experience the trials and tribulations
of their taller, less-plasticy peers (previously 1, 2)
I don't always ignore your emails, but when I do, it's because the answer is on your syllabus.
"In my effort to teach students appropriate use of emails, my syllabus policies [had] ballooned to cover every conceivable scenario -- when to email, when not to, how to write the subject line -- and still I spent class time discussing the email policies and logged hours upon hours answering emails that defied the policies. In a fit of self-preservation, I decided: no more." [more inside]
Former Virginia Tech professor Steven Salaita's blocked appointment
to teach at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has ignited a debate over academic freedom
. [more inside]
The Shadow Syllabus: Writer
Sonya Huber offers some bullshit-free advice for her college students.
Colombian student Diego Gomez faces four to eight years in prison for sharing an academic article online
. [more inside]
The Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery
is an annual weekend conference discussing food, its history, and culture. Since 1981 the papers presented at the Symposium have been collected into a conference volume called the Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery
, most of which have been made available for free in their entirety via Google Books. Each volume consists of about 25-40 papers surrounding the theme of that year's Symposium (e.g. Eggs
, or The Meal
). [more inside]
How Birth Year Influences Political Views
A new model of presidential voting suggests President Obama’s approval rating — currently in the low 40s — will inform not only the 2016 election, but also the election in 2076. Events at age 18 are about three times as powerful as those at age 40, according to the model.
The Upshot: Why Teenagers Today May Grow Up Conservative [more inside]
Friedrich Nietzsche, famously a full professor at the tender age of 24, was in a good position to develop an acute sensitivity to the university as machine:
"The student listens to lectures . . . Very often the student writes at the same time he listens to lectures. These are the moments when he dangles from the umbilical cord of the university. The teacher . . . is cut off by a monumental divide from the consciousness of his students . . . A speaking mouth and many, many ears, with half as many writing hands: that is the external apparatus of the academy; set in motion, that is the educational machinery of the university." [more inside]
“The Principle of Sound Learning is that the noise of vulgar fame should never trouble the cloistered calm of academic existence. Hence, learning is called sound when no one has ever heard of it… If you should write a book (you had better not), be sure that it is unreadable; otherwise you will be called ‘brilliant’ and forfeit all respect.” - The Microcosmographia Academica
(pdf), FM Cornford’s
cynical 1908 guide to the academic life, including detailed instructions on obstructing progress. (via the excellent Alex Reinhart
Student Debt Grows Faster at Universities With Highest-Paid Leaders, Study Finds (SLNYT)
'At the 25 public universities with the highest-paid presidents, both student debt and the use of part-time adjunct faculty grew far faster than at the average state university from 2005 to 2012...The study, “The One Percent at State U: How University Presidents Profit from Rising Student Debt and Low-Wage Faculty Labor,” examined the relationship between executive pay, student debt and low-wage faculty labor at the 25 top-paying public universities.' Report here
The non-profit digital library of Marxist texts, The Marxist Internet Archive
, has received a copyright take-down request
from the radical publishing house Lawrence and Wishart, asking that all material from the Marx and Engels Collected Works
be removed from the site by May 1 2014. [more inside]
One should add that he was an extraordinarily gifted con man, persuading the most discerning intellectuals that he had credentials he did not possess and a heroic personal history, rather than a scandalous one, while he worked his charm on generations of students. Just who was Paul de Man?
Carole Vance and Kim Hopper had been professors at the Mailman School of Public Health for decades — 27 and 26 years, respectively. Vance... has done “pioneering work on the intersection of gender, health and human rights”; Hopper “is both an advocate for the homeless and one of the nation’s foremost scholars on homelessness.” They were fired not because of any shortcomings in their research or teaching, but because they hadn’t raised enough money.
why it matters. [more inside]
"professorial women were rounded up in a meeting room, offered unappealing sandwiches."
Classics professor Barbara Graziosi in the Times Higher Education
: "But I am not sure that these inequalities quite explain the low submission of women in the RAE and now, perhaps, the REF. Is there something that favours men in the way assessment exercises are set up? Or are women simply less good at research?" [more inside]
Congratulations, you won the lottery and got offered a tenure-track job offer in the humanities! Now it's time to start negotiating. But don't negotiate on the terms, because your new colleagues might decide to rescind the offer.
Further coverage at Inside Higher Ed
Look Who Nick Kristof’s Saving Now.
Political scientist Corey Robin
on today's public intellectuals, an "entire economy of unsung writers with PhDs," and what Nicholas Kristof doesn't understand when he writes academics have marginalizes themselves and "just don’t matter in today’s great debates." As Aaron Bady wrote, ”He only reads The New Yorker
, and then complains that everyone doesn’t write for The New Yorker
With recognition software making the use of recycled term papers
impractical, a new service
is now allowing students to hire unemployed professors
to write term papers from scratch.
"Given the desire for ambitious scientists
to break from the pack with a striking new finding, Dr. Ioannidis reasoned, many hypotheses already start with a high chance of being wrong. Otherwise proving them right would not be so difficult and surprising — and supportive of a scientist’s career. Taking into account the human tendency to see what we want to see, unconscious bias is inevitable. Without any ill intent, a scientist may be nudged toward interpreting the data so it supports the hypothesis, even if just barely." [more inside]
Amid a number of recent articles (previously
, and previously
) about the state of doctoral study in the United States, the NSF has released an interactive report
compiling statistical analysis of broad trends about who earns a doctorates
, which fields are attracting students
, influences to obtain a degree
, payment for that degree
, and trends after graduation
. The report is also available as a .pdf
, with further explanation of what these numbers generally indicate.
The Simon Fraser University Choir performs "Every Major's Terrible"
by Randall Munroe
Even Ph.D.s Who Got “Full Funding” Have Huge Amounts of Debt (SLSLATE)
"A shocking number of users also report [a debt loan of] $100,000 and up; some $200,000 and over, even with a funding package. “My graduate stipend did not cover my living expenses, books, money I needed for research,” explains one user. “TA salary and fee remission not enough to support my two children,” says another. Graduate students do not usually receive funding in the summer—but are often expected to complete intensive research or exam prep—so many users also cited summer living expenses. Though Kelsky expected a substantial reaction, she says she is still “stunned” at the rate at which entries keep coming in, and “with such devastating figures and stories.”
(be sure to check out the link for 'fully funded
Indian tech entrepreneur and engineer Navin Kabra
was dubious when the B.E. students he was advising told him that publishing papers at conferences were a requirement for graduation - a requirement shared by M.E. and M. Tech students in India. When an 'international engineering conference' came to Pune, he submitted two fake papers
- one generated using SCIgen
and one interspersed with random references to pop culture. Both were accepted
- and one was published after Navin paid for the publishing fees (haggled to a 50% discount). Since the expose, the University of Pune has clarified that publishing for Masters students is recommended but not mandatory
, more conference fraud has been uncovered
, and Navin's still investigating publishing requirements for Bachelors students
Summing up years of work in one sentence
"Moby Dick is the hero of 'Moby Dick'." - English, Northwestern. "Really, really thin semiconductors look different and act differently than really thin semiconductors because quantum mechanics." - Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University. "such pulsating stars. very cosmic distance scale. mid-infrared wow." - Astrophysics, Pomona College.
We analysed 5,483,841 research papers and review articles with 27,329,915 authorships.
We find that in the most productive countries, all articles with women in dominant author positions receive fewer citations than those with men in the same positions. And this citation disadvantage is accentuated by the fact that women's publication portfolios are more domestic than their male colleagues — they profit less from the extra citations that international collaborations accrue. Given that citations now play a central part in the evaluation of researchers, this situation can only worsen gender disparities.
The data are also used to make a really cool interactive map
The Tumblr blog People of Color in European Art History
, or medievalpoc for short, has a simple mission
: to showcase works of art from European history that feature People of Color. All too often, these works go unseen in museums, Art History classes, online galleries, and other venues because of retroactive whitewashing of Medieval Europe, Scandinavia, and Asia. [more inside]
On Graduate School and 'Love'
is yet another commentary on the economics of academic work. A younger student
chimes in on the role of education in life: "much of education is oriented, for better or worse, toward making a living, rather than making a life." [more inside]
...one of the jobs of a publisher, I really believe, is to keep all forms in play, precisely because it is in keeping all forms in play (which forms are themselves always being reshaped in some fashion as they come into contact with each other) -- that creativity has the widest possible purchase on how things might turn out. Eileen Joy
, co-director of open-access quasi-scholarly print-on-demand press Punctum Books
, gives a talk on the state and future of open-access publishing
in the academy and the arts.
An aspiring scientist's frustration with modern-day academia.
A resignation letter circulated to staff and students at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, which has caused a bit of a splash in the science community. Lee Smolin
, author of The Trouble with Physics, responds
in the comments.
"I Quit Academia"
-- An Important, Growing Subgenre of American Essays
Rise Above the LMS
: " ... I no longer think of standard, traditional LMS platforms like Blackboard as software. Instead, I think of them as 'institutionware.' For as much as Blackboard may be about preserving itself as the top LMS option, it is also about preserving the traditional aspects of higher education. Even more recent social media ‘features’ are about containment; blogs and wikis are stuck in the Blackboard box and mark the introduction of new environments and tools for learning but only serve lectures and exams." James Schirmer
talks about how the structure and design of learning management systems (Wikipedia article
) in higher education often runs counter to good classroom instruction.
An estimated 8.6 percent
of parents now wait until their child is six to send them to kindergarten, hoping that their maturity and increased physical size will give them advantages in the classroom and on the sports field. However, the trend, called "academic redshirting
" may actually be extremely harmful
, according to recent studies.
By many measures, women in political science do not achieve the same success as men. Their ranks among full professors are lower; their teaching evaluations by students are more critical; they hold less prestigious committee appointments; and, according to a new study, their work is cited less frequently.
Why? [more inside]
I had my students fill out mid-semester evaluations last fall. No big deal, just answer these four questions: 1) What am I doing to help you learn? 2) What could I be doing better to help you learn? 3) What are you doing to help yourself learn? and 4) What could you be doing better to help yourself learn? I had them turn the evaluations in anonymously to allow more genuine feedback. Later that afternoon, I started going through the responses. It was encouraging to see that, in general, responses to the first two questions indicated I was getting better, which was gratifying given the amount of time and energy I spent re-developing the class. For the most part, students were surprisingly honest when responding to questions 3 and 4, showing they understood their responsibility in their progress, or lack thereof. Somewhere towards the end of the ~160 evaluations, I came across one that answered question #2 with: “Teach naked.” [more inside]
Most work in the psychological and social sciences suffers from a lack of conceptual rigor. It’s a bit sloppy around the edges, and in the middle, too. For example, “happiness research” is a booming field, but the titans of the subdiscipline disagree sharply about what happiness actually is. No experiment or regression will settle it. It’s a philosophical question. Nevertheless, they work like the dickens to measure it, whatever it is—life satisfaction, “flourishing,” pleasure minus pain—and to correlate it to other, more easily quantified things with as much statistical rigor as deemed necessary to appear authoritative. It’s as if the precision of the statistical analysis is supposed somehow to compensate for, or help us forget, the imprecision of thought at the foundation of the enterprise.
A new open-access policy
adopted by the University of California, effective November 1, provides a license to the university system which allows it to publish articles in eScholarship
, the system's free online paper repository. Criticism hinges on the policy's seemingly flexible opt-out provision
. Ars Technica
. Chronicle of Higher Education
Psychologists recount a valuable lesson about the fragility of statistical validity and the state of publishing.
"Two of the present authors, Matt Motyl and Brian A. Nosek, share interests in political ideology. We were inspired by the fast growing literature on embodiment that demonstrates surprising links between body and mind to investigate embodiment of political extremism. Participants from the political left, right, and center (N = 1,979) completed a perceptual judgment task in which words were presented in different shades of gray. Participants had to click along a gradient representing grays from near black to near white to select a shade that matched the shade of the word. We calculated accuracy: How close to the actual shade did participants get? The results were stunning. Moderates perceived the shades of gray more accurately than extremists on the left and right (p = .01). Our conclusion: Political extremists perceive the world in black and white figuratively and literally. Our design and follow-up analyses ruled out obvious alternative explanations such as time spent on task and a tendency to select extreme responses. Enthused about the result, we identified Psychological Science as our fallback journal after we toured the Science, Nature, and PNAS rejection mills. The ultimate publication, Motyl and Nosek (2012), served as one of Motyl’s signature publications as he finished graduate school and entered the job market.
The story is all true, except for the last sentence; we did not publish the finding." [more inside]
The American Historical Association just released a statement that "strongly encourages graduate programs and university libraries to adopt a policy that allows the embargoing of completed history PhD dissertations in digital form for as many as six years.
" The statement is aimed at publishers who are disinclined to consider books based on dissertations that have been made freely available in open access databases. Some responses cite a 2011 survey, "Do Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Social Sciences and Humanities?
," that found most publishers self-reported they would indeed consider publishing such dissertations, but also suggested university libraries are refusing to buy books based on dissertations that have previously been available online. "The Road From Dissertation to Book Has a New Pothole: the Internet
," a 2011 article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, quotes editors who are wary of publishing such books, and discusses the process by which students can restrict access to their work at companies like ProQuest, "the electronic publisher with which the vast majority of U.S. universities contract to house digital copies of dissertations." [more inside]
"Are We on the Threshold of the North American Decade
" is the title the new course taught by four star general and Visiting Professor at CUNY, David Petraeus. For his two courses at CUNY, Petraeus will be paid over $150,000, which is much more than CUNY's average adjunct salary of $3,000 per course. [more inside]
Don't go to art school.
Why it's a bad idea and what you can do with the money instead.