Information ressource: Phd on track

Two norwegian Universities, the University Library of Aalborg University, two Norwegian University Colleges and the Nasjonalbibliotheket have set up the website PhD on track. PhD on Track is a resource for PhD students who are beginning their research career, and who want to learn more about information- and literature for research purposes, and about how to publish research.

PhD on Track is divided into three modules:

Review and discover. In this module basic principles and techniques for mapping literature and sources for your research are explained. Reference management systems are also suggested. By familiarizing yourself with available tools, techniques and methods for literature searching and referencing you will enhance both the efficiency and quality of your workflow.

Share and publish. In this module the publishing process is addressed. The steps involved in traditional article submissions and peer-review processes are explained, as well as copyright issues. Further, the model of Open Access publishing is introduced. Making informed decisions about where and how to publish increases the chances of getting your work published and disseminated.

Evaluation and Ranking. In this module an overview is given of how research quality is measured for funding purposes in the Danish and Norwegian systems. As a publishing researcher, you will need knowledge about how different publications are ranked by authorities and institutions.

The selection of topics under each heading is based on findings from a study of PhD candidates’ interaction with information in research processes. PhD on Track and the study of PhD students’ interaction with information and literature are the products of a joint project involving the university libraries in Oslo, Bergen and Aalborg, the NHH library and the Bergen University College Library. The project received development funding from the National Library of Norway.

via Phd on track » About PhD on Track.

Why you gotta be so mean? The process of peer reviews

The process of peer reviewing is common to everyone who ever tried to publish something in an academic journal. Luckily I have bee lucky with my reviewers so far. But colleagues told me stories of despair – destructive and mean, sometimes even personal comments in a review such as “this cannot be a good article since I assume it has been written by …. “. That is what we call double-blind peer review, the assurance for quality in academic publishing.

Right now, Eric Schneiderhan from U Toronto published an article on the Chronicle , taking the Taylor Swift song as a starting point for his arguments: Why you gotta be so mean?

His six bullet point ideas are worth to be shared, even if I am not sure about the first:

  • Let’s make the process transparent. Once the final decision has been made on a manuscript, why not reveal the names of reviewers, at least for those who have tenure? Being forced to look one’s potential object of scorn in the eye at a future conference might eliminate the worst and most uncalled-for comments.
  • Edit out the mean stuff. Editors: Is it really that scary to ask someone to alter their tone? Why not do some editing of reviews?
  • Advisers and tenured faculty members: Speak up. Instead of patting the back of the graduate student who just got a scathing review (and might be crying in your office), why not write to the journal editor and point out that a little more sensitivity in delivering a negative review never hurt anyone? And if you have tenure and one of your manuscripts got a really nasty review, write to the editor and politely point out your concerns.
  • Shame the editorial boards. Imagine a Wiki with a section for each journal. One could anonymously post mean quotes from reviews. That way, over time we might begin to see if there is a concentration of the mean stuff at particular journals. I can’t imagine any member of an editorial board would feel good about her journal being on the Top 10 Most Mean list.
  • Model good behavior. When you write your next review, go out of your way to be gracious and nurturing. Try to
  • build people up rather than knocking them down. It might make you feel good, and it will show the recipient that good-quality reviews need not skimp on being nice.
  • Teach the next generation. As faculty members, we have a chance to show our students how to do it right. We can show them that being snarky is not the same as being smart. We can explain to them what really matters in a paper, and how to avoid sweating the small stuff. We can teach them why forcing our own project agendas on the manuscripts we review is unacceptable.

Read the whole article at The Chronicle: Why You Gotta Be So Mean? – Do Your Job Better – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Upcoming article: Conceptualizing hybrid national student unions

The Council of Europe Higher Education Series will see an edited volume on “Student engagement in Europe: society, higher education and student governance. My colleague Jens Jungblut an me have been accepted to contribute a paper on the typology of student organizations.

Starting from the typology for national systems of student representation and different types of student union organizations provided by Manja Klemencic we will further discuss such a concept. Klemencic clustered the different national unions of students in Europe in two groups: (a) student associations as social movement organizations and (b) student associations as interest groups. The proposed article will take this as its point of departure and will elaborate more in detail on different forms of student union organizations. Using concepts from institutional theory, this article will argue that while Klemencic’s typology works well for student unions in some countries, there is also a possibility that hybrid forms of student organizations will emerge in certain settings. The article will use the example of the national union of students in Germany, fzs, to illustrate the conceptual considerations.

Information on the edited volume: Student engagement in Europe: society, higher education and student governance | Manja Klemenčič.