My annual report for the 2012-13 academic year stares at me from an undisturbed corner of my desk. I’m tempted not to fill it out.
It’s not that I’ve spent the past year in blissful inactivity. It’s just that what I’ve produced has no place on this form. To list my activities, they must be camouflaged and then smuggled into the shady category of “additional publications.” Even there, they would be considered dubious.
For the past 12 months I’ve moved from writing articles for refereed journals to creating digital products for high-school history teachers. These include lesson plans, sets of original documents, instructional videos, and short assessments of historical thinking. With my team of graduate students, we’ve eliminated the middleman. Rather than seeking a publisher, we upload our materials directly to the Internet and leave them by the proverbial digital curb. For free. To date, we are closing in on a million downloads.
Admirable and there are wonderful communication tools that make such things much easier these days. Of course there is the issue of credibility and working in areas where the barriers to adoption of your work are low enough, but this is part of the change that is going on.
Another issue is much of academia doesn't acknowledge such activity and can be hostile to it. In the 70s and 80s Carl Sagan lost his credibility in the astrophysics community because he was "wasting time" with public outreach. He was seen as a prima donna who wasn't advancing the field. It can be argued that he probably did as much for the field as anyone else by increasing the level of fascination with astronomy and paving the way for some spendy JPL projects. Neil deGrasse Tyson is his heir apparent - fortunately the astrophysics community realizes it was wrong the first time.
An ad that appeared during the 1912 Republican National Convention. Dial phones (called automatics) had been introduced - the big advantage was you were in control of the call and an operator was listening in (in theory at least).
Somehow it seems like relevant thing to point out.. 101 years ago
Here’s a hard pill to swallow for practitioners of “soft” sciences: Behavioral studies statistically exaggerate findings more often than investigations of biological processes do, especially if U.S. scientists are involved, a new report finds.
The inflated results stem from there being little consensus about experimental methods and measures in behavioral research, combined with intense publish-or-perish pressure in the United States, say evolutionary biologist Daniele Fanelli of the University of Edinburgh and epidemiologist John Ioannidis of Stanford University. Without clear theories and standardized procedures, behavioral scientists have a lot of leeway to produce results that they expect to find, even if they’re not aware of doing so, the researchers conclude Aug. 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“U.S. studies in our sample overestimated effects not because of a simple reluctance of researchers to publish nonsignificant findings, but because of how studies were conceived and carried out,” Fanelli says.