Posts by richard
Hard News: Public Address Word of the…,
Bikepath -- the year that marked the tipped point for cycling starting to become the new normal
Hard News: Every option has costs, every…,
Speaking of dodgy places with fancy names ....
How this "Cornell" is allowed to operate legally with this name I have no idea, but it is a pile of sleaze in the middle of our "education precinct".
Speaker: Banking on a relationship, in reply to
If you are selling a vital product that is going to be used in multiple timezones (and a credit card is exactly that) you have to provide 24/7 support.
Just as the power company will show up at midnight if someone hits a power pole outside of your house, and hospitals stay open after 5.
Hard News: Art with a job to do,
Just realised what the Lockwood “symbol salad” flag reminds me of; it is like what happened when Homer Simpson was asked to design a car…
Powerful like a gorilla, it's tough and yielding like a nerfball…
Envirologue: What has Neoliberalism Done…,
On the other hand, it is hard to be too nostalgic for The Tour, nuclear ships, marginal tax rates over 60%, Bastion Point, 15% inflation, or Rongotai Airport.
(Not saying that things are just ducky today, but the 1970s and early 80s was not a golden age I would want to return to.)
Hard News: When the fast track seems a…, in reply to
Usually both, actually. I pretty regularly get requests for my opinion of candidates being considered for promotion at other universities.
Hard News: When the fast track seems a…, in reply to
I am pretty mellow about the title ;-) In the States, where I was first enproffed, everyone who teaches is a professor, and a lecturer here would be an Assistant Professor in the US -- whereas in New Zealand where I studied (or the UK) the title implies a degree of seniority.
So the first time a student in the US called me "Prof" I almost looked behind me for the old guy he was actually addressing.
Speaker: Women, science and superheroes,
A bit of blatant advertising, for which I hope Russell forgives me, but fans of Nanogirl should check out
Speaker: Market failure in the research world, in reply to
So long as researchers themselves personally value these exclusive journals so highly, this can not change. This can only get worse.
It is easy to over-estimate the extent to which exclusive journals like Science and Nature drive this, as they represent a tiny fraction of all academic publication. Moreover, they are somewhat field dependent -- I have never tried to submit to either of them but I am doing ok, professionally. (Although I do try to get into Physical Review Letters when I have a suitably pithy and significant result, and have a reasonable strike rate with those attempts -- but I recognize that the process is bound to be somewhat random.)
So to me the question is: Why do you value them so highly? Are they really providing you with value? I don’t just mean the value of being published in them, but the actual reading of them. Is their ability to pick out the good research from the bad really worth so much? Or is it quite literally their exclusivity that generates their value, almost in its entirety? That you can’t even get the research any other way?
It’s bizarre to think of this kind of human pyramid existing. No wonder people don’t want to get into research. It’s not just the money, it’s the very idea that the quality of one’s work and ideas counts for so little compared to one’s access to the information channels, and all the kudos grafting involved.
In my field, everything is essentially available on the "Archive" (arxiv.org) and it is the first place I look for any paper, even if it is published. Consequently, in terms of communicating with my colleagues or the general public I have no need to publish in peer-reviewed journals at all.
In terms of broader science, I do tend to look at Nature, Science and Physical Review Letters for a sense of what is happening outside my field, and for better or worse, they do serve a useful role as "curators", albeit a someone circular one. Consequently, having exclusive venues (however that exclusivity is maintained) for publication probably serves a useful function. But I also find papers via Twitter :-)
That said, I do set some store by publishing in decent journals -- which in my case is typically either Physical Review (which is a broad set of journals, run by the American Physical Society) and the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics (and run by an Italian lab and the British IOP), which is narrower. Neither journal is "rationed" for space, and while crap papers slip though, peer review is nontrivial, and as someone else observed, the approbation of your peers can be a big part of an academic's job satisfaction.
Both journals have decent "quality metrics" (impact factors or whatever alternative you prefer) so they undoubtedly help with research assessment exercises, getting my students jobs, and convincing funders I am returning value for money, but I don't think that is why I am publishing with them, rather than less demanding journals :-)
It is easy to design "better" systems, but I think it is significant that the positive changes that have occurred around open access have typically delivered immediate benefits to the people participating in them, with little cost.
Hard News: 2014: The Meth Election,
Don't bogart that election, Russell.