Altmetric's top 100 academic research articles of 2015. These are the articles that captured the most attention from the mainstream media, blogs, Wikipedia, and social networks this year, according to Altmetric.
When the Supreme Court agrees to hear a case, they often receive dozens of amicus briefs, or "friend of the court" briefs; SCOTUS "opinions are increasingly studded with citations of facts they learned from amicus briefs." "The trouble with amicus facts... is that today anyone can claim to be a factual expert."
Celebrated writer Nalo Hopkinson blogs that the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy, the largest publicly-accessible collection of sf/f genre books in the world, may be in danger, in the wake of changes in the library and university administration. The archive is housed by the library system of UC Riverside and currently hosts a biennial conference, a lifetime achievement award for celebrated writers in the genre and a student short story contest. The journal Science Fiction Studies (based at DePauw) sponsors a fellowship to promote research at the Eaton archive.
Colombian student Diego Gomez faces four to eight years in prison for sharing an academic article online. [more inside]
Prestige scientific journals are bad for science, and we should avoid them. "Just as Wall Street needs to break the hold of bonus culture, so science must break the tyranny of the luxury journals." So argues Nobel laureate Randy Schekman, urging scholars to shift their work to open source journals. [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.
The new Sokal: Serbian academics hoax a scholarly journal into accepting their gag paper. (Scribd copy of paper)
Juicy J, member of the Oscar award-winning group Three 6 Mafia has offered $50,000 to promote his single 'Scholarship'. [more inside]
Last year, The Cooper Union For The Advancement Of Science And Art publicly admitted it was in dire financial straits and raised the idea of charging tuition for the first time in 110 years. The students responded in an appropriate manner. But now as the specter of tuition becomes closer to reality the students took a more drastic option: Since Monday, eleven undergraduate students have expertly barricaded themselves inside the top floor of the New York college. They talk about what they want. They even get pizza. [more inside]
Kalamazoo Promise has come up in discussion a couple of times. The program, funded by anonymous donors, covers tuition and fees for all graduates of Kalamazoo public high schools. [more inside]
Harvard’s annual cost for journals from these providers now approaches $3.75M. In 2010, the comparable amount accounted for more than 20% of all periodical subscription costs and just under 10% of all collection costs for everything the Library acquires. Some journals cost as much as $40,000 per year, others in the tens of thousands. Prices for online content from two providers have increased by about 145% over the past six years, which far exceeds not only the consumer price index, but also the higher education and the library price indices. These journals therefore claim an ever-increasing share of our overall collection budget. Even though scholarly output continues to grow and publishing can be expensive, profit margins of 35% and more suggest that the prices we must pay do not solely result from an increasing supply of new articles. Harvard's Faculty Advisory Council asks Harvard's faculty to change how they publish. [more inside]
We are making journal content on JSTOR published prior to 1923 in the United States and prior to 1870 elsewhere, freely available to the public for reading and downloading. This includes nearly 500,000 articles from more than 200 journals, representing approximately 6% of the total content on JSTOR.
Learning from YouTube. Ms. Juhasz, a professor of media studies, felt that her students needed to participate in this new medium in order to critique it. The same was true of her work: Academic writing on YouTube demands videos, not just words. That idea got a major boost this month when the MIT Press released Learning From YouTube, a free "video book" that was written by Ms. Juhasz and grew out of her class. It's the first time the press has published an online-only book, and it helped developers build a new platform for authorship that they hope will be used for more such works. It's also a test of academic waters: Will similar publications, backed by established presses, count toward tenure?
The Rise of the Pseudo-Conservative. Out of context, one could be forgiven for reading the following words as a critique of the political philosophy embraced by the modern-day Republican party and the various Tea Party groups organized around it: "It can most accurately be called pseudo-conservative. . . because its exponents, although they believe themselves to be conservatives and usually employ the rhetoric of conservatism, show signs of a serious and restless dissatisfaction with American life, traditions and institutions. . . Their political reactions express rather a profound if largely unconscious hatred of our society and its ways — a hatred which one would hesitate to impute to them if one did not have suggestive clinical evidence." [more inside]
A letter by Rene Descartes, stolen in 1840s, recovered in 2010 by online detective work. The letter was stolen by Guglielmo Libri, inspector general of the libraries of France, who stole thousands of valuable documents and fled to England in 1848. Since 1902 it's been in the collection of Haverford College, its contents unknown to scholars, and nobody there realized that it was an unknown letter. But because they had catalogued it and recently put their catalogue on line, Dutch philosopher Erik-Jan Bos found it "during a late-night session browsing the Internet". (A Haverford undergraduate thirty years ago had translated it and written a paper on it, in which he recognized that the letter was unknown -- but nobody followed up and the letter had sat in the library since then until it was listed online.) The letter includes some last-minute edits to the Meditations, and some thoughts on God as causa sui. Haverford, whose president was a philosophy major, is returning the letter to the Institut de France.
Secretive Scholars of the Old South. The Abbeville Institute is a scholarly society that seeks to promote a "distinctly Southern interpretation of American history and identity ... a valuable intellectual and spiritual resource for exposing and correcting the errors of American modernity." Founded in 2003 by Donald Livingston, philosophy professor at Emory University, the Institute will hold its 8th annual conference, "State Nullification, Secession, and the Human Scale of Political Order" next February.
Ethnography of Rock Band Bar Night. The Rock Band video game (and the similar Guitar Hero) are more than video games where players try to earn points and some are exploring the deeper meaning of such games. [more inside]
The MIT faculty unanimously adopted a university-wide Open Access mandate. Open Access got a big boost yesterday because of MIT's move. [more inside]
Dave Chalmers has just launched PhilPapers, a directory of nearly 200,000 online papers in philosophy. This is a jawdropping and amazing resource for philosophical research. For evidence of the scope of this project and the care that has been given to it, see the taxonomy of philosophy that was developed for the site.
FreshBrain: Online tech training (animation, video editing, graphic editing, application creation, etc) for youth - nonprofit and totally free. Featuring activities and contests
The Napoleon Series has been collecting Napoleonic scholarship since 1995. Its monstrously replete archive includes articles on Napoleon's role in Jewish emancipation, the Institute of Egypt and its investigation of the Rosetta Stone, obscure British generals, the Malet Conspiracy, and the never realized North American Empire; memoirs from the Russian Archives; and a massive collection of maps and battlefield tours.
Did a 'dream team' of biblical scholars mislead millions? [Chronicle of Higher Education] You may recall the curfuffle over the gnostic "Gospel of Judas" (previously). The National Geographic's documentary premiere "attracted four million viewers, making it the second-highest-rated program in the channel's history, behind only a documentary on September 11. . . . However, it's a perfect example, critics argue, of what can happen when commercial considerations are allowed to ride roughshod over careful research. What's more, the controversy has strained friendships in this small community of religion scholars — causing some on both sides of the argument to feel, in a word, betrayed."
The Scholar Ship, an international floating university stewarded by top universities in Morocco, the United Kingdom, China, Australia, Mexico, USA, and Ghana, have temporarily suspended all voyages due to lack of funds - mainly caused by the withdrawal of main sponsor and initiator Royal Caribbean International. The program ran two voyages in 2007 and 2008 before shutdown. Alumni and prospective students on Facebook and Ning are busily sourcing options to revive the organization, while Semester at Sea is offering spaces to students who were accepted for the now-cancelled voyages. [more inside]
The Work of Carol Rambo. (Warning, these articles are all PDF or .doc format.) Carol Rambo is a professor of sociology who paid her way through school by working as an exotic dancer. Rambo has written articles on the sociology of strip clubs, drawing upon her own experience as an exotic dancer. In one article, Rambo writes about "the discourse of deviance" that exotic dancers use to "organize their identities" in a process Rambo calls "narrative resistance." In another article, she writes about the concept of old age as it affects exotic dancers. In a third article, drawing upon her own experiences as a "table dancer," Rambo writes about "Interactional strategies that table dancers use to cultivate counterfeit intimacy," and she concludes that dancers manage to "carve out an autonomous niche in an otherwise oppressive context." Also interesting is her article on growing up as the daughter of a mentally retarded mother, "On Loving and Hating My Mentally Retarded Mother."
All I have to do is change my name to Peyton, motivate my girlfriend to marry me and have a baby, and hey presto! young Peyton will receive a six-figure scholarship to Brighton College in England, explains the BBC because the college can't fulfil the bequest by former pupil Derek Wakehurst Peyton. Brighton looks a nice place so roll up all Peytons, the college principal is spreading "the net wider to the United States, Australia and beyond." Second thoughts ... maybe simpler for me simply to motivate her to change her name ...
Stuck to their prom dates. Since 2001, Duck brand duct tape has sponsored a scholarship contest, open to any high school students willing to go to prom in outfits made of duct tape. This year's fashions range from the classic silver to wilder colors and patterns, and occasionally veer into the just plain strange. Dip into the archives for more.
This is good From RLG, an international not-for-profit organization of libraries, museums, and other research institutions, comes this incredibly useful research tool. Start with as vague a query as you like, it'll provide an ordered list of search limiters to help you zero in on the resources you need in a far more organic and rapid fashion than similar tools I've seen. An invaluable resource for students, librarians, and the curious.
Lexicon: An RPG - The basic idea is that each player takes on the role of a scholar, from before scholarly pursuits became professionalized (or possibly after they ceased to be). You are cranky, opinionated, prejudiced and eccentric. You are also collaborating with a number of your peers -- the other players -- on the construction of an encyclopedia describing some historical period (possibly of a fantastic world).
SCOTUS rules for seperation of church and state for once. The court's 7-2 ruling held that the state of Washington was within its rights to deny a taxpayer-funded scholarship to a college student who was studying to be a minister. That holding applies even when money is available to students studying anything else. "Training someone to lead a congregation is an essentially religious endeavor," Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the court majority. "Indeed, majoring in devotional theology is akin to a religious calling as well as an academic pursuit."
A protest of scientific journals, organized by the Public Library of Science with the help of over 20,000 scientists and researchers world-wide, will begin in September 2001 unless old research papers are made freely available online.
Female kicker's chilling effect. "Instead, the $2 million Mercer was awarded has given them two million reasons to question the risk of giving any woman a chance, especially at smaller schools where female players would otherwise be most likely to succeed."