Amid a number of recent articles (previously, 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.
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]
"The coming of “academic capitalism” has been anticipated and praised for years; today it is here." (Thomas Frank for The Baffler)
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.
Art History explained using Gifs (related: The true story of an art history grad student explained via gifs)
For decades the sciences and the humanities have fought for knowledge supremacy. Both sides are wrong-headed
Psychological Science, “the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology", recently published two controversial journal articles. One claims that ovulation might change women's political and religious views (PDF warning). The other tries to link physical strength with political conservatism. Some people disagree and find serious flaws in the methodology. [more inside]
Eric Schliesser is collecting some memorable opening lines of philosophy journal articles.
A large portion of scientific research is publicly funded. So why do only the richest consumers have access to it?
Jason Richwine has resigned from the Heritage Foundation. Richwine is the author of a the Heritage report, "The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer." In 2009, Richwine earned his doctorate from Harvard University, and his dissertation was titled "IQ and Immigration Policy", which argued that Hispanic immigrants have lower IQ than white native immigrants. [more inside]
Big tech is saying we need to issue more temporary visas so high-skill STEM workers can enter the US, because there's a shortage of Americans who can do the work. But according to this essay in the Columbia Journalism Review, there might be plenty of US citizens available, in fact maybe even a glut, and immigration reform proposals might just be a way to keep STEM labor costs down for corporations and universities. [more inside]
The Department of Defense recently announced the creation of the Minerva Research Initiative (PDF), also known as Project Minerva, providing as much as $75 million over five years to support social science research on areas of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy. The initiative indicates a renewal of interest in social science findings after a prolonged period of neglect, but it also prompts concerns about the appropriate relationship between university-based research programs and the state, especially when research might become a tool of not only governance but also military violence. The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) has invited prominent scholars to speak to the questions raised by Project Minerva and to address the controversy it has sparked in academic quarters.
Questions about Pakistan are now a fact of living here, no different from damp weather or calls from salespeople. Some I deflect, and others I frame around my own terms.[more inside]
The Political Science Department at Brooklyn College is co-sponsoring a panel discussion about the BDS Movement (boycott, divestment, sanctions) against Israel this Thursday Feburary 7th. The event features Omar Barghouti, BDS co-founder and Judith Butler, prominent philosopher. The college has come under widespread attack for its hosting of the event, with a coalition of New York City councillors threatening to defund the school. [more inside]
First noticed on tumblr but now available to all, Alex Clayden's paper "Same-Sex Desire in Pharaonic Egypt" which, among other things, tells you about the connection between lettuce and semen and the Ancient Egyptian for "You have a nice ass."
Tim Gowers has announced a series of arXiv overlay journals called the Episciences Project that aim to exclude existing publishers from research publication in mathematics. As arXiv overlays, the Episciences Project avoids the editing and typesetting costs that existing open-access journals pay for using article processing charges. The French Centre pour la Communication Scientifique Directe (CCSD) is backing the remaining expenses, such as developing the platform. [more inside]
"If you account for my access to academic journal subscriptions, my salary is really like half a million dollars."
This past Thursday, Forbes Magazine published a pair of articles: The Most Stressful Jobs of 2013 and The Least Stressful Jobs of 2013, the latter of which began with the sentence: "University professors have a lot less stress than most of us." 300+ outraged comments (and thousands of sarcastic #RealForbesProfessor tweets,) later they've added a retraction, and linked to a blog post that takes A Real Look at Being a Professor in the US. [more inside]
The hard numbers behind scholarly publishing's gender gap - The Chronicle of Higher Education investigates the nature of gender disparity in science and humanities publishing, with the help of researcher Jennifer Jacquet in collaboration with Jevin West and Carl Bergstrom of the University of Washington, whose Eigenfactor tool (previously) is used to map the intersection of gender and authorship in JSTOR articles from 1665 to 2011. [more inside]
'Dark Lady' of Shakespeare's sonnets 'finally revealed to be London prostitute called Lucy Negro' [dailymail.co.uk] "New research claims The 'Dark Lady' of Shakespeare's sonnets was a notorious London prostitute named Lucy Negro or Black Luce - a dark-skinned madam who ran a licentious house in Clerkenwell."
Molly Paxton, Carrie Figdor, and Valerie Tiberius have a new paper in Hypatia quantifying the gender gap in philosophy (pdf). [more inside]
I fantasize about academic sharecroppers organizing with contingent workers across industries, a category (taxi drivers, seasonal workers in agriculture and tourism, truckers, office temps, construction temps...) that has exploded over the last twenty years. Together their power would overturn cities. But for that to happen, academic sharecroppers will have to tear their allegiance from the people who love what they love, that is, they will need to understand that my job is funded by their oppression, that there are more of them than there are of me, that they are the shaky foundation on which people like me totteringly stand. There are more and more of them and fewer and fewer of me. Adjuncts as sharecroppers. There's a reason it's #14. [more inside]
Parlez-vous war criminal? Leopold Munyakazi and Goucher college Sanford H. Ungar, journalist and current President of Goucher, a small liberal-arts college near Baltimore writes about his experience hiring - unbeknownst to him - a Rwandan war criminal (Leopold Munyakazi) to teach French as a visiting scholar, and the aftermath for him personally. He examines the sometimes problematic desire from liberal arts colleges, or at least Goucher in this instance, to hire somebody controversial, and delves in to the blurry world of apportioning blame in the Rwandan genocide. [more inside]
An analysis of nearly 1,700 public and private nonprofit colleges being unveiled this week by Bain & Company finds that one-third of the institutions have been on an “unsustainable financial path” in recent years, and an additional 28 percent are “at risk of slipping into an unsustainable condition.” Presenting thesustainableuniversity.com.
anyone who goes into science expecting employers to clamor for their services will be deeply disappointed
Uproar over forced resignation of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan enters second week. [more inside]
The U.S. National Institute of Heath has urged steps to curb growth in "training" positions in biomedical research (report). [more inside]
Who are the alt-acs? They are people with graduate education (mostly in the humanities and library science) who have decided to pursue alternative academic careers. They choose to skip the "dues-paying crap" often associated with pursuing a traditional tenure-track job, and avoid languishing in unrewarding adjunct assignments. They also tweet like mad. The results of a new (and, as of this writing, ongoing) #alt-ac census show alt-acs thriving in diverse positions; there's a strong contingent involved in the digital humanities, but also a historian at the U.S. Department of State, an exhibit developer at the National Constitution Center, and a self-employed "Editor, musicologist." [more inside]
The emergence of a citation cartel. "Cell Transplantation is a medical journal published by the Cognizant Communication Corporation of Putnam Valley, New York. In recent years, its impact factor has been growing rapidly. In 2006, it was 3.482. In 2010, it had almost doubled to 6.204. When you look at which journals cite Cell Transplantation, two journals stand out noticeably: the Medical Science Monitor, and The Scientific World Journal. According to the JCR, neither of these journals cited Cell Transplantation until 2010. Then, in 2010, a review article was published in the Medical Science Monitor citing 490 articles, 445 of which were to papers published in Cell Transplantation. All 445 citations pointed to papers published in 2008 or 2009 — the citation window from which the journal’s 2010 impact factor was derived. Of the remaining 45 citations, 44 cited the Medical Science Monitor, again, to papers published in 2008 and 2009. Three of the four authors of this paper sit on the editorial board of Cell Transplantation. Two are associate editors, one is the founding editor. The fourth is the CEO of a medical communications company." (from Scholarly Kitchen, via Andrew Gelman.)
"It's the dirty little secret of higher education," says Mr. Williams of the New Faculty Majority. "Many administrators are not aware of the whole extent of the problem. But all it takes is for somebody to run the numbers to see that their faculty is eligible for welfare assistance." [more inside]
"Sixteen years ago, Patricia (P.J.) Johnston of Des Moines made the front page of this paper for collecting her diploma from Drake University at just 19. “I think I’m probably meant to be an academic,” Johnston was quoted as saying. And she has been, getting a master’s in one institution, going to seminary at another, doing field research in India in her area of interest — Indian Catholicism — and currently working toward a Ph.D in religious studies at the University of Iowa....As it is, she sleeps on her office floor on the days she has to be in Iowa City, riding the Greyhound bus in from Des Moines."[more inside]