Research Publications Newsletters Above the Fold Above the Fold - 27 May 2015


Why Is The University Still Here? • 17 May 2015

Danny Crichton explains why nothing seems to have changed about the way we get our degrees or even continuing coursework. This is the case despite universities having been on the Silicon Valley hit list for much of the past decade.

This is a very sensible take on the systemic flaws that "startup-landia" overlooked as they built out the platforms to deliver MOOCs. Crichton says they stripped motivation and primacy out of the products. That makes them inherently unable to engage adults with education in the way that universities traditionally can. MOOCs can't stand up to life, i.e., family, job and other distractions. (Michalko)

The Trouble With Scientists • 14 May 2015

The problem of false or exaggerated published research findings is examined at length in this essay by Philip Ball. He looks towards the dizzying variety of cognitive biases which have been neglected with enormous consequences to science.

This is a good review article that will help you to understand the crisis of reproducibility, the demand for the underlying data, and the reasons why these demands will only increase over time and across disciplines. Ball is very persuasive that it is delusional to imagine that science as a communal activity will be self-correcting. Maybe. But not promptly or smoothly. Consider the implications for the Evolving Scholarly Record and library responsibilities. There's a good interactive chart in this Vox article about how and where science can go off the rails. Spoiler alert: Press releases are a big contributor. (Michalko)

Do We Need Formal Quality Standards for Science?

Pacific Standard • 7 May 2015

This article reflects on the guidelines proposed by the National Institutes of Health that have already been rejected by several major scientific journals. The author says the guidelines grew out of a growing concern that science is failing to self-correct or doing it too slowly.

The new guidelines seem pretty straightforward—check statistical accuracy, describe the methods, require that published data be freely shared, etc. (Yet another expectation for research data and the implications for the Evolving Scholarly Record.) The reasons to object differ by discipline but the key difference is between basic exploratory research and pre-clinical research. The former doesn't want to follow the guidelines while the latter really ought to. (Michalko)

REF Tactics: Can You Win by Fielding the Whole Team? • 7 May 2015

In this article Paul Jump explains that when it comes to the UK's research assessment protocol—the Research Excellence Framework (REF)—universities face a choice between aiming for the highest quality scores and the greatest number of staff submitted. "Is it better to be rich or well thought of?"

There's plenty of pressure on researchers to produce which reinforces those confirmation biases mentioned in earlier articles in this issue. The reward systems that confer kudos, tenure and funding are a strong distorting influence. Imagine the multiplier that occurs when the very big institutional stakes of this research assessment regime are layered on to the personal reward system. (Michalko)

Working, Dancing, Hiding

The Ridiculous Jobs Of The Digital Economy, Illustrated As Children's Book Characters

Act Any Age


The first because Richard Scarry stopped before he got to overpaid programming intern.

The second because it's a charming example of successful brand social media marketing.

The third because you never know when you might need to blend in with subway tile. (Michalko)


Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, institutions should undertake an accurate census of their archival collections as a foundation for what?

Get the answer.