The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: December 7, 2018

Starve your distractions : Feed your focusOur weekly collection of posts from around the web contains a variety of topics beginning with the mental health of academics and the process of giving feedback on academic writing. We then explore some academic elements often challenging to writers: statistics and theory. Next we look at industry concerns when setting up a new academic journal and the impact of Plan S on society publishers. We continue with discussion of the relationship between measurement systems and impact goals as well as concerns related to scientific misconduct. Finally, as we approach the holiday season, we have a list of gift ideas for the academics on your list.

This week, as the end of academic semesters approach for many of us and the holidays add new elements of obligation to our already busy schedules, focus on this simple message – Starve your distractions : Feed your focus. Happy writing!

Perfectionism is a spectrum disorder

I think I now understand one reason why mental health is such an issue for PhD candidates (and academics for that matter). We have minds that are conditioned by years and years of arguing. I’m extremely skilled at arguing with myself and building elaborate theories about what will go wrong in the future (based, it must be said, on scant evidence in the present).

How to give feedback on academic writing – Twelve top tips

A recent discussion on Facebook reminded me that I’ve written about how to deal with feedback from reviewers, but I haven’t written about how to give feedback to peers and colleagues. There is an art to this which I have learned, paradoxically, from receiving feedback, which taught me what helps and what does not help.

Methods Minute: Getting comfortable with statistics

The latest edition of SAGE Publishing’s Methods Minute newsletter encourages viewers to get comfortable with statistics, offering a video from the late Neil Salkind on coping with statistics anxiety, offering a students guide to Bayesian statistics — from YouTube, and Cassandra Chapman’s enormously popular “Seven Deadly Sins” article as posted on MethodSpace.

Becoming friends with theory

Some theory reading is done early in the PhD. In some disciplines and for some types of research, a theoretical framework is developed as part of the proposal. And some doctoral studies are all about theoretical development and so all of the reading done early on, and later, is theory. But when you start reading new theory, as I am doing now, it is often hard work. It’s hard for three key reasons.

Adventures in setting up a new journal

During the month of December the Focus Series will explore ways researchers, writers, academics, and students collaborate to conduct and write about research. In this guest post, Melissa Nolas and Christos Varvantakis discuss their collaborative project: starting a new scholarly journal.

Plan S: Impact on society publishers

The primary objective of Plan S appears instead to be to achieve a “definitive shift towards new models of academic publishing.” To shift towards something means to shift away from something else. In this case the shift consists (as James Phimister has noted) of attempting to eliminate the commercial viability of subscription journal publishing (the prohibition against hybrid journals makes no sense in any other context). It is also clear that the cOAlition S vision of the future of scientific and scholarly publishing is at odds with the values and practices of most society publishers.

The measurement tail should not be wagging the impact dog

Whether it’s the Engagement and Impact Assessment in Australia, the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in the UK, or any similar exercises in other countries, the indicators that we are asked to report against are only ever going to be proxies for more complex real-world outcomes. The impact case studies that we are asked to provide are simplifications of more complex stories of how research creates societal benefit. A generic measurement system, designed to assess progress against a very high level goal, is never going to serve as a constructive guide for what an individual’s engagement and impact goals should be.

What can we do about scientific misconduct?

Who can we trust in a world of alternative facts, trolls, and spam? We should be able to turn to scientific research for reliably trust-worthy perspectives, yet even peer- reviewed journal articles can contain incorrect or misleading findings. Academic misconduct– including falsifying data, selectively analyzing data, plagiarizing others’ work, or biased reporting– is a troubling problem across hard and social science disciplines.

20 Gift ideas for academics

Today, I present you the Christmas-edition of the PhD Talk for AcademicTransfer posts. With the holidays around the corner, you may wonder what to give to an academic, or you may wonder which gift to suggest your family buys for you. Here are 20 ideas of gifts that can make your favorite academic happy.