The publishing dilemma for a new(ish) academic

In the way of things that makes coincidence sometimes seem an inadequate rationalisation, I finally submitted a paper to a journal on the same day that Steve Wheeler published the first of two blog-posts about publishing journal articles. I have a real issue with having to publish in a peer reviewed, behind a paywall, journal. This not because I dislike peer-review, on the contrary, my experience to date has been positive, but I dislike the secrecy and the lack of conversation that goes with the process and I struggle with the concept that publically funded work (I am paid by a UK University) is not freely available to everyone.

I suppose I could have insisted that my article be submitted to an open-reviewing-not-behind-a-pay-wall journal. But, as Steve points out, particularly for those of us at the beginning of our academic career, this is problematic due to the pressure on us to publish in high impact journals. I have not submitted to a high impact journal, I have submitted to a journal that I thought might be interested in my work but still has blind reviewing and a paywall.

So, you may ask, why send the article there and not to a journal that I know has open reviewing and no paywall, the type of journal I believe in and want to support? Because I was advised to submit it where I did by someone with more experience and a huge publication record. And because submitting to a recognised journal was an objective for my annual performance review and therefore, ultimately, because I want to keep my job. This, I guess, is one of the oldest dilemmas in the book: employment and conformity to a (broken?) system or potential employment issues but sticking to one’s guns.

And even acknowledging that I acquiesced to employment+conformity, I am left in a quandary. I think that some of the work that has gone into the paper is worth talking about; I feel quite excited about it. I’m surprised by this because I was rather cynical about writing it up; it felt like ticking a box or jumping through a hoop rather than something meaningful. But I think there is something meaningful in what I wrote. I want to talk about the work with people. I want to ask them what they think. I want their feedback and their input to make the work better; more robust. But I don’t know if I am allowed. I don’t know how much of the work I can talk about on this blog for example? Can I publish my model here and ask people what they think, or do I need to wait until it’s published behind a pay-wall and then hope that maybe someone will bother to read it and engage with me about it? Once it is published can I make the PDF available here , or will I get into trouble? If so, how do I make it available?

Which brings me back to the beginning. I don’t like articles behind paywalls. I want everyone to be able to read my work if they think it is worth their time. I want people to give me feedback and feed-forward. I’d rather they were constructive so that I can improve the work, but I’d take negative, at least it might be the opener for a conversation. As it is, behind a paywall probably means little if any readership and so not much comment at all. And I find that frustrating!

Flipping the classroom

So, I am about to write a paper on the Flipped Classroom with a colleague and I need a place to list some sources so that I don’t forget them; I’ve chosen here. Maybe I’ll be a little more discerning later once I know more about what I’m doing, but until then here’s a run-down of what I’ve looked at so far:

1. This contains a really useful quote about leaner-centred educators, which is what flipping the classroom is all about. https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/flipping-the-classroom-a-goldmine-of-research-and-resources-to-keep-you-on-your-feet/

2. This is a really useful physics paper about the effect if flipping the classroom using a control group (the ethics of this are interesting). On Google Scholar this has been cited 314 times, so I’m guessing this is an important piece of work to consider. I should probably also look at the 314 that cite it, but thankfully I am not undertaking a review of every single piece of literature, so we’re all good!  http://www.sciencemag.org/content/332/6031/862.short

3. The Flipped Learning Network has a section on research, reports and studies, including some big review papers of 40+ pages… http://www.flippedlearning.org/domain/41

4. This is an article about a chap who teaches Biology in the USA from the Seattle Times. http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/washington-college-instructors-are-flipping-the-way-they-teach/

5. Tom Driscoll, whose 2012 thesis was on flipped learning, has a blog site that pulls together all sorts of useful stuff http://www.flipped-history.com/p/flipped-learning.html

6. Tom’s graduate thesis is here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0VIwE5hKSWta0RqbmdZSGh0WTQ/edit?pli=1

#BYOD4L Day two: communicating

I haven’t been able to spend my day thinking about the scenarios today (note to self to watch them first-thing tomorrow) as I’ve been a bit busy, and I’m kinda tired too. As a result I guess my thoughts are probably a little less formed than they might otherwise be.

Anyhoo, I decided to think about scenario two. As someone who works in our Learning and Teaching Centre my first thought is about showing him the LTC website and the CPD sessions and the L&T contact for his department so that he can start having conversations with others. And then encourage him onto the Post grad Cert in Academic Practice.

But this is all face-to-face and quite how that fits with BYOD is beyond me really. I am struggling with this (and feeling a little concerned to post!)

Perhaps I’d also suggest he take a course like this, or another free online course. And then maybe that he join online communities like the PeerWise Community to ask questions and see what other people are doing. I’d also want to know what, in particular he is interested in. For example, I have a colleague who is flipping his classrooms and I’d put them in touch to have a chat, and I’d probably introduce them via email or Twitter (dependent on this guys preference).

None of this feels very inspired, nor is it embedded in or supported by, tech, but I think ultimately for me this is about personal interaction and often face-to-face personal interaction…

Too much information, and too many ways to store it

Some days I feel like I’m drowning in electronic ‘stuff’; information and articles and papers that I don’t have time to read but that I’d really like to keep, just in case I happen upon some time when I’m cleaning behind the filing cabinet.

And so I try all sorts of new/interesting ways to creatively managing this ‘stuff’, and then I end up drowning in (mostly) electronic solutions instead, forgetting i have accounts and not using them to their potential at all!

I use Evernote, only I’d forgotten that I use Evernote and I’d been not using it and storing things in Word documents in DropBox instead. So, I use DropBox too, clearly, and iCloud (although I don’t know what this is really). And then there’s Facebook and Twitter and Google+ (I have an account but I don’t really know what this does either) and Pocket and Penultimate and Skitch (although I think this only does pictures and I only have it because it links to Evernote) and real physical beautiful Moleskin notebooks (in five different colours), some of which talk to Evernote. Then there’s my three (or is it four) email accounts. I have a 3-Minute Journal, an Outlook calendar, a Google calendar and an iCloud-mail-something calendar too. Then there’s Pinterest which seems like a good idea for ‘storing’ things, but it is public, so I’m not sure if that would be appropriate and what about Tumblr?

And if I keep thinking about it I can keep naming ‘solutions’!

Which makes me wonder how it is to be a student? As an undergraduate, how would I navigate all of this ‘stuff’ when I have NO idea which bits of it are important, and which aren’t? And who would teach me, or would I just have to figure it out on my own?

And so then I wonder about our responsibilities as academics? What should we teach our students about all of this? The assumption that they already know is unhelpful. We need to show them how to manage all that information, to think critically about it and decide what is useful to them and how to store it in a meaningful and retrievable way for future use.

Which makes me wonder, what would be a good tool for that, and can anyone explain Reddit to me?