Monday, July 17, 2017

How I Created an Edited Volume in Record Time: Less Than Two Years from Idea to Print

Tanya Golash-Bozer
by Tanya Golash-Bozer, Get a Life, PhD: http://getalifephd.blogspot.com.au/2017/07/how-i-created-edited-volume-in-record.html

Many academics will tell you to steer away from creating an edited volume. Yet, judging by academic catalogs, clearly, some academics continue to create edited books. Why would any academic pull together an edited volume?

The reason is that there are some cases when creating an edited volume makes sense. I recently edited a volume for Oxford University Press and I will explain in this post why I did it, how I did it, and why I am extremely gratified to have edited this book.

I decided to create Forced Out and Fenced In: Immigration Tales From the Field because I had an abundance of rich stories from my research with deportees that I wanted to share. I thought about writing a popular book that highlighted deportees’ stories, but I did not think that I had enough stories to fill a book. Moreover, I had just published a book based on deportees’ stories and did not want to try and spin another book out of that research. I did, however, want to reach a broad readership with the stories.

As I thought about how to get these stories out to a broader audience, I asked myself if other researchers might also have stories that needed to be told. It turns out they did! When I reached out to my colleagues, I received an enthusiastic response both regarding the desire to tell these stories and to hear the stories of others affected by immigration law enforcement.

In this case, it made sense to edit a volume as opposed to writing a monograph because I wanted to highlight a broad range of stories of people affected by immigration law enforcement, and I wanted a combination of historical and contemporary stories. This kind of project requires a team.

It is also critical that the team was excited. This book gave the contributors an opportunity to share parts of their research that may not fit into a typical academic article or even a monograph. Forced Out and Fenced In highlights people’s stories. The argument and historical context form the backdrop. The contributors were excited about the opportunity to try a different kind of academic writing.

This enthusiasm then translated into what might be the most seamless production of an edited volume in the history of book publishing. Forced Out and Fenced In: Immigration Tales From the Field was created in what must be record time due to the enthusiasm of the contributors and the extraordinary efforts of the team at Oxford.

This volume took only a year to put together—practically lightning speed in academic publishing. In early September 2015, I sent a note to Oxford University Press editor Sherith Pankratz to ask if she might be interested in an edited book on immigration enforcement. She said she was. In mid-September, I sent a query out to twenty-five scholars. By mid-October, twenty-one of them responded and said they were willing to contribute essays. The other four politely declined. I wrote a full proposal and sent it to Sherith, along with a sample contribution. She got back to me with reviews in mid-December 2015. By January 2016, we signed a contract.

I then reached out to the contributors and asked them to send me their contributions by mid-March. If you have ever worked with academic authors, you will find the next sentence surprising. All of them sent in their chapter drafts on time. We sent the full manuscript out for review, asked the authors for revisions, and they consistently met every single deadline multiple times. This is practically unheard of in academia. By mid-October 2016, every single author had sent me the final version of their chapters and we were able to get this book into production by the end of November 2016.

The book was released in June 2017 – less than two years from idea to publication—which must break all kinds of records for edited volumes in academia. I was fortunate to have secured contributors who are not only at the top of the field, but are also timely and responsive.

In case you are curious, the Table of Contents is below. If you are in the humanities or social sciences, you will see that I was able to recruit an amazing group of folks!




Foreword - Roberto Lovato
Introduction: Forced Out and Fenced In - Tanya Golash-Boza

Part I: Migration Histories: How Did We Get Here?
1. Wong Foon Chuck: Making Home in the Borderlands between China, the United States, and Mexico - Elliott Young
2. Lost in Translation - Mae M. Ngai
3. Rebel, Deportee, Governor: The Life of Antonio I. Villarreal - Kelly Lytle Hernández
4. Mexican Migrants, Family Separation, and US Immigration Policy since 1942 - Adam Goodman
Part II: Families Torn Apart: How Do Deportation Laws Affect Families?
5. Becoming American - Lisa M. Martinez
6. ’Til Law Do Us Part: Immigration Policy and Mixed-Status Family Separation - Ruth Gomberg-Muñoz
7. Double Jeopardy: Deportation and the Life-Course Rituals of Twin Sisters - Kara Cebulko
Part III: Living Without Papers: How Do Undocumented People Navigate the Challenges They Face?
8. The Law Doesn’t Care About Love: Intimate Relationships in Cities with Restrictive Immigration Laws - Angela S. García
9. “It’s a Strange Condition”: Being in College Under a Cloud of Uncertainty - John S. W. Park
10. How Will I Get My Skull Back? The Embodied Consequences of Immigrant Policing - Nolan Kline
Part IV: Seeking Refuge: What Does It Take to Get Asylum in the United States?
11. “Is This America?”: Asylum-Seeking in an Era of Humanitarian Decline - Sarah M. Lakhani
12. When American Dreams Are Shattered - Tanya Golash-Boza
13. The Power of Law: How Immigration Policy Shapes Salvadorans’ Experience of Family and Motherhood - Maya Pagni Barak
Part V: Gendered Exclusions: How Are Deportation Experiences Gendered?
14. Gendered Exclusion: Three Generations of Women Deported to the Dominican Republic - Yolanda C. Martin
15. Caging Paloma: Illegality and Violence Along the United States–Mexico Border - Heidy Sarabia
16. The Ripple Effects of US Immigration Enforcement: A Young Mexican Deportee’s Story of Isolation, Precarity, and Resilience - Christine Wheatley
Part VI: Deporting DREAMers: How Do “American” Youth Navigate Their Lives in Mexico after Deportation?
17. I Used to Believe in Justice - Juan Carlos Guevara, Angela Stuesse, and Mathew Coleman
18. No Place Like Home: From High School Graduation to Deportation - Alexis M. Silver
19. Call Centers, Transnational Mobility, and (Neoliberal) Citizenship - Jill Anderson
Part VII: Returning “Home”: What Happens to Migrants Who Return to the United States After Being Deported?
20. No hay otro: An Ecuadorian Tale of Repeated US Immigration - Nancy Hiemstra
21. Barred Por Vida: María Inez’s Battle to Find Health and Well-Being - San Juanita García
22. Sergio Rodriguez’s Dream Deferred: Illegality, Deportation, and the Long-Term Impacts of Lives in Limbo - Roberto G. Gonzales
Epilogue

Brain Fitness: Why You’re Losing Out if You’re not Learning Another Language


commons.wikimedia.org
Most people in the world speak more than one language, suggesting the human brain evolved to work in multiple tongues. If so, asks Gaia Vince, are those who speak only one language missing out?

Listen to or download an audiobook of this story on SoundCloud and iTunes.
In a café in south London, two construction workers are engaged in cheerful banter, tossing words back and forth. Their cutlery dances during more emphatic gesticulations and they occasionally break off into loud guffaws. They are discussing a woman, that much is clear, but the details are lost on me. It’s a shame, because their conversation looks fun and interesting, especially to a nosy person like me. But I don’t speak their language.
Out of curiosity, I interrupt them to ask what they are speaking. With friendly smiles, they both switch easily to English, explaining that they are South Africans and had been speaking Xhosa. In Johannesburg, where they are from, most people speak at least five languages, says one of them, Theo Morris. For example, Theo’s mother’s language is Sotho, his father’s is Zulu, he learned Xhosa and Ndebele from his friends and neighbours, and English and Afrikaans at school. “I went to Germany before I came here, so I also speak German,” he adds.
Was it easy to learn so many languages?
“Yes, it’s normal,” he laughs.
He’s right. Around the world, more than half of people – estimates vary from 60 to 75 per cent – speak at least two languages. Many countries have more than one official national language – South Africa has 11. People are increasingly expected to speak, read and write at least one of a handful of “super” languages, such as English, Chinese, Hindi, Spanish or Arabic, as well. So to be monolingual, as many native English speakers are, is to be in the minority, and perhaps to be missing out.
Multilingualism has been shown to have many social, psychological and lifestyle advantages. Moreover, researchers are finding a swathe of health benefits from speaking more than one language, including faster stroke recovery and delayed onset of dementia.
Could it be that the human brain evolved to be multilingual – that those who speak only one language are not exploiting their full potential? And in a world that is losing languages faster than ever – at the current rate of one a fortnight, half our languages will be extinct by the end of the century – what will happen if the current rich diversity of languages disappears and most of us end up speaking only one?
I am sitting in a laboratory, headphones on, looking at pictures of snowflakes on a computer. As each pair of snowflakes appears, I hear a description of one of them through the headphones. All I have to do is decide which snowflake is being described. The only catch is that the descriptions are in a completely invented language called Syntaflake.
It’s part of an experiment by Panos Athanasopoulos, an ebullient Greek with a passion for languages. Professor of psycholinguistics and bilingual cognition at Lancaster University, he’s at the forefront of a new wave of research into the bilingual mind. As you might expect, his lab is a Babel of different nationalities and languages – but no one here grew up speaking Syntaflake.
The task is profoundly strange and incredibly difficult. Usually, when interacting in a foreign language, there are clues to help you decipher the meaning. The speaker might point to the snowflake as they speak, use their hands to demonstrate shapes or their fingers to count out numbers, for example. Here I have no such clues and, it being a made-up language, I can’t even rely on picking up similarities to languages I already know.
After a time, though, I begin to feel a pattern might be emerging with the syntax and sounds. I decide to be mathematical about it and get out pen and paper to plot any rules that emerge, determined not to “fail” the test.

© Nadine Redlich
The experience reminds me of a time I arrived in a rural town a few hours outside Beijing and was forced to make myself understood in a language I could neither speak nor read, among people for whom English was similarly alien. But even then, there had been clues… Now, without any accompanying human interaction, the rules governing the sounds I’m hearing remain elusive, and at the end of the session I have to admit defeat.
I join Athanasopoulos for a chat while my performance is being analysed by his team.
Glumly, I recount my difficulties at learning the language, despite my best efforts. But it appears that was where I went wrong: “The people who perform best on this task are the ones who don’t care at all about the task and just want to get it over as soon as possible. Students and teaching staff who try to work it out and find a pattern always do worst,” he says.
“It’s impossible in the time given to decipher the rules of the language and make sense of what’s being said to you. But your brain is primed to work it out subconsciously. That’s why, if you don’t think about it, you’ll do okay in the test – children do the best.”
The first words ever uttered may have been as far back as 250,000 years ago, once our ancestors stood up on two legs and freed the ribcage from weight-bearing tasks, allowing fine nerve control of breathing and pitch to develop. And when humans had got one language, it wouldn’t have been long before we had many.
Language evolution can be compared to biological evolution, but whereas genetic change is driven by environmental pressures, languages change and develop through social pressures. Over time, different groups of early humans would have found themselves speaking different languages. Then, in order to communicate with other groups – for trade, travel and so on – it would have been necessary for some members of a family or band to speak other tongues.
We can get some sense of how prevalent multilingualism may have been from the few hunter-gatherer peoples who survive today. “If you look at modern hunter-gatherers, they are almost all multilingual,” says Thomas Bak, a cognitive neurologist who studies the science of languages at the University of Edinburgh. “The rule is that one mustn’t marry anyone in the same tribe or clan to have a child – it’s taboo. So every single child’s mum and dad speak a different language.”
In Aboriginal Australia, where more than 130 indigenous languages are still spoken, multilingualism is part of the landscape. “You will be walking and talking with someone, and then you might cross a small river and suddenly your companion will switch to another language,” says Bak. “People speak the language of the earth.” This is true elsewhere, too. “Consider in Belgium: you take a train in Liège, the announcements are in French first. Then, pass through Loewen, where the announcements will be in Dutch first, and then in Brussels it reverts back to French first.”

Friday, July 14, 2017

I am Rebecca Gelding and This is How I Work

by Eva Lantsoght, PhD Talk: http://phdtalk.blogspot.com.au/2017/07/i-am-rebecca-gelding-and-this-is-how-i.html

Today, I am interviewing Rebecca Gelding for the "How I Work" series. Rebecca is a PhD student investigating music cognition, specifically what is going on in the brain as people imagine music. She began part time in Feb 2013, as she was also looking after her 2 small children. Said children are both now at school this year (hooray) and so she's changed to full time. 

Prior to starting a family, she worked in the finance industry, but realised when she had kids that life is short: spend it doing something you are passionate about. She told me: "I've has always loved maths, music and the brain and now I get paid to discover and write about it every day, whilst still enjoying being a mother. Best of both worlds." 

Current Job: PhD Student in Cognitive Science. Aiming to submit mid-2018.
Current Location: Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.
Current mobile device: Samsung Galaxy S7
Current computer: Acer Aspire V5-431

Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?

I’m just over half way through my PhD which investigates what is going on in the brain as people image music; specifically imagining pitch and rhythm. To do this I use a technology called magnetoencephalography (MEG) which measures changes in magnetic flux from the outside of people’s heads. From this we can get an understanding of what brain regions are doing while imagining music compared to listening to music. It’s compelling research because while the experience of imagining music is universal, there is still a lot we don’t yet understand in the dynamics of our brains as we imagine. 

What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?

I use Word and Endnote for writing, and a variety of software packages for analysing and presenting data (BESA Research, MATLAB, R)

What does your workspace setup look like? 


This year I’ve begun some new routines to try to develop writing as a habit, and I have three workspaces. Each morning when I arrive on campus around 9:20am after school drop-off, I will order a coffee from the brilliant coffee shop at the bottom of my building, and get out my laptop. While I savour that coffee, I’ll use my phone timer to do one pomodoro (25mins) session of nothing but writing. 

Then I’ll head upstairs to my university desk and try to either do a few more pomodoros while I’m on a roll, or attend to whatever other work I need to do. I have a computer on campus which I will sometimes use, but for portability, most of my writing is done on my laptop. 

I leave campus at 2:25pm to pick up the kids, and spend the next few hours with them, doing normal afternoon / dinner routines. Once they are off to sleep around 8pm, I’ll head to my home office (AKA desk in the corner of the lounge room) for a couple more hours of work. As it’s the end of the day I normally don’t do anything that is mentally taxing, but try to allocate tasks that are necessary but easy to these evening timeslots. 

When need be I’ll use the analysis computers at university as well, but most of my work is on my laptop (and backed up on portable hard drives).

Rebecca's desk at home

Rebecca's desk at university

Rebecca's work setup at her favorite cafe

What is your best advice for productive academic work?


Work out how you work best. One of the biggest benefits of academia is flexibility. Use that to your advantage, to discover exactly when you are at your most alert, then organise your day around those times. Over Christmas last year I read “Rest” by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang and he discusses of a whole bunch of ways in which to increase productivity without working longer hours. Unsurprisingly prioritising rest was one of them. 

How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?

I love the idea of a bullet journal but I’m not disciplined enough to keep at it. I generally have an everything notebook that I keep in my compendium and take everywhere. For every major project on at a given time I’ll list the tasks that need to be done on each one. At the start of the year I did a term by term break down of the goals I wanted to achieve, and a weekly plan for this term. Each Sunday night I try to have a look at that to see how I’m tracking (eek…. I’m already behind due to unforeseen set-backs….) and to map out a rough guide for what I want to achieve in the coming week. I try to spend the bus ride on the way to university reviewing and planning for that day as well. 

Besides phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life?

Not really.

Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?


I’ve inherited an optimistic outlook on life, which will usually see me putting my hand up for opportunities thinking, “what have I got to lose?” While an attitude might not technically qualify as a skill, in academia where rejection and setbacks are part of the landscape, it takes skill to maintain a positive attitude! During the PhD candidature, there are plenty of chances to do things outside of the direct “thesis” work. I’ve tried to make the most of these chances (eg three minute thesis competition, science communication outreach, writing for various outlets, teaching, blogging, etc). Some of these things have a snowball effect and bring more opportunities, but I think it has all stemmed from my optimism. 

What do you listen to when you work?

I love the environmental noises of the coffee shop, or a noisy storm outside, but I can’t stand any music on when I’m trying to work – I just get too distracted, probably because I’ll want to sing along. Can’t have the TV on either when I’m working at home. I prefer to work in silence. 

What are you currently reading? How do you find time for reading?

I’ve just started Steven Pinker’s “A Sense of Style” and I love it. I’m making a conscious effort to improve my writing. After all, if I’m going to be an academic, then I need to get a handle how to write. An obvious way to get better at writing is to read good writing! Funnily enough, now that I am full time I find I have more time for reading, as I’ll allow myself time on the weekend or some nights before bed to read for pleasure. 

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert? How does this influence your working habits?


I find being around other people energising, so I’d say extrovert. I love making it to the department morning tea each Wednesday, and would sit and socialise through a whole hour of lunch if I could. But with such short hours on campus each day, I have to restrict myself and get back to work. It also means that the days I spend working from home are super lonely for me – even if it’s just 6 hours. 

What's your sleep routine like?


I’d love to be in bed by 10pm, but usually its more like 11pm. As part of my new year routine I set the alarm for 6am and get out first thing for a half hour run each week day morning. (Having said that I don’t think I’ve managed any week with 5/5 runs, but the intention is there!) I generally try to get at least 7 hours sleep. On the weekends I’ll get a bit more as my husband and I take it in turns for a sleep in (which is ~8am), while the other one gets up to make breakfast for the kids. 

What's your work routine like?


In addition to the routine I mentioned with the workspaces, once a week I’ll work from home for the day. That usually involves planning a series of chores that need to be done and allocating them 15 min slots during a break time. (ie writing for 45 mins, mop kitchen for 15 mins, writing for 45 mins, hang out washing & put another load on). It's efficient, but quite tiring. 

The main difference I’ve found from going part time to full time, is that now I have more time to work, I need to make sure I keep working smart so I don’t burn myself out. I allocate my hardest tasks (normally writing) for the first thing in the morning, and then between morning tea and lunch I’ll do something that requires attention to detail but not as hard. After lunch I’ll generally do administration tasks and other stuff that has to be done. Sometimes I find when I come to sit down in the evenings I’ve come up with a solution to a problem earlier in the day purely because I’ve had time to think (usually unconsciously) as I’ve been doing other things in the afternoon with my family. I am more tired as a full timer than a part timer though, so I’m making sure I spend quality time resting on the weekends, to be fresh for a new week.

What's the best advice you ever received?

The best academic advice I have ever read came from twitter:

“We are all smart. Distinguish yourself by being kind”. Anne Galloway was quoting Prof Charles Gordon, then Head of Department, Sociology & Anthropology, Carleton University.

Horsing Around With Young Children Makes Them Laugh and Helps Them Learn


File 20170706 26461 l750vl
Carnival time. Shutterstock
Laura Tallant, Bath Spa University


A good sense of humour is a highly valued personality trait. We like to laugh and for others to laugh with (not usually at) us. Yet while children say and do the funniest things, in the academic field of early childhood education and care (ECEC), not everyone is smiling.

Some of the most dominant theories appear to set humour and laughter as the direct opposites of seriousness and rationality. But this strict division can blind us to the vital role of humour in how we teach and look after our children.

A fresh perspective can be found, perhaps surprisingly, in the work of the 20th-century Russian philosopher, Mikhail Bakhtin. He developed a characterisation of humour and laughter from his focus on their role in medieval carnivals – the theory of “carnivalesque”. And it is a theory with some useful insights for young children’s education.

The “folk humour” associated with his theory is made up of three main concepts: carnival, laughter and the grotesque. From medieval times to today’s famous parades in Notting Hill and Rio de Janeiro, carnivals are spaces in which the world can be turned on its head – where anything goes and the rules of everyday life do not apply.

They also celebrate laughter and grotesque imagery relating to the area of the human anatomy Bakhtin calls “the lower bodily stratum”. It certainly fits well with young children’s delight in all things scatological.

There are well-established links between children’s humour and developing social skills. And new research suggests that looking at things through a “carnivalesque lens” can provide space for children to explore ideas that may be repressed in the official sphere of nursery life.

To grasp a sense of children’s developing social awareness, adults need to remember that children use humour in a variety of social situations. This could be exploring the place of power in relationships, or experimenting with social conventions.

For children to learn about (and liberate themselves from) rules, boundaries and restrictions, they need the freedom to play with these abstract concepts. Adults can support children by recognising children’s need to play in this way, and by providing a supportive, safe environment within which it can happen.


Spread your silly wings. Shutterstock

As part of this, adults can – with subtlety, sensitivity and an acute sense of timing – become part of a child’s “carnival” view of the world. Humour can be injected into daily routines to have a positive effect on children’s (and adults’) moods. Positive emotional states are not only valuable, but also have the potential to inspire creative thinking, feed children’s curiosity, and nourish their motivation to learn.

Funny business

Horsing around comes with its own challenges of course. Whether its pulling faces, blowing raspberries, or just falling over, bringing the carnival into nursery life is no easy task. Embracing these tendencies means helping children feel empowered by the fallibility of adults.

Some adults may feel they risk losing children’s respect by acting in this way. There may be a sense of anxiety and fear that even a momentary shift of power could result in a loss of control.

But it is vital for adults to seek ways of overcoming any such feelings. Being exposed to humour that promotes adult self-effacement means children can explore power relations and their sense of self.

It is possible that, in addition to the popular view of humour as trivial, its association with children being “silly” and behaving inappropriately has afforded it a reputation as pedagogically insignificant.

This is perhaps most evident amongst ECEC policy makers in England and some of the professionals working in ECEC. Perhaps if more adults were aware of the reasons why children enjoy engaging in behaviour that challenges social conventions such as toilet humour, it may become accepted as something more than just a “phase” they go through.

As American educationalist Tim Lensmire suggests, there are serious downsides to ignoring children’s carnivalesque behaviour. We risk, he says, “undermining the sort of joyful, playful relation to the world and each other that would actually allow us to look fearlessly at the world and tell the truth about it”.

The ConversationAnd that is no laughing matter.

Laura Tallant, Senior Lecturer in Education (Early Childhood Education), Bath Spa University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Academic Journal Publishing: How to Respond to Reviewers

Just like there are many styles to writing scientific manuscripts, there are also many ways to respond to a set of criticisms and suggestions from reviewers. Likewise, many people and organisations have compiled lists of what to do, and what not to do, in a response to reviews of your manuscript (just type ‘response to reviewer comments’ or similar phrase into your favourite search engine and behold the reams of available advice).
what
It clearly is a personal choice, but from my own experience as an author, reviewer, editor, and the myriad suggestions available online, there are a few golden rules about how to respond:
  • After you have calmed down a little, it is essential that you remain polite throughout the process. Irrespective of how stupid, unfair, mean-spirited, or just plain lazy the reviewers might appear to you, do not stoop to their level and fire back with defensive, snarky comments. Neither must you ever blame the editor for even the worst types of reviews, because you will do yourself no favours at all by offending the main person who will decide your manuscript’s fate.
  • If the decision requires substantive changes, then it is often a good idea to summarise in a paragraph or two (or using point form) the major ways you have listened to your reviewersand improved your manuscript. You can place this brief summary just before your point-by-point responses, or in a separate ‘letter’ to the editor as per specific journal guidelines.
  • Make the editor’s job as easy as possible. By this I mean that you should address each reviewer’s critique or suggestion in order, whether that be the order in which you received them, or in grouped thematically if several reviewers highlight the same issues. I recommend copying the entire set of comments into a separate document, and then culling them to their bare-bones, basic message; there is no need to repeat every single word the reviewers wrote. After the cull, address each point immediately after it appears, differentiating the reviewer’s comment and your response by font (e.g., italicised comments, normal-font response), colour (but this not recommended for colour-blind scientists like me), or by a leading ‘RESPONSE:’ or something similar in each response. As an editor, I want to be able to understand the essence of the reviewer’s issue at a glance, and then concentrate on your concise, yet comprehensive response to it.
  • Unless the reviewers recommend only superficial or minor changes, do not automatically do everything they suggest needs to be done. Reviewers are not omniscient, so they will often suggest inappropriate things, or request unreasonable new analyses or experiments. If you can defend your approach, or clearly identify why a particular suggestion is unwarranted, then by all means, do so. However, do not use this advice as an excuse to be lazy; if you cannot honestly demonstrate why the reviewer’s suggestion is inferior or unsupported, then just follow the recommendation.
  • For every remaining critique or suggestion, demonstrate to the editor that you have changed at least something in the manuscript, and identify where the change now resides (either by new line numbers or some other navigational pointer). If you are required to rephrase important parts of the text, you can simply copy the revised sentence, paragraph, or (brief) section into the response letter to show the editor what a well-behaved and conscientious scientist you are. On the other hand, if a particular comment requires little change (e.g., adding a reference, re-wording a sentence, changing terminology, et cetera), you can probably get away with something like ‘we have now made this change’, or even ‘done’.
  • There are no page limits on response letters, so feel free to add as much detail as is necessary without fatiguing the editor. It is a balancing act to be sure — insufficient detail or failing to respond to a particular concern will result in either another round of reviews or an outright rejection, whereas too much verbiage can bore the editor and distract her from the important business of accepting your manuscript. It is not that rare to have response letters that exceed the length of the manuscript itself, especially for the magazine-style, high-impact journals.
  • This advice differs from that of others, but as an editor I am not typically overjoyed by reading copious ‘thank you’ statements or gratuitous repetition of the reviewer’s compliments to the authors. Instead, stick to addressing the main critiques and do not ingratiate yourself.
In summary, the overall impression that the editors and reviewers must have after reading your revision and response letter is that you have taken their advice seriously and made a substantial effort to accommodate their expert suggestions into the revised version. If they experience any other emotion than this, chances are that your manuscript will be rejected.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

How to Help Kids Navigate Fake News and Misinformation Online

by Joanne OrlandoWestern Sydney UniversityThe Conversation: http://theconversation.com/how-to-help-kids-navigate-fake-news-and-misinformation-online-79342
File 20170623 27922 1pfhfwb
Research has shown kids can be duped by native advertising. Syda Productions/Shutterstock

Young people get a huge amount of their news from social media feeds, where false, exaggerated or sponsored content is often prevalent. With the right tools, caregivers can give kids the knowledge they need to assess credible information for themselves.

Being able to identify the trustworthiness of information is an important concern for everyone. Yet the sheer volume of material online and the speed at which it travels has made this an increasingly challenging task. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook provide a loudspeaker to anyone who can attract followers, no matter what their message or content.

Fake news has the power to normalise prejudices, to dictate us-versus-them mentalities and even, in extreme cases, to justify and encourage violence.

We have become obsessed with getting kids off their devices at the expense of developing their understanding of the online world. This is not about surveillance, but rather about having open conversations that empower children to understand and assess the usefulness of information for themselves.

Fake news is tricking children

Young people are growing up in a world where distributing large volumes of misinformation online has become a subtle yet powerful art.

It’s no surprise then that research published in 2016 by Stanford University suggests kids “may focus more on the content of social media posts than on their sources”.

For example, of 203 middle school students surveyed as part of the report, more than 80% thought a native ad on the news website Slate labelled “sponsored content” was a real news story. A majority of high school students questioned by the researchers didn’t recognise and explain the significance of the blue checkmark on a verified Fox News Facebook account.

With the amount of content we see in a busy day, it’s possible that these subtleties are being lost on many adults as well.

Minimising the harm of fake news for kids

Helping young people navigate online spaces requires better skills in verifying what is true and what isn’t. Here are five questions to start the conversation with children.

Find an online post that you consider to be fake news and talk with the child about it. Shape your conversation around these questions:
  • Who made this post?
  • Who do they want to view it?
  • Who benefits from this post and/or who might be harmed by it?
  • Has any information been left out of the post that might be important?
  • Is a reliable source (like a mainstream news outlet) reporting the same news? If they’re not, it doesn’t mean it’s not true, but it does mean you should dig deeper.
Kids are not always able to identify verified accounts on Facebook. JaysonPhotography/Shutterstock

Clues for children to use

Detecting fake news can be like a “spot the difference” game. These questions are clues for kids that a source may be dodgy:
  • Is the URL or site name unusual? For example, those with a “.co” are often trying to masquerade as real news sites.
  • Is the post low-quality, possibly containing bold claims with no sources and lots of spelling or grammatical errors?
  • Does the post use sensationalist imagery? Women in sexy clothing are popular clickbait for unreliable content.
  • Are you shocked, angry or overjoyed by the post? Fake news often strives to provoke a reaction, and if you’re having an intense emotional response then it could be a clue the report isn’t balanced or accurate.
  • How is the story structured and what kind of proof does it offer? If it merely repeats accusations against the people involved in an incident without further reporting, for example, there’s probably a better version of the story out there from a more reliable news source.

Get to know the rules

Many social media sites are now also cracking down on the spread of fake news. Showing kids the restrictions these sites are imposing on their users will help them get a rounded understanding of the problem.

For example, asking kids to read the rules by which Reddit will remove content from r/news is a good starting point. Facebook also offers “Tips to Spot False News”, suggesting readers check that other sources are reporting similar facts and that they look out for weird formatting, among other hints.

Growing up in a world of fake news doesn’t have to be a heavy burden for kids. Rather, it requires extra support from adults to help them understand and navigate the digital world.

The ConversationOur goal should be not only to help children survive this complicated online world, but to equip them with the knowledge they need to flourish in it.

Joanne Orlando, Researcher: Technology and Learning, Western Sydney University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Truth Be Told (About Research and Academic Careers)

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It’s safe to say that the funding and employment prospects for researchers in Australia are poor.
When I first drafted this piece, I wanted to say that the prospects were ‘challenging’, then realised that this is the way we have come to talk about—and cloak—the many stark inequities in our system. The circumstances are not challenging in the sense of being a series of personal adversities that must be overcome.
The perfect storm of scarce career pathways, highly metricised researcher valuation, and diminishing funds for research mean that early career researchers work in an area that is broken in many ways. There are options—good, bad, and often precarious. The challenges are systemic and institutional, with pressure brought to bear on the individual as a consequence.
This is not new knowledge—many have written about this situation and its consequences for our national research workforce. With few career pathways, many are leaving the country, or research, and Australia’s research capacity will diminish. The personal costs of investing in, then having to leave, academia can be very significant, materially and emotionally.

The truth

What I want to focus on here is why we still lie about many of these aspects to early career researchers and PhD researchers. Maybe lie is too strong a word? Perhaps it’s a case of not telling the whole truth.
I recently chaired a panel that talked about the early career researcher’s career context and Australia’s research terrain. What came from the speakers and through the ensuing discussions was the harshness of the choices many researchers face when they’re trying to establish their independent academic track records, publishing, gaining funding, and finding job security.
Being able to share tales of the contradictory, unsustainable, and overly bureaucratised aspects of being a contemporary early career researcher also means being able to give voice to strategies for negotiating these issues. The combination of openly shared peer experiences from across institutions, and insight from more senior academics who were willing to take on thorny, negative topics, was strangely exciting. The vibe was energetic and engaged.

The whole truth

What this demonstrated to me yet again was the pointlessness of putting up a veneer about the state of the academic careers. There are many well-meaning but ultimately wrong-headed assurances given to early career researchers explaining that the situation’s not great but that they’ll be OK.
Avoiding discussion around these issues because you don’t want to depress your colleagues is doing them a disservice. Early career researchers are subject to high performance pressures while they’re undertaking the significant work of establishing their research publication and funding pipelines.

Nothing but the truth

While no one needs to hear endless tales of woe for the sake of it, being able to speak honestly about the stresses and prospects of academic life, and the ways that one might negotiate or agitate against aspects of it, are increasingly necessary. This is even more the case if our research and institutional leaders fail to do so.
One major example of the avoidance of honest talk in academia is the unfortunately very common instance of fixed-term or sessional staff not having clarity around their status when their contract is up.
Academics can think they are doing their contract colleagues a favour by keeping happy faces on about their prospects of future employment with the school or department. They are not. If there is no work, find a compassionate way to tell your colleague there is no work, or discuss possible other avenues for them if the work doesn’t come through. Having been a fixed-term researcher for much of my academic career, there was nothing worse than people telling me there’ll be something lined up for me, then nothing materialising. Don’t give false assurances. They help no one.

Three ways to start making things better

Here are three things that I think are most useful for early career researchers in our current climate:
1. Honest reasons why things haven’t happened
Why did an internal grant application fail? Why didn’t they get that role? What happened to the contract extension? Fobbing disappointed people off is what usually happens, but what is more useful is for colleagues to let the researcher in question know what went wrong. It could be something they need to improve, or it could just be the vagaries of the system. Whatever it is, it’s always better to know than not.
2. Finding and creating non-institutional ways to gather
While institutions want to keep their fabulous researchers, they also have their own priorities (and the same is true down to the level of heads of schools or research directors). These priorities may run counter to a researcher’s best interests. It’s extremely valuable to find a relatively neutral space where scholars can feel safe voicing their concerns and receiving advice that’s not tempered by the priorities of key performance indicators for senior personnel or their organisation. Scholarly associations and societies have a big part to play in this.
3. Getting together to establish an institutional voice
Early career researchers’ forums can take various forms and operate at varying levels of institutional endorsement and resourcing. Networking is excellent for internal peer-to-peer connections, which are so important and often overlooked in the rush for external collaborations and partnerships. It can only be a good thing to have a group that can represent early career researchers’ concerns and advocate for changes at higher levels within the university.
So, the truth about academic employment and research funding may be hard and unpleasant to hear but the situation is what it is—for now. The more informed, and activated, early career researchers are by what they’re dealing with, and where potential change can happen, the better it is for them and for academia.
Honest conversations about what is happening, and what can’t happen, need to occur across all levels: among peers, within faculties and colleges, with senior research executives, and in national higher education debates.
Let’s not pretend that things will work out for the best, when we know that things in Australian research have only worsened over recent years.
Can we work together to improve the situation? Of course, we can. But not until we can tell the truth about it among ourselves and within our institutions.