Galbraith on why Universities should be contentious places [1]

Good universities have always been places of contention and dispute… And the best universities in their greatest phase have always been places of the most energetic and uninhibited contention. That is because, in great universities, ideas are important and issues are taken seriously and scholars are not cowards—and no one is so silly as to suppose there is such a think as orderly, well-regulated debate which, in the manner of a motion picture script, can be carefully tailored in advance to the taste of the audience and the prejudices of the censors.

Poor universities composed of craven men are inevitably very orderly places and bad universities have the silence and tranquility of the desert.

University of California. 1967. “Warren Joins Others in Urging Greater Understanding of UC, Academic Freedom.” University Bulletin: A Weekly Bulletin for the Staff of the University of California, May 8. 161

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The Real Crisis and the U of L… and why the Board must Act [1]

Full disclosure. I am a professor of English at the University of Lethbridge and a member of the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) Executive. ULFA is a party to a labour dispute associated with the events discussed in this piece.

The opinions presented here concern the wisdom of the Board’s current actions and are mine alone. They are published under my contractual right as a Faculty Member to “participate in public life, to criticize University or other administrations, to champion unpopular positions, to engage in frank discussion of controversial matters, and to raise questions and challenges which may be viewed as counter to the beliefs of society” under Handbook Article 11.01.1. They do not advocate any specific remedy under the Association’s contract, beyond following well-established, previously negotiated procedures.

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How to accept an invitation to a SSHRC application

This is a quick guide for my non-Canadian partners on how to accept an invitation to participate in a SSHRC application.

  1. Look for invitation from SSHRC in your inbox
    1. You will need the highlighted invitation number later.
    2. First click on the login/register link and set up your account with SSHRC or log in (if you already have one).
    3. If you are setting up a new account, keep the password memorable: it is difficult to get a reminder if you forget.
  2. After you have registered and confirmed your registration (SSHRC sends an email to confirm), you need to sign in using your SSHRC user name and password (i. Read the rest of this entry »

Customized pronouns: A good idea that makes no sense (Globe and Mail)

Originally published as O’Donnell, Daniel Paul. 2016. “Customized Pronouns: A Good Idea That Makes No Sense.” The Globe and Mail, October 15. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/customized-pronouns-a-good-idea-that-makes-no-sense/article32373933/.


The latest thing on campus is to introduce yourself by name and “preferred pronoun.” “Hello, my name is Dan and I prefer he/him. Read the rest of this entry »


The CASRAI CRediT Typology

This is just a reminder (and template) for me to use for the CASRAI credit typology:

Definitions

  • Conceptualization: Ideas; formulation or evolution of overarching research goals and aims.
  • Methodology: Development or design of methodology; creation of models
  • Software: Programming, software development; designing computer programs; implementation of the computer code and supporting algorithms; testing of existing code components.
  • Validation: Verification, whether as a part of the activity or separate, of the overall replication/reproducibility of results/experiments and other research outputs.
  • Read the rest of this entry »

Prayer as a management tool

On my way home now from a fascinating and fun two day visit with Kay Walters to Brigham Young University. I’m going to write more in a little about some of the great ideas I saw there having to do with research and the Digital Humanities. But I also want to comment on something more systemic that I saw there.

BYU, for those who don’t know, is a Mormon University (in Southern Alberta, which also has a lot of Mormons, we tend to prefer saying LDS over “Mormon”; in Utah, “Mormon” was by far the preferred term, as far as I could see). It is a church-owned, private university with a religious as well as an academic mission (this is, of course, not unusual: Western Universities largely began in the same way, except as Catholic universities, and there are still many universities around the world that have strong ties to various religions).

The connection to the church is visible every where on campus. There is a strong dress and conduct code and one oc Read the rest of this entry »


More on Aauthors and Aalphabetical placement

In an earlier post today, I discussed some of the economic implications of having a last name beginning early in the alphabet in disciplines that traditionally order the authors on multi-author papers alphabetically.

I’ve since looked up the original paper (Einav, Liran, and Leeat Yariv. 2006. “What’s in a Surname? The Effects of Surname Initials on Academic Success.” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 20 (1): 175–88). This is more startling than I thought.

First of all, from the authors’ own description:

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A is for Aardvark and author. The economic implications of having a last name with an early letter in the alphabet

In many disciplines, when more than one researcher contributes to a paper, the authors are listed in terms of the relative contribution: the first author is assumed to have done the most work, the second the second most, and so on until the last position, which is often as prestigious as first.

In other disciplines, however, the tradition is to order author names alphabetically.

This can be unfair to authors whose names come later in the alphabet, because citation conventions for multiple author contributions usually spell out the names of only the first two or three authors.

But it turns out it can also have career and financial implications. As Marusic, Bosnjak, et al. (see?) report:

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Academic Suicide

The so-called “college paper” has been a debated topic practically since its initial inception. A recent class statement brought the debate to the forefront of my mind. Professor O’Donnell stated, in a tone of bemusement, that his students tend to perform better on the blog assignments than on their actual papers. It does seem odd that a discrepancy exists between two writing exercises. However, the answer formed almost immediately within my thoughts and has expanded through the discussion of prescriptive rules versus descriptive. The reason students are so terrible at writing the “college paper” boils down to differences between prescriptive rules and descriptive rules. With that I commit myself to academic suicide by breaking the general guidelines and prescriptive rules of academic writing and adhering only to grammatical prescriptive rules and a more formal dialect to explain the phenomenon of why students are incapable of writing the traditional North American college Read the rest of this entry »


Class 2.0: Digital technology & digital rhetorics in the undergraduate classroom.

I just posted the slides for my lecture to the Department yesterday: Class 2.0: Digital technology & digital rhetorics in the undergraduate classroom.

Abstract: This lecture discusses some preliminary results from an ongoing research project on the use of digital technology and digital rhetorics in the undergraduate classroom. The goal of the project is to explore how these technologies and rhetorics can address common problems in the literature classroom: weak composition skills, lack of engagement, poor preparation. Initial, at this point still largely anecdotal, results suggest that the committed integration Web 2.0 technologies and rhetorics in the classroom can greatly improve outcomes in this area.

The lecture discusses how these techniques are used and some of the results we have seen.

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In a rich man’s world: Global DH?

The following map is from Melissa Terras’s infographic, Quantifying the Digital Humanities.

Physical Digital Humanities Centres

The map shows the distribution of physical centres in the Digital Humanities (as this is defined by members of ADHO communities) across the globe. As Domenico Fiormonte has argued, it can also serve as a proxy for other types of activity in the field, including, broadly speaking, the residency of members of ADHO affiliated Digital Humanities societies (see Fiormonte, fig. 1).But as Fiormonte also points out, the “blank” areas on Terras’s map can serve as an inverse proxy for other data. Linguistic diversity, for example, or Gross National Income as mapped by UNEP. Read the rest of this entry »


…Done dirt cheap? Impact vs. funding in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Lethbridge

Robert Sutherland, the chair of Neuroscience at the U of L, put me onto an interesting report yesterday, P. Jarvey and A. Usher, Measuring Academic Research in Canada: Field-Normalized University Rankings 2012 (Toronto: Higher Education Strategy Associates, 2012).

What this shows is that the University of Lethbridge is on the whole a middle-ranked institution when it comes to impact scores and funding success. Read the rest of this entry »


Shit humanists say: A response to “English Profs want to control the internet”

This is a response to “English Profs want to control the Internet”, by somebody who apparently doesn’t want their name front-and-centre. It is slightly modified from the comment I submitted, but since this is actual and it is in a moderation queue, I decided to post it here as well. I wouldn’t mind returning to the topic, to be honest.

I find the genre of this piece (“humanists say the darndest things”) about as tiring as the debate about tweeting conferences. It is pretty easy to make fun of ongoing conversations in any discipline you don’t normally follow, especially if, as others have pointed out, you don’t actually read the things you are linking to, let alone the broad context in which they are being written. Yesterday the Chronicle was reporting on scientists who peer review their own articles by creating fake email addresses and even entire identities. Yet I can resist the temptation to suggest that this must mean that all natural and medical sciences are one large circle jerk.

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On being lazy and ignorant: Job ads that restrict the pool of applicants on the basis of time from degree

The last few weeks have seen the appearance of controversial ads for entry level positions in Harvard’s Comparative Literature Department and the English Department at Colorado State (since revised).

The ads are controversial because they restrict the position to applicants who have had their PhD in hand for less than three years (two years or less in the case of Colorado State).

These conditions are particularly cruel because they seem to discriminate against students who completed their PhDs immediately before and in the first years of the 2008 depression–a period that has seen particular retrenchment in University budgets and hiring practices. Read the rest of this entry »


Going LoC(o) with Zotero: Scratching the inner librarian

Photo of my home office in 2005 (used for my Pseudo Society talk at Kalamazoo, “Using Computers to Improve Efficiency in Research and Teaching”)

I have always been a very messy person, especially in my work area. Here for example, is a not unrepresentative photo of my home office in 2005 (since one normally doesn’t take pictures of messy rooms, this is the only one I have: I took it to use as a slide in my 2005 Pseudo Society talk at the Kalamazoo Congress on Medieval Studies, “Using computers to improve efficiency in research and teaching”).

Perhaps oddly, however, this same messiness has never extended to my bibliography. Ever since I began university as an undergraduate in 1985, I have kept very careful bibliographic records. Read the rest of this entry »


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