Scholarly Communications Institute 2015

This is where I am right now. Really interesting time so far. I knew 3 people in real life, and several more (mostly via Twitter) before I arrived. Lots of smart folks here.

You can follow what we’re doing on Twitter using #Trianglesci.

Philosophers at large in the world

From the blog of fellow philosopher Keith Wayne Brown:


Cafe Terrace, Place du Forum, Arles by Vincent Van Gogh Cafe Terrace, Place du Forum, Arles by Vincent Van Gogh

…for the most part… philosophers aren’t deploying their firm grasp of Kierkegaard in their private-sector work. Rather, it’s the skills that philosophers are trained in—critical thinking, clear writing, quick learning—that translate well to life outside of academia. As Zachary Ernst, a software engineer at Narrative Science, puts it, “As a professional philosopher, if you haven’t gotten over-specialized and narrow, then you’ve got really good analytic and communication skills. So you’ve got the ability to learn quickly and efficiently. You’re also in the habit of being very critical of all sorts of ideas and approaches to a variety of problems. And if you’ve taught a lot, then you’re probably pretty comfortable with public speaking. Those skills are very rare in almost any workforce, and they’re extremely valuable.”

via What Do Philosophers Do? — The Atlantic.

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Altmetrics — the very cool dive bars of scientometrics

As a researcher, I love altmetrics in something resembling the way that, as a patron, I love dive bars.

There’s no such thing as a standard dive bar. As tempting as it might be to come up with a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for what counts as a dive bar — a long communal trough in the men’s room in place of delicate individual urinals separated by mini partitions, for instance — it’s impossible. Each is unique. And that’s a good thing.

Much the same can be said about altmetrics. Although I respect the motivation behind the current push among scientometricians to reflect on the state of their own art, I’m not wholly in favor of the move to standardize scientometrics. But altmetrics, thankfully, still provide a redoubt for those of us not able to identify too closely with specific academic fields (though there is also a conversation about standardizing altmetrics).

I recently published an article — co-authored with my colleague Adam Briggle — in the volume 1 issue 1 of the new Journal of Responsible Innovation. We argue that principles should play a limited role in decision making, because we humans too often substitute principles for judgment (thereby turning decision making into decision already made). Standards function in much the same way. Or, at least, we ought to be aware of that danger. But I don’t want to preach here. Instead, let me rave about how cool altmetrics are.

Here is the report on the article Briggle and I wrote. Keep in mind, this is the very first issue of the very first volume of a brand new journal; and already there’s an altmetric report. That’s so fast!

Most of the time, I find the ‘score’ tab to be informative. I also like to check out demographic info. It’s fun and cool. Kind of like frequenting a dive bar.

If I want something different — a profile of myself as a whole, rather than of an individual publication, say — I can go somewhere else. Here‘s my ImpactStory.

I haven’t done it yet; but I could really get in there and customize my profile. Note, too, that if I click on, say, ‘articles’, then an individual article, then on ‘tweets’, I’m transported to an report on that article.

The altmetrics community is like a neighborhood, and different altmetrics services are like different dive bars in that neighborhood. There’s something similar about all of them, yet there’s always something different about each of them. Plus, I get to choose where and when I go.

Altmetrics maximize my individual freedom.

Scientometrics that judge research fields don’t do that for me.

Ethics, Science, Technology, and Engineering: A Global Resource


Hard copies just arrived!

I suppose one year to the day counts as ‘soon‘ in the world of scholarly publishing.

Don’t say “Darwin” when you mean “evolution” (part 1)

Primate's Progress

Part I,Dalton and Darwin

Don’t say “Darwin” when you mean “evolution”. Don’t say “theory of evolution” when you mean the established historical facts of change over time and common descent. And above all, don’t say “Darwin’s theory of evolution” except in the historical context of the evolution of ideas. If you do, you are guilty of scientific, logical, historical, and pedagogical errors, and playing into the hands of our Creationist opponents.

Dalton is to the modern atomic theory, and the modern atomic theory is to chemistry, as Darwin(not to forget Wallace) is to evolution, and as evolution is to biology. But we don’t call our present perspective on atoms “Dalton’s theory”, and indeed, unless we are speaking historically, it sounds odd to even talk about “atomic theory” when we discuss atoms. So why should we refer to “Darwin’s theory”, and indeed why should we talk about the…

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NSF Gets an Earful about Replication

Interesting stuff here …. I wonder about possible connections with H.R. 4012 (


I spent last Thursday and Friday (February 20 and 21) at an NSF workshop concerning the replicability of research results. It was chaired by John Cacioppo and included about 30 participants including such well-known contributors to the discussion as Brian Nosek, Hal Pashler, Eric Eich, and Tony Greenwald, to name a few.  Participants also included officials from NIH, NSF, the White House Office on Science and Technology and at least one private foundation. I was invited, I presume, in my capacity as Past-President of SPSP and chair of an SPSP task force on research practices which recently published a report on non-retracted PSPB articles by investigators who retracted articles elsewhere, and a set of recommendations for research and educational practice, which was just published in PSPR.

Committees, task forces and workshops – whatever you call them – about replicability issues have become almost commonplace.  The SPSP Task Force was preceded…

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Inside Higher Ed | A call to embrace silos

An interview with Jerry A. Jacobs, a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania regarding his new book, In Defense of Disciplines: Interdisciplinarity and Specialization in the Research University (University of Chicago Press). The article also features a short reply by Robert Frodeman, professor of philosophy and founding director of the Center for the Study of Interdisciplinarity at the University of North Texas, and author of Sustainable Knowledge: A Theory of Interdisciplinarity (Macmillan), which critiques ‘disciplinarity’.

Knowledge kills action – Why principles should play a limited role in policy making

This essay argues that principles should play a limited role in policy making. It first illustrates the dilemma of timely action in the face of uncertain unintended consequences. It then introduces the precautionary and proactionary principles as different alignments of knowledge and action within the policymaking process. The essay next considers a cynical and a hopeful reading of the role of these principles in public policy debates. We argue that the two principles, despite initial appearances, are not all that different when it comes to formulating public policy. We also suggest that allowing principles to determine our actions undermines the sense of autonomy necessary for true action.

@adambriggle on fracking

Apologies for never posting any more. I’m not doing much other than finishing ESTE2 — which really is coming soon!

What’s productive enough for tenure?

Although I do think it’s got something to do with being a snowflake (, I also see some food for thought and wisdom in this post (which I found on Twitter courtesy of @egonwillighagen).

imageA lot hand wringing on the tenure track (and the job hunt) is about publication number and venue. I don’t think I have much more to say on venue (other than I do get the sense that perceptions might be starting to shift), but number is interesting. My operating assumption here is, with apologies to Dobzhansky, Nothing in academic careerism makes sense except in light of local tribal norms. This is why all attempts to have standard metrics (alt* or otherwise) are doomed and ridiculous. The relevant tribes here are your field, department, and university. Look at these tribes, because Twitter and blogs don’t have these answers, and you will go crazy trying to parse and apply the various norms of other tribes in your own context.

I was thinking of this because recently Potnia Theron (who is on a tear of incredibly useful blogging) blogged about someone who was…

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