Impact Round-Up 1st February: Privacy and open data, publication bias, and the mechanization of scholarship.


Managing Editor Sierra Williams presents a round-up of popular stories from around the web on higher education, academic impact, and trends in scholarly communication.

1. Are Blogs Inherently Un-Professional? asks Stephen Saideman in response to the International Studies Association’s proposal to bar editorial members from writing or managing blogs external to the ISA. Saideman writes,

The real issue is not about blogging but responsibility.  You want any editor to be professional and responsible, regardless of the media through which they choose to communicate.  So rather than saying editors cannot blog, why not just ask them to be professional?  And if you cannot trust your editors to be professional, then study some principal-agency theory to figure out how to delegate and then oversee. [read more]

2. What’s the Point of Academic Publishing? by Sarah Kendzior in Vitae.

Publishing and labor are two of academia’s most contentious issues, and they are usually debated separately. But when the rate of contingency hires and publications rise together—with the assumption that the latter is a means to avoid the former—they need to be taken as a broader problem: the self-defeating mechanization of scholarship. [read more]

credit: fleshas (CC BY-SA)

3. Privacy in the Age of Open Data by Sean Mackinnon at the Open Science Collaboration blog.

With open data comes increased responsibility. As researchers, we need to take particular care to balance the advantages of data-sharing with the need to protect research participants from harm….Violations of privacy will always be a risk: However, some relatively simple steps on the part of the researcher can make re-identification of individual participants much more challenging…[read more]

4. Here’s a New Attempt to Fight the Scourge of Publication Bias by Kevin Drum in Mother Jones.

…it’s fairly safe to assume that nonsignificant results aren’t being published, and that in turn means that you can extrapolate the p-curve to estimate the actual average of all the studies that have been conducted. And when you do, the average effect size almost always goes down. [read more]

5. Pursuing a Social Media Policy that Supports Academic Freedom by Kris Shaffer at Hybrid Pedagogy.

When strong policies on academic freedom, publishing, or speaking in public are already in place, the best social media policy is often one that simply spells out how existing policies apply to the use of social media. Such a policy would be difficult to reject, as well as difficult to change, since it would be clear how any proposed social media limitations would limit academic freedom or affect other modes of scholarly discourse…Many faculty who are not concerned about limitations to social media will fight attempts to change a general policy on academic freedom. [read more]

6. Impact, engagement and the social sciences by Simon Cook reflects on two impact-related events that took place in the last week: Social Science and the Politics of Public Engagement (Storify here) and our own book launch event, Engaged Social Science: Impact and the use of research in the UK (podcast of the event can be found here, slides below).