Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: September 6, 2019

Trust yourselfThis week’s collection of articles from around the web begins with prompts to stimulate your thinking and methods for finding papers for your literature review. It continues with the importance of validating faculty research, consideration of your timeline for finishing a PhD, and expectations when presenting research to an industry audience. Finally, we have some noteworthy industry news on cost per use value models, the value of the big deal, the Cengage-McGraw Hill merger, and a new textbook model at UC Davis.

Neil Gaiman once said, “The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.” This week, trust yourself and happy writing!

20 reading journal prompts

A reading journal is a place to let your creative juices flow. It’s where you use your reading to stimulate your own thinking and imagining. A reading journal is where you try out interpretations and potential new lines of thinking. Here’s a few possible starters you might like to try out.

How to find papers when you do your literature review

In today’s post, we look at different places where you can find (references to) papers that could be of your interest. Not all papers will eventually be equally important for your thesis. Depending on the article and its contents, you may simply browse the article for the main findings in less than 20 minutes, or you may sit down with the article for a week, pulling apart all its calculations and equations. But of course, you can’t know how important a reference is until you find it and have a first look at it. Here are nine different places where you can find (references to) papers that you may want to check.

The importance of validating faculty research

Far too often, researchers’ scholarly and creative achievements simply become lines on curriculum vitae, argue Scott Slovic and Janet E. Nelson, who offer recommendations for change.

On finishing ‘early’

Recently I published a post from Carmen Blythe on finishing the PhD in 2 years, which provoked a storm of comments. Some people pointed out the many advantages that Carmen had, which helped her finish in such a short time. You might have been left wondering: what about ‘normal people’ – can they finish early to?

Presenting your research to an industry audience

If an employer outside academe invites you to interview and present your research, how should your presentation be different from the one you may have just delivered at an academic conference? Francine Mahak discusses the different context and expectations of such an audience and offers practical tips for graduate students.

Cost per use overvalues journal subscriptions

The subscription monopoly has been broken. Content is a commodity; it is ubiquitous.  What we are paying for by subscribing to journals is as much convenience now as it is access, and the valuation paradigm has to change. The cost per use model is too simplistic a measure as it does not account for variability in the nature of patron usage, consequently overvaluing journal subscriptions. Cost per use fails to take into consideration variability in the nature of usage – not all usage is equal, not all usage has equal value.

Will libraries help publishers prop up the value of the big deal?

This is a disruptive moment for journal licensing. The value of the big deal has declined. When the value of a product declines, one expected outcome is for customers to drive down its price in the market. But something slightly different is instead taking place. Several major university negotiating groups, including those for Germany and the University of California, have cancelled deals with Elsevier, the result of failed negotiations. Some consortia have entered into “transformative” agreements with Wiley, Springer Nature, and others, including Elsevier. In this moment of disruption, I wish to focus on one growing if counterintuitive element of the library negotiating playbook: helping publishers prop up the value of their big deal bundles.

APLU opposes Cengage-McGraw Hill merger

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities yesterday published a letter to the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, urging that it block the proposed merger of publishers Cengage and McGraw-Hill Education.

UC Davis experiments with a new textbook model: An interview with Jason Lorgan

A few months ago, the University of California, Davis made the news when it was announced that the campus will soon be trying out a relatively new model of textbook and course-material provision. The new program will be called Equitable Access, and it promises to dramatically decrease the cost of access to textbooks and other course materials for UC Davis (UCD) students by making campuswide deals with publishers and spreading costs uniformly across the student body. I contacted Jason Lorgan, UC Davis’s Executive Director of Campus Stores, to ask some questions about the new program.