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Why Is Science Behind A Paywall?

A large portion of scientific research is publicly funded. So why do only the richest consumers have access to it?
posted by reenum on May 18, 2013 - 62 comments

IQ and the Nativist Movement

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]
posted by MisantropicPainforest on May 14, 2013 - 139 comments

A tide of STEM

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]
posted by tommyD on May 9, 2013 - 134 comments

The Minerva Controversy

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.
posted by infini on Mar 7, 2013 - 17 comments

Not Talking About Pakistan

Part I
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]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Feb 5, 2013 - 12 comments

Academic freedom under attack in NYC

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]
posted by mek on Feb 3, 2013 - 142 comments

"...an enormous erect phallus, and piles of lettuce in the background."

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."
posted by The Whelk on Jan 25, 2013 - 26 comments

Episciences Project

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]
posted by jeffburdges on Jan 19, 2013 - 11 comments

"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]
posted by zarq on Jan 5, 2013 - 68 comments

Eigenbinder

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]
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Oct 22, 2012 - 8 comments

"And beauty slandered with a bastard shame:"

'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."
posted by Fizz on Aug 28, 2012 - 94 comments

Quantifying the Gender Gap in Philosophy

Molly Paxton, Carrie Figdor, and Valerie Tiberius have a new paper in Hypatia quantifying the gender gap in philosophy (pdf). [more inside]
posted by Jonathan Livengood on Jul 30, 2012 - 51 comments

they’re willing to do it for the money: there’s no shortage of them

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]
posted by gerryblog on Jul 26, 2012 - 67 comments

Parlez-vous war criminal? Leopold Munyakazi and Goucher college

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]
posted by thetarium on Jul 24, 2012 - 24 comments

hey, you got the one thing that I'm angry about in the other thing that I'm angry about

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.
posted by gerryblog on Jul 24, 2012 - 87 comments

anyone who goes into science expecting employers to clamor for their services will be deeply disappointed

In the sciences, Ph.D. ≠ job.
posted by gerryblog on Jul 8, 2012 - 92 comments

Trouble in the Old Dominion

Uproar over forced resignation of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan enters second week. [more inside]
posted by Partial Law on Jun 18, 2012 - 371 comments

Too many trainee positions in biomedical research

The U.S. National Institute of Heath has urged steps to curb growth in "training" positions in biomedical research (report). [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Jun 16, 2012 - 39 comments

alt-ac census

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]
posted by Orinda on May 16, 2012 - 26 comments

The Emergence of a Citation Cartel

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.)
posted by escabeche on May 15, 2012 - 26 comments

From Graduate School to Welfare.

"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]
posted by Kitty Stardust on May 10, 2012 - 590 comments

"A strict academic caste system."

"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]
posted by edheil on Apr 28, 2012 - 116 comments

Computer Science: Still have Byte? Or Down to Bits?

While growth prospects in the field are incredibly high, recent trends, such as "tools grow[ing] more advanced" (see Adobe Flash Builder or MS Visual Studio) have had people wondering over the past few years if computer science has much room for growth left. Some question whether it is alive. Others, such as Carnegie Mellon, say not so fast. In any case, employment has been a bit iffy (/.). There is the possibility that Computer Science is simply growing up (PDF), then again the U of Florida decided to say good bye to it this past week. But hey, if you are not going to that University, and still are shooting for computer science, here are some tips.
posted by JoeXIII007 on Apr 23, 2012 - 57 comments

On the Aftermath of Sexual Misconduct

Having heard way to many similar stories, Dr. Kate Clancy, author of the popular Scientific American blog Context and Variation, has recently run two accounts written by graduate students about their experiences with sexual harassment in the hopes that they will spark a wider discussion. The comments in the second article are uncharacteristically amazing and include several more women sharing their experiences. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Mar 13, 2012 - 94 comments

A Ph.D. in comic book form.

Nick Sousanis has been approved to write and submit what may be the first ever Ph.D. dissertation in comic book form. See here (PDF) for a taste of the style and content.
posted by Rumple on Mar 5, 2012 - 39 comments

Scientists boycott Elsevier

The Cost of Knowledge lets scientists register their support for a boycott of all Elsevier journals for their support of SOPA, PIPA (tag) and the Research Works Act (previously, WP, MLA, UK, Oz, etc.). It appears the boycott was inspired by Field's medalist Tim Gowers' recent comments describing his personal boycott of Elsevier journals. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Jan 29, 2012 - 60 comments

On Becoming Infertile - by an Anonymous Feminist Philosopher

Let's Talk About Reproductive Norm Enforcement, Baby. An anonymous philoso-blogger recounts, in an honest, intelligent, compelling, and occasionally poignant way, the process of undergoing medically necessary surgery that would cause infertility. If you care about the reproductive expectations with which women are saddled by contemporary society, you should read this. You should also read this if you care about bioethics, medical decorum, feminism, women in academia, the ethical behavior of philosophers, or, you know, justice. If you care about those last four things, you should have been reading Feminist Philosophers already.
posted by MultiplyDrafted on Jan 24, 2012 - 114 comments

"...to explore better ways to create and deliver the formal published record."

Have you seen the article of the future?
posted by iamkimiam on Jan 6, 2012 - 52 comments

Revising Research

Emory University English professor Mark Bauerlein (previously) argues that the majority of research by literary academics has no meaningful value. [more inside]
posted by reenum on Nov 21, 2011 - 77 comments

you sold your souls, and you’re going to continue selling them

For all the outrage, the real scandal is not that students are getting illegally paid or recruited, it’s that two of the noble principles on which the NCAA justifies its existence—“amateurism” and the “student-athlete”—are cynical hoaxes, legalistic confections propagated by the universities so they can exploit the skills and fame of young athletes. The tragedy at the heart of college sports is not that some college athletes are getting paid, but that more of them are not.
posted by gerryblog on Sep 13, 2011 - 55 comments

The Lairds of Learning

Who are the most ruthless capitalists in the Western world? Whose monopolistic practices makes WalMart look like a corner shop and Rupert Murdoch look like a socialist? You won’t guess the answer in a month of Sundays. While there are plenty of candidates, my vote goes not to the banks, the oil companies or the health insurers, but – wait for it – to academic publishers. Theirs might sound like a fusty and insignificant sector. It is anything but. Of all corporate scams, the racket they run is most urgently in need of referral to the competition authorities.
posted by veedubya on Aug 30, 2011 - 134 comments

Shortage of STEM Workers

Is There a Shortage of Skilled Foreign Workers? What is never mentioned is that “the best and the brightest” are already here. This argument is an old one. [more inside]
posted by BuffaloChickenWing on Aug 19, 2011 - 43 comments

Inside the Law School Scam

An anonymous, tenured, mid-career faculty member at a Tier One law school shares his/her observations on the state of contemporary American legal education.
posted by joe lisboa on Aug 12, 2011 - 82 comments

the academic upper middle class needs to rethink its alliances

What we have in academia, in other words, is a microcosm of the American economy as a whole: a self-enriching aristocracy, a swelling and increasingly immiserated proletariat, and a shrinking middle class. The same devil’s bargain stabilizes the system: the middle, or at least the upper middle, the tenured professoriate, is allowed to retain its prerogatives—its comfortable compensation packages, its workplace autonomy and its job security—in return for acquiescing to the exploitation of the bottom by the top, and indirectly, the betrayal of the future of the entire enterprise. Graduate school as suicide mission, in the Nation.
posted by gerryblog on May 8, 2011 - 232 comments

notorious sites of anti-intellectualism, alcohol abuse, and sexual assault

Should Colleges Ban Fraternities? A New York Times roundtable that takes the Yale Title IX complaint and related cases as its starting point. Via Historiann, whose anti-frat attitudes are much more pointed than any of the New York Times commenters.
posted by gerryblog on May 7, 2011 - 112 comments

Nature Special Issue on the Future of the PhD

Mark Taylor. Reform the PhD system or close it down. Nature 472, 261 (2011) [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Apr 26, 2011 - 54 comments

Budgetary Hemlock

How can you have a university without a philosophy department? In response to a 17% budget cut to higher education by Governor Sandoval, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas is proposing the complete elimination of its Philosophy Department. The Mayor of Las Vegas has called it a sin. Others have said it seems like something out of an episode of The Simpsons. Todd Edwin Jones, chair of the UNLV Philosophy Department, makes his case.
posted by Lutoslawski on Apr 7, 2011 - 159 comments

“Show me a grad student I can f*ck”

A Call to Shun. Women share sexual harassment stories on "Being a Woman in Philosophy." Several philosophers suggest the idea of not inviting known repeat offenders to conferences. Professor Mark Lance of Georgetown: It's time for philosophers to take a stand against "the many people in the profession believed by wide numbers of people to have engaged in horrible behavior on repeated occasions."
posted by availablelight on Mar 30, 2011 - 99 comments

twenty years of schoolin’ and

In over 35 years of friendship and conversation, Walter Michaels and I have disagreed on only two things, and one of them was faculty and graduate student unionization. He has always been for and I had always been against. I say “had” because I recently flipped and what flipped me, pure and simple, was Wisconsin. When I think about the reasons (too honorific a word) for my previous posture I become embarrassed. ... The big reason was the feeling — hardly thought through sufficiently to be called a conviction — that someone with an advanced degree and scholarly publications should not be in the same category as factory workers with lunch boxes and hard hats. Wisconsin has taught Stanley Fish that academics are workers too. Marc Bousquet (author of How the University Works) responds at the Chronicle of Higher Education with five lessons for academics from Wisconsin.
posted by gerryblog on Mar 23, 2011 - 48 comments

Activity “adverse to the interests of the university”?

Professor Sheila Addison was fired from John F. Kennedy University for performing in a burlesque revue. Steven Stargardter, president of the university, said that her actions brought “public disrespect, contempt and ridicule to the university”, although she never publicized the show on campus, discussed it with students or identified her affiliation with JFK when she performed. Meanwhile, a male colleague in another department was performing at the same time in a one-man show in which he was partially nude, and he publicized his show on campus and invited students and colleagues. He was not disciplined.
posted by kyrademon on Mar 16, 2011 - 132 comments

Dr. zu Googleberg

In February, a political and academic scandal broke in Germany when it turned out that the defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg had plagiarized parts of his doctoral dissertation, defended in 2006 and published as a book in 2009. Guttenberg, who had initially denied the allegations and maintained his popularity despite the scandal, resigned on 1 March. [more inside]
posted by daniel_charms on Mar 7, 2011 - 28 comments

Is the Academic World Biased Against Conservatives?

Some Social Scientists Claim Pervasive Bias in the Academe Discrimination is always high on the agenda at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s conference, where psychologists discuss their research on racial prejudice, homophobia, sexism, stereotype threat and unconscious bias against minorities. But the most talked-about speech at this year’s meeting, which ended Jan. 30, involved a new “outgroup.”
posted by modernnomad on Feb 9, 2011 - 180 comments

Academic defies Glenn Beck

American academic Frances Fox Piven has been heavily criticised by Glenn Beck as a threat to the American way of life. She is not for turning.
posted by Grinder on Feb 7, 2011 - 154 comments

Is academic sociology lost inside its own theoretical bubble?

Real Men Find Real Utopias Historian reviews new book by bigshot sociologist Erik Olin Wright and gives it a thorough drubbing. Wishes sociology could be like it used to be, with more history and better English. Via ALDaily.
posted by Philosopher's Beard on Jan 21, 2011 - 34 comments

As dull as dishwater

Brace yourself for five piping-hot minutes of inertia.
posted by lukemeister on Dec 30, 2010 - 33 comments

I Smoke Crack Rocks

PhDChallenge.org proposed a challenge: To have the phrase "I smoke crack rocks" included in a peer reviewed academic paper. The winner is Gabriel Parent from Carnegie Mellon, who included it in his paper [PDF].
posted by reenum on Dec 16, 2010 - 54 comments

the science^H^H^H^H^H^H^H public understanding of humankind

"The purposes of the Association shall be to advance anthropology as the science that studies public understanding of humankind in all its aspects."
At this year's meeting of the American Anthropological Association, the organization's board adopted a new mission statement whose description of its goals omitted all mention of anthropology as a science. An online debate ensued. Some researchers in the anthropological sciences are upset about the changes, while right-wing culture warriors see it as another salvo in the "science wars" or the takeover of the discipline by "fluff-head cultural anthropological types who think science is just another way of knowing." Other anthropologists think this is an opportunity to broaden the discipline and embrace non-scientific forms of knowledge. [more inside]
posted by RogerB on Dec 4, 2010 - 55 comments

Coming Out in the Sciences

"We realized we'd never seen a Coming Out Day feature dedicated to the experiences of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered persons in the sciences and engineering." Science journalist Steve Silberman interviews Neena Schwartz, and gathers personal stories from Eric Patridge (President of Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), Tomlinson Holman (inventor of the THX Sound System), and others. [more inside]
posted by magstheaxe on Oct 12, 2010 - 6 comments

The fights are so vicious because the stakes are so low.

Sabotage in the lab. "As the problems mounted, Ames was getting agitated. She was certain that someone was monkeying with her experiments, but she had no proof and no suspect. Her close friends suggested that she was being paranoid." Scientific research collides with human nature.
posted by bitmage on Oct 4, 2010 - 64 comments

We're number 1,2,3,or 4, or at least we were in 2005, we're reasonably sure.

After five years of number-crunching and methodological controversy, the NRC's rankings of US graduate programs were released today, three years after the target date and fifteen since the previous ranking. Peruse the results at phds.org. Instead of numerical ratings, the NRC released two rankings, the "R-ranking" and the "S-ranking", each one with a wide error bar around it. Confused yet? Brian Leiter thinks the philosophy rankings "qualify as somewhere between "odd" and "inexplicable."" The University of Washington's CS department says their ranking of 15-32 is "clearly erroneous." Obviously, the only appropriate response is to compute asymptotic formulae for the number of possible fuzzy rankings.
posted by escabeche on Sep 28, 2010 - 40 comments

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