The invigorating function of twitter for academics

I am a passionate twitter user. Not only do I get the majority of news about the social media giant, also my connection to colleagues from political life, feminist and football discussions are mostly coming from there. For the academic sphere, I also feel that twitter provides an easy way to connect to other academics all over the world. I would not say that it this really leads to fruitful discussions about content. But the share of aspect of the academic every day life and its conditions start to provide a motivating environment that unveils the most common misunderstanding of young academics: The believe that I am the only one that is suffering from (fill in as you like: mean reviews, bad working conditions, unfair judgment, …). It is still sort of astonishing that many young academics but also tenured scholars are open about their own experiences, fully aware about the field. But I really believe that this might contribute to change – step by step.

Two texts made me think about that role of twitter (and maybe also other social media) this week:

The Awesomest 7-Year Postdoc or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tenure-Track Faculty Life

Why You Gotta Be So Mean?

Beside that, I also recommend to read the following hashtag discussions: #phdchat and #phdforum.

British MPs on Twitter

“If there is a new relationship forming, it is still in its very early stages.”

Recent University of Nottingham graduate James Donald analyzed the use of twitter among parties and Members of Parliament in the UK. His three pieces cover the questions: “Who’s tweeting?“, “Which parties are tweeting?” and “What are MPs tweeting about?“. He draws conclusion from a short descriptive analysis of the tweeter activities of British MP from last year and finds that despite some new forms of communication through social media such as twitter, a sort of ‘new relationship’ has not been established between politicians and the public.


UDE: Schreibwoche für Promovierende

Das wunderbare Doknet an meiner Fakultät für Gesellschaftswissenschaften bietet eine Schreibwoche für Promovierende an. Eine Woche lang nicht alleine schreiben. Viel Erfolg!

Keine Angst vor einer Schreibblockade! Die Schreibwoche bietet die Gelegenheit, konzentriert an der eigenen Arbeit, trotzdem gemeinsam mit anderen zu schreiben. Ein Raum bietet absolute Ruhe zum konzentrierten Schreiben, in einem anderen Raum gibt es Kaffee/Tee und Beratung bei Schreibproblemen und Schreibblockaden. Zusätzlich werden Arbeitsblätter zu Schreibtechniken angeboten. Optionale gemeinsame Pausen bieten die Gelegenheit zum Austausch mit anderen Promovierenden.

Schreibwoche für Promovierende in den Gesellschaftswissenschaften*
30.09 – 04.10.1013 von 08:00-18:00 LF 032 und LF 035 Campus Duisburg

Warum: Promovieren und schreiben findet häufig in Einsamkeit statt. Wir bieten eine Woche lang „Schreiben in Gemeinschaft!“

Was: In einem Schreibraum findest du Ruhe zum Schreiben und im Pausen- und Beratungsraum auch Unterstützung z.B. zur Optimierung von Schreibstrategien oder bei Schreibblockaden. Dort stehen auch Getränke und Snacks bereit.

Wie: Die Räume sind von 08:00-18:00 geöffnet. Als Schreibtrainerin und Coach steht Dr. Jutta Wergen bereit. Am 03.10. (Feiertag) findet eine Schreibberatung per Telefon oder skype statt.

Die Schreibwoche dient der Motivation, dem Austausch zwischen Promovierenden und soll noch mehr Lust auf Schreiben machen!

Mitbringen: alles was du zum Schreiben brauchst.
Für Getränke und Snacks wird eine Umlage berechnet

*Promovierende anderer Fakultäten sind ebenso herzlich willkommen

Anmeldung bitte unter

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.

Why the 2014 European Parliament elections will matter

The upcoming elections to the European parliament in 2014 seem to be far away right now. This is especially the case in Germany where regional and national elections take are due before May 2014. However, some changes in the next EP elections will make them more important than ever.

Not only the enduring Eurozone crisis but also the changed strategy of the big parties will make these election a hot issue for the future of European politics. The two main parties, social democrats (PES) and the people’s party (EPP) plan to bring a candidate for the position of the Commission President. Their totally different opinions on the future of the European fiscal policies promise an interesting and challenging election campaign. Simon Hix and Christophe Crombez look ahead to the campaign and analyze the voters’ opportunities in the elections: Why the 2014 European Parliament elections will be about more than protest votes | EUROPP.

Politische Beteiligung: Wer, wie, wozu?

“Out of balance – Critique of the presence” war das Semesterthema der Klasse “Entwerfen Visueller Systeme” der Berliner Universität der Künste. Design dient dabei als Instrument des Erkenntnisgewinns. Die Veranstaltung widmete sich des Wettbewerbs zur visuellen Auseinandersetzung mit der Gegenwart im Sinne Otto Neuraths statt, ausgeschrieben von der Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau und dem Magazin Arch+.

Die drei WZB-Forscher Mareike Alscher, Sebastian Bödeker und Marc Helbling begleiteten die Studierenden bei diesem  Projekt. Entstanden ist ein Kurzfilm zur sozialen Frage der Demokratie. Er veranschaulicht in schlichtem ansprechendem Design, wie Einkommen und Bildung die politische Beteiligung beeinflussen und zeigt bildlich, warum sich Menschen mit wenig Einkommen und niedriger Bildung von der Politik ausgeschlossen fühlen.

Upcoming: Changing national student governance in Germany

On Jul 18, 2013 the Students in 20th century research network at the University of Portsmouth hosts a symposium to re-focus the history and social science on students themselves, as well as the role and importance of students in twentieth century Europe. Together with my colleague Jens Jungblut, UiO I will present results from our research on the organizational development of the German national student union.

Abstract: Changing national student governance in Germany – factors of influence

The paper analyses the organizational development of fzs, the national union of students in Germany from its foundation in 1993 until 2010. It describes the multi-level system of student representation in Germany and the main organisational changes in fzs. These changes are linked to environmental factors such as the Bologna Process, changes in the German federal system, student protests or a growing diversity in the German higher education area.

Furthermore, the paper describes the internal tension stemming from opposing expectations by the local student unions in Germany. Starting out as a rather small, ideologically driven and more network oriented association fzs grew and moved towards an umbrella organization with a more professional working structure. These changes were influenced by fzs’ environment. The current diversification in German higher education that led to the loss of influence of the federal level and growing diversity between the Bundesländer, together with increasing influence of commodification in the context of the Bologna Process coincide with the decrease of impact and members of fzs after 2005.