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Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: March 15, 2019

"Reading sparks writing." ~A.D. PoseyIn this week’s collection of posts from around the web we found a variety of topics of interest to textbook and academic authors. We begin our collection with articles focused on perspective: on the PhD and employment, on Belbin roles in collaborative writing efforts, and on visualizations of scholarly workflow. Next we explore topics on finding the gap and keeping track of your literature review. We continue with a couple articles on open access. Finally, we close with technology-related articles on sharing research, conducting online surveys, and protecting privacy in digital resources.

A.D. Posey once said, “Reading sparks writing.” As you read through this week’s collection of articles, we hope that the ideas and topics presented serve to spark your writing efforts for the week ahead. Happy writing!

What is this ‘anti-PhD’ attitude about?

Lately, more and more students want a non-academic job when they finish their PhD. Anecdotally, some graduates seem to be experiencing the PhD as a barrier to employment, not an enabler. In fact, I’ve heard so much negative talk about how employers react to PhD holders over the years that it seemed important to start looking at this phenomenon more closely.

Collaborating through a book-finishing frenzy

We have spent the last few days in a finishing frenzy. Emails have been hurtling back and forth at speeds hitherto unknown to science. I don’t know what Janet’s Belbin role is but I figured she was probably a Shaper. I ran this past her and she said yes and she also thinks we are both Plants because we’re creative and undeterred by obstacles. Makes sense to me, particularly as Plants work well alone on the whole, but also benefit from collaborating – that’s us both to a T!

Pictures worth a thousand words? On visualizations of scholarly workflow

Research workflow diagrams are everywhere: in peer-reviewed articles, online research reports and issue briefs, and blogs like the Scholarly Kitchen. These visualizations present a dizzying variety of content and design. In order to make sense of it all, we outline two key themes that can help ground an analysis of research workflow diagrams: how the “flow” is structured and who/what is centered.

Addressing ‘the gap’ in the field

A very common way to justify academic work is by “finding the gap”. That is, you look at all of the work that has been done, and then ask what isn’t there. What’s missing. What hasn’t been done is then called “the gap”. You next design a study that is different from those you’ve found and you say that it fills the “gap”. The “gap” provides the research warrant, your justification.

Methods lit review challenge: Keeping track

Keeping track of literature is a challenge. It is a moving target: every day it seems that new journal issues are published, with yet more articles to consider. Then there are conference proceedings, books, and other potentially relevant resources. When I taught, I communicated this message to my doctoral students: pick a system, any system, and stick with it!

Moving towards more Open Access publishing?

Eleven countries in Europe formed cOAlition-S, with as its basic principle:

“After 1 January 2020 scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms.”

I wondered if researchers are planning to move more towards open access, and ran a poll on the topic.

Openness: An interview with Daniel Hook, CEO of Digital Science

I recently read an intriguing report, entitled The Ascent of Open Access, that was written by Daniel Hook, CEO of Digital Science, and his colleagues Ian Calvert and Mark Hahnel. I wanted to see how a still-practicing physicist and technology whiz sees the landscape of open research, given his position straddling business and research and leading a powerful influencer of the publishing world. Is Daniel able to articulate a researcher’s needs and translate them for publishing?

preLights: A new way to share research?

preLights is a community platform for selecting, highlighting and commenting on preprints across the biological sciences. At the heart of this initiative are early-career researchers (‘preLighters’), who choose preprints they find most interesting, and write digests of the research, which is free for everyone to read. Importantly, preLighters include their opinion of why the study is important, and reach out to the preprint authors to ask further questions about their work. The resulting discussions are also published at the end of the post.

Online survey software tools

Online survey software tools such as Survey Monkey® and Qualtrics® enable you to present your survey online for your respondents. This approach has a number of advantages to both researchers and participants. First, once you create your survey online, it can be sent to anyone, anywhere, with a survey link the program generates for you. The online approach offers a great deal of flexibility (for the researcher and the respondents).

Protecting patron privacy in digital resources

Patron privacy has been a long-standing concern of libraries, and in the era of Facebook data-sharing scandals and of GDPR, the privacy of users of digital content is an increasing concern. In response to that general issue, and to several specific difficulties with data providers, Stanford Libraries, with support from a number of our peer institutions, have put forward a Statement on Patron Privacy and Database Access.