This trend is of great concern and soon to be newly-minted PhDs need to be aware of it. Do not submit a book proposal to a press without thoroughly checking it out, and talking to your advisor. Ditto for journals.
NYTimes: Scientific Articles Accepted (Personal Checks, Too)
A parallel world of pseudo-academia, with prestigiously titled conferences and journals that will print seemingly anything for a fee, has the scientific community alarmed.
This short piece in the Chronicle discusses some of the emerging efforts to map data about scientific literature in new ways. I was reminded of the idea of “thought worlds” in science (Douglas 1986); these tools may provide another perspective on their emergence and consolidation and the relationships among them.
One of the commenters (mbelvadi) makes an excellent point, though, about how researchers’ proper use of existing data tools is sometimes rather weak – I have heard the same thing from students and others, that they search JSTOR or EBSCO host (implicitly assuming it is a comprehensive source of citations). Remember that you should always search a general citation index like ISI’s Web of Science (part of Web of Knowledge) or Google Scholar as a starting point; databases like JSTOR are simply full-text archives for specific sets of journals, and because of contractual details may or may not include all important journals for a particular field. They is not the same thing as a citation index. ISI’s web-based product has its roots in the old printed version of Science Citation Index, which you would remember as the blue books if you were old enough and had been doing research in the “old days” (and yes, I remember). It’s a lot more efficient and effective to use the online versions to explore threads of literature backwards and forwards in time, than it was to go back and forth through the years of blue books to do the same thing…but there was a certain romance or mystery to uncovering new relationships between ideas in the academic dialogue through time by flipping pages.
I recommend highly that anyone planning a career in academia as a faculty member or as an adjunct subscribe to this mailing list, or peruse its postings online from time to time. There is a great deal of useful professional development material provided in it.
I really like the way they operationalized the concept of fiscal space; will probably include the NBER version of the work in next iteration of this class’ public debt module.
De facto fiscal space and fiscal stimulus: Definition and assessment
Read the following quote which opens an article in the November 2010 issue of National Geographic:
“A biologist named Hugh Dingle, striving to understand the essence [of animal migration], has identified five characteristics that apply, in varying degrees and combinations, to all migrations. The are prolonged movements that carry animals outside familiar habitats; they tend to be linear, not zigzaggy; they involve special behaviors of preparation (such as overfeeding) and arrival; they demand special allocations of energy. And one more: Migrating animals maintain a fervid attentiveness to the greater mission, which keeps them undistracted by temptations and undeterred by challenges that would turn other animals aside.” Quammen, David. “Great Migrations.” National Geographic, November 2010, 28-51.
Now, consider replacing the concepts of “animal” with “ABD student”…and “migration” with “completing the dissertation”. A successful migrating animal turns out to have a lot in common with those who attain the doctor of philosophy. You will be carried out of your familiar territory, those convenient habits of mind and preconceptions that have comforted you in the past. You will need to avoid sidetracks and backtracks as much as possible (though few avoid them altogether). You will engage in “special behaviors of preparation” – hopefully not overfeeding, or worse, overdrinking, but certainly the intensive study of the work of who have trod your path before. You will only succeed if you consider carefully the allocation of your time and energy, and continually reallocate as necessary; some activities you engage in during easier times may need to be jettisoned. And when you reach your goal, you will have achieved something of intrinsic (though generally not great monetary) value, which most others do not – but you will also have learned that no one makes this journey without cost.