Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: April 19, 2019
Yes or no? The simplest of questions, with the simplest of answers, yet often applied to the most difficult of concepts and discussions. This week’s collection of articles explores several questions you may be asking: Is Sci-Hub good for scholarly communication? Is this the best method for planning? Should we invest more in understanding the researcher experience? Should I hire a proofreader or editor? Should I pre-publish my research? Should I publish in open access journals?
Yes or no? No longer the simplest of answers. The truth is that as we explore these and other questions of value, the answer is rarely as simple as yes or no. It’s more often “whatever is right for you” or, in other words, maybe. But those decisions are what move us forward.
Are you ready to move forward with your writing this week? Yes or no? Happy writing!
One plenary session of the 2019 Researcher to Reader (R2R) Conference was a debate on the proposition “Resolved: Sci-Hub is doing more good than harm to scholarly communication.” Arguing in favor of the resolution was Daniel Himmelstein, a postdoctoral fellow in genomics at the University of Pennsylvania. Arguing against it was Justin Spence, partner and co-founder of PSI Ltd., and the IP Registry. (Video of the debate can be found here.)
I ran a poll on Twitter to identify which method is most popular for planning: lists, tasks, or a calendar. The most popular method seems to be lists, but more than anything, I learned from this poll that every person has his/her own method. After all, this conclusion is not surprising, as learning how to organize oneself and developing our own methods is a typical part of the learning process in the doctoral years and beyond. You can find the results of the poll and its wake here.
Only with a realistic, up-to-date and situated view of researcher experiences can we define the way forward for scholarly communications. The future state of our institutions rely on our investing in an operational and compassionate understanding of today’s researcher experiences, with the relevant contextual lenses to make the choices that best serve our communities.
I am the world’s worst proofreader of my own work. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I am not alone. Almost everyone has difficulty reading their own work for errors. Yet when we read other people’s work, the errors just leap off the page and we can’t ignore them. How come we can see their mistakes, and not ours?
Anyone who publishes. Whether you’re writing a novel or a thesis, a journal paper or a restaurant menu, a museum sign or a sandwich board, it is a good idea to ask someone else to read through your material to check it makes sense and point out any embarrassing bloopers. It is also a good idea to use an actual editor rather than just a pedantic friend or relative. Qualified editors tend to have tools and checklists they can use to ensure fewer errors make it into print.
So here I want to talk directly to students interested in paying someone to proofread their PhD. I want to tell what you need to know and ask in order to make sure you choose an ethical proofreader and don’t fall foul of the rules.
We’re seeing a generational shift as the world becomes increasingly fast-paced and digital, and early-career researchers are leading the charge in adopting (and expecting) a more open research approach. Preprint platforms are becoming accepted and even celebrated fixtures of the research community in some fields. This is by no means the case in all disciplines, however, neither has the sharing of other forms of pre-published research reached this level of maturity.
On Friday, Ithaka S+R released the latest cycle of our long-standing US Faculty Survey. This survey has tracked the changing research, teaching, and publishing practices of higher education faculty members on a triennial basis since 2000. Here, we highlight some of the key findings around open access that we expect will be of interest to the scholarly communication community. Notably, we find a widening disconnect between faculty attitudes, on the one hand, and reported practices, on the other, related to open access publishing.