Elizabeth Lorbeer
Elizabeth Lorbeer
Library Director, Western Michigan University School of Medicine
Source: Anthia Cumming/iStockphoto
Source: Anthia Cumming/iStockphoto

All schools of higher education struggle to keep their costs of attendance as competitive and reasonable as possible. One of the longest, most debated arguments on campus amongst learners and educators is the cost of required textbooks. The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), a U.S. federal law, contains a textbook provision that requires publishers and campus bookstores to disclose pricing and revision information, and for schools to declare their textbook list prior to registration. Having this information available allows the learner to decide and budget, prior to the first day of class, the cost involved to take the course. The HEAO textbook provision has also provided the opportunity for learners to price compare amongst the brick-and-mortar and online bookstores to buy material at the lowest cost.   With competitive pricing, many online digital textbook providers offer the option to rent an e-textbook or buy per chapter from their website.   A recent survey showed that when the electronic textbook price was discounted more than the print price, students were more willing to select the digital option as a way to save money.

But do students buy and use electronic textbooks? Instructors know when students are offered the option to purchase, most will not. The NACS OnCampus Research survey reported that learners forego purchasing required textbooks if they perceived the material to be unnecessary.   With help from instructional designers, instructors can gain strategy on how to engage students in the digital realm by selecting e-textbooks with customizable widgets and shared annotation features.   More and more faculty embrace the advantages that digital media provides by highlighting and annotating required readings and sharing notes within the textbook, all as a means of fostering collaborative learning.(Editor’s note: WileyPLUS offers this functionality, among other features, for e-textbooks) In the U.S. PIRG report, students reported they were more willing to purchase or rent their textbooks when instructors incorporated required course materials. Many digital textbook platforms also offer study tools such as test banks, flashcards, and interactive multimedia to enhance independent learning.

As schools struggle with the cost of their textbook programs, many are introducing e-textbooks as an affordable option. Students who could not afford to purchase their required textbooks almost unanimously reported they suffered academically because of this choice.   Since 2007, students spend less each year on purchasing required course materials, although more students are choosing to rent textbooks instead.   More schools now report in the higher education literature of purchasing required textbooks in both electronic and print format, on behalf of their students, to combat inconsistencies for those who were simply going without or using much older editions.

Are electronic textbooks at least as good as paper textbooks? Yes, but this answer is more complex and individualized to each learner. There are many factors that influence a learner’s decision to purchase an electronic textbook. It all depends on the amount of reading, subject and perceived difficulty in mastering new content.   Some find the lures of social media too strong and opt for a print work as it is less distracting.   Overall, we know learners sometimes prefer print, and other times they prefer the electronic version but generally, surveys on this subject seem to be in agreement that having access to both an electronic and print textbook copy is optimal. But, we’re back to cost. Very few students can afford to purchase both formats.   Possibly, the answer lies in being able to print on demand an exact reproduction of the print work from the e-textbook to provide learner’s the options they seek.   However, digital rights management technologies limit how much can be printed.   If e-textbook programs are going to be successful, for all learners, the ability to go back and forth between the print and electronic format will be key.

    Roger Watson
Roger Watson
Editor, Nursing Open and Journal of Advanced Nursing

When a manuscript is submitted to a peer reviewed journal, if it is not rejected then it is almost inevitable that the authors will be asked to revise their manuscript before re-submission.  Authors often receive this criticism of their manuscript out of proportion to the actual work that is required.  On the whole, more experienced authors who have been through the publishing process a few times, take a more measured approach than their less-experienced counterparts.  Nevertheless, for any author, a request for revisions should be considered an opportunity and it ought to be taken.  If a colleague has received a manuscript from a journal with a request for revisions and they ask me if they should revise and re-submit or send it elsewhere, I always advise them to revise and re-submit.  Their manuscript has not been rejected and they have been given free advice on the points they need to address.471069749_295439283_295439290_256224451 (2).jpg

Extent of revisions

Some journals still use the convention of 'major' or 'minor' revisions, but some merely request revisions.  The major and minor revisions distinction is arbitrary in any case and often meaningless.  I have seen some reviewers write several pages of comments and tick 'minor revisions' while others write a one-line review with 'major revisions' ticked.  Of course, the decision conveyed to the author will be an amalgam of these comments and opinions along with the editor's comments.  Whether major or minor, the comments need to be addressed.  Some authors recoil at an extensive and detailed list of comments.  But, as a fellow author, I have learned to embrace such lists as they are usually very precise and instructive, leaving you in no doubt about what changes are expected before the manuscript will be considered for publication. There is nothing worse than a few vague comments which do not help you to improve the manuscript.

The first steps

Often reviewers will provide a list of discrete points but sometimes they will only provide a narrative review, where the points to be addressed are contained but not listed.  In either case, your first steps - having read the reviews and gained an overall impression of what needs to be done and the extent of the work - is to make a list of the points and to contain these in a table with four columns, as follows: Number of comment; Reviewer's comment; Response; Page (i.e. the page at which the comment has been addressed).  All the minor points should be dealt with first: the spelling mistakes; grammatical errors; inconsistencies; points of house style; and inaccurate comments. Let’s be clear: we all make these errors and they must be addressed.  This way you will probably find that you have dealt with the majority of the points.  Next, you need to address the substantial (in terms of size) and substantive (in terms of your analysis and arguments) points.

How to address reviewers' comments

The best advice here is to follow the process outlined by Williams (2004) who said:

• answer politely

• answer completely

• answer with evidence

Answering politely means never being insulting to the reviewers, the editor or the journal publishers; it is pointless and unlikely to advance your case for publication.  As editors we do our best to discourage inappropriate comments by reviewers and to edit out any that they may make.  If any of these to filter through to you then do not 'rise to the bait' and reply in kind; stick to the point that is being raised.

Answering completely means two things: responding to all the points that are raised; and responding to each of the points as thoroughly as you can.  Your 'default' setting ought to be a willingness to make any necessary changes but if there are contradictory points between reviewers and/or a reviewer has actually misunderstood you or is patently wrong, then these points still need to be addressed.  The worst mistake you can make is to ignore a point.  And, if you are pointing out an error or a misunderstanding, then refer to the point above about being polite.

Answering with evidence means that, where you disagree with a reviewer you must support that with evidence and the best way to do this - provided the evidence is correct - is to reference other published work supporting your point.

Finally, be optimistic and proceed with the belief that if you address the points adequately, then you are very likely to be accepted and published.

For more on dealing with reviewer comments, you can listen to my podcast.


Williams HC (2004) How to reply to referees' comments when submitting manuscripts for publication Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology  51, 79-83.

Image Credit/Source:parema/gettyimages

    Anne-Marie Green
Anne-Marie Green
Communication Manager, Wiley

Heather Staines, Director of Publisher and Content Strategy for ProQuest SIPX, spoke to us recently about how SIPX is serving students, faculty and librarians and what's next for the start-up.


Source: Heather Staines
Source: Heather Staines

Q. Can you tell us a bit about your background and how SIPX came about?

A. I come from the publishing world. I spent a number of years as a military history book acquisition editor for Praeger Publishers, eventually serving as editorial director for a multi-format imprint. I fell in love with what we then called “electronic publishing,” and I moved to Springer Science + Business media to be Global eProduct Manager for SpringerLink. After working on a large rights-clearance project for the Springer eBook Archives, I made the move to SIPX in the fall of 2012.

SIPX draws its name from its origins as a research project at Stanford University—the Stanford Intellectual Property Exchange, an initiative designed to apply technology to help people better understand and navigate copyright and content complexities. The first focus was of course to solve some of the problems the research team faced themselves in the higher education space, and SIPX focused on solving pain points and creating efficiencies and savings for students and schools in course materials processes. Connecting into existing course and teaching workflows (like through Learning Management Systems, library e-reserves services or bookstore coursepacks), SIPX brings visibility to and automatically applies library collections and open content resources to these workflows to ensure that faculty are aware of licensed materials paid for by the library and to prevent any needless, redundant royalty payments by students. If any additional permission is needed, SIPX seamlessly handles this process, managing the payment transaction, royalties and invoicing through scalable microtransaction technology and not manual effort. While SIPX was designed for use on campus, our connection with Stanford meant that we were also involved in new learning initiatives, like Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), as well as distance learning and continuing studies. To explore some of these newer models, we continue to build partnerships with a small but diverse cross-section of publishers, from academic to trade, higher education to university presses.

Q. How does SIPX make life easier for the educator, the student and the librarian?

A. SIPX was developed from the perspective of educators who often find themselves in a complex and overwhelming copyright maze. By automatically surfacing and recognizing library holdings, open educational resources, and providing real-time pricing information for non-subscribed content, a teacher finally (and instantly) has the easy insight they need to set up course readings in a fraction of the time it used to take, see what other relevant content is available for use in a course, and understand what additional costs they are creating for their students or school. SIPX also connects to a growing collection (currently at over 25 million) of publisher documents to save the teacher or support team time and energy in tracking down or scanning a source document. Instructors also see analytics on student engagement with the assigned readings, so they can adjust their teaching for their students in real-time too.

Students enjoy considerable flexibility and savings through SIPX. By unbundling the traditional coursepack into individual digital readings, SIPX offers students immediate and convenient access to their assigned readings, and publisher-provided documents give students the best reading experience with the clearest content possible. If purchases are needed, students can buy what they need as they need it, allowing them to stay fully up to date in classes even when their budgets might be strained at the beginning of every term when they’re also trying to manage tuition and textbook costs.

Librarians benefit from more exposure of their collections to the faculty and students who rely on this content for teaching and learning. For schools that offer library e-reserves services on their campus, SIPX easily connects to these systems to bring its same efficiencies and savings to the library team. The library also has access to a dashboard that gives them aggregated data insights into their campus’ curriculum needs – not only what subscribed usage is, but also what non-subscribed content is being selected by teachers and used/purchased by students – real data that helps a library tailor its collections to bring more value to its campus.

Q. SIPX aims to eliminate duplicate spending on holdings at institutions, but how does it helps libraries leverage the holdings they already have?

A. When SIPX is set up for a school, it ingests library holdings data to ensure the system understands when an institution has purchased a content license, from individual subscriptions to the CCC’s Annual Copyright License. When course readings are set up in the system, the SIPX technology always automatically matches library holdings data against the search results to ensure that students receive instant access to the content that the library has curated for them. This also allows the library to be recognized by the faculty and students for the value and savings they create for the campus through the library collection.

Q. SIPX was recently acquired by ProQuest. What kind of change did that acquisition bring about and what’s next for SIPX?

A. SIPX—now ProQuest SIPX—operates as its own business unit and continues in its mission to support more affordable and high quality education under the leadership of SIPX founder Franny Lee. ProQuest was attracted to SIPX by the cutting-edge work that SIPX was doing in the teaching and learning space, both on campus and in online education, and ProQuest refuses to let us lose our start-up! While it is business as usual for the SIPX team, we’re excited to have access to all of the additional resources that ProQuest brings to the table. From existing university relationships, to powerful technology and services, to a wide array of content agreements, ProQuest offers SIPX the opportunity to more quickly grow our unique technology, workflow efficiencies, and cost savings to a wider audience. We’re continuing to build in every respect, from service enhancements to content partnerships to more and more universities and colleges coming on board. We take our user feedback very seriously and continually strive to fit better with existing institutional workflows.

Q. Finally, I see that you were a Google Glass Explorer. Do you think Google Glass has a future?

A. Yes, and Glass still has a very bright future, although it will likely be grounded in the enterprise space. The Glass at Work project is very much alive and well and rolling out a new waterproof version of Glass soon. Wearables are a tough market, as we’ve seen lately with disappointing sales of the Apple Watch. I still believe that there are tremendous opportunities for hands-free wearable devices, whether those are in industry, for people with hearing or visual disabilities, or for folks with autism. I still use mine regularly for pictures and video, and I look forward to the next iterations of Glass.

Thanks Heather!

    Richard Threlfall
Richard Threlfall
Editor, Asian Journal of Organic Chemistry, Wiley
Source: monkeybusinessimages
Source: monkeybusinessimages

What do a Swedish furniture retailer, a nineteenth century inventor, and peer review have in common? On the face of it, not much, but recently I read a book  that made me think all three might be more connected than you might think.

For those of you (perhaps fortunate few) who have never been into one of its stores, IKEA has a reputation for reasonably priced and trendy furniture that is the staple of many a student and young homeowner’s shopping lists. You go into a store, choose what you like, consume excess meatballs (that’s another story), pick up your flat-packed furniture, return home and assemble it yourself.

A lesser-known fact about IKEA is that it lends its name to something called “the IKEA effect.” The principal idea is that when we directly invest effort in creating “something,” we generally expect that “something” to be worth far more than if we had had no input into the creative process. Whether “the IKEA effect” is the secret to IKEA’s success is a moot point here, but it is an interesting phenomenon and is an example of a common unconscious bias that we are all subject to everyday.

Another example of such a bias is the so-called “NIH effect.” Nothing to do with the US National Institutes of Health, the “not invented here” effect is the principle of not using or acknowledging an invention as better than your own just because it was invented by someone else. Thomas Edison was the inventor and a staunch proponent of direct current (DC) who battled hard against the introduction of alternating current (AC) in the early days of public electricity supply because he believed so much in his own invention. He even went as far as publicly electrocuting stray animals that were unfortunate enough to cross his path to demonstrate how dangerous AC was. He and those poor animals were, if in very different ways, victims of the NIH effect.

That got me thinking, not about torturing defenseless animals, but about whether peer review is also subject to such biases? According to the IKEA and NIH effects, a “creator” overvalues his or her work and a “user/evaluator” doesn’t readily acknowledge the value of other people’s ideas. Is peer review then really a struggle between over-eager authors, who can’t see anything beyond their rose-tinted view of their own work, and dismissive referees who think everyone else is not as smart as them?

As far as I know, no-one has yet studied whether such biases exist in peer review of academic papers (it would be great if anyone knows of such studies, please contact me if you do), but if unconscious effects exist in peer review, and there’s no reason to suspect they don’t, what could you do about them? After all, by its very definition a referee or author can’t know that they may be suffering from an unconscious bias about a piece of work. Even if you were to point out the existence of such effects, most people will overestimate their ability to effectively recognize and combat it (and like most biases, this one also has a name: “illusory superiority,” or perhaps it should be more aptly called the “I’d know if I was doing that” effect).

More than trying to influence anyone else’s behaviour in peer review, it may be that the greatest opportunity that the IKEA and NIH effects offer us is that of introspection. Before we suffer from the IKEA effect, might we want to take a detailed look at our own work to see if it really is the best we can do, or can we objectively (as far as possible) agree with that critical referee and make some improvements? In being that critical referee, might we want to ask if we really are finding fault with a piece of work, or are we just criticizing an idea that someone else has had because the NIH effect tells us that our ideas are usually better?

While I don’t expect that bringing these biases to anyone’s attention will drastically change the way science is done, it is just another reminder that scientists, who are held up as beacons of objectivity in society, are just as human as the rest of us. If a little bit of subjectivity creeps into things every now and again, it shouldn’t be unexpected, but should, in fact, be completely expected as a matter of course.

So the next time you receive a critical report from a referee who clearly hasn’t appreciated the sheer brilliance of your paper, you can take some comfort in thinking that he or she is likely just a latter-day incarnation of Edison and is probably just a tiny bit jealous that it wasn’t his/her idea. That is, of course, until the blue and yellow behemoth of self-assembled furniture rolls along and reminds you that you actually might be seeing things from a slightly biased point of view yourself. Pass the meatballs.

Disclaimer: No innocent animals were electrocuted in the making of this blog post.

1. Ariely, D; The Upside of Irrationality, 2011, Harper-Collins USA. The Edison example discussed in this post is taken from this book, which is an excellent introduction to everyday human biases. I highly recommend it if you have a passing interest in knowing how you and your fellow humans really see the world!

    Siddarth Chandrasekaran
Siddarth Chandrasekaran
Graduate Student, Cornell University

Recent studies reveal that less than 5% of Life Sciences PhD graduates chose an academic position or career path. The majority of PhD graduates end up pursuing a number of alternative career paths, such as science communication and policy. There are numerous blogs and articles that detail these choices and their pros and cons.

For many PhDs, skills acquired in the academy are not directly transferable to these alternative paths and can leave you struggling when pursuing other careers. I’ve identified here some ways in which researchers can supplement their academic training with simple, social media practices to enhance their alternative career options. Social media avenues are generally free and, if properly planned, not too time consuming.shutterstock_168278123_258484841_258484842_256224451.jpg

Three benefits of social media for your career search:

   Adding personality to your professional portfolio – Social media sites allow you to develop a professional portfolio that can be used for a variety of tasks, including job searches. These websites also allow you to document your thoughts and share content of interest to you, hence they can be used to express your personality in more detail than a standard CV or resume. LinkedIn is one useful resource for developing your professional portfolio.

  • Community through forums – Scores of interesting discussions over a wide range of scientific topics take place every day. I find ‘Quora’ to be an interesting resources for career advice. For example, I recently read through the following thread on “how to become a data scientist” -. These discussions can offer practical, real-world advice and have definitely helped me expand my thinking as to how to approach my career search
  • Research promotion – Social media sites are great avenues for promoting your research progress whether you plan to pursue an academic career or not. One added benefit is that funding for research is dependent on getting your message to the public and many funding agencies are demanding that research groups develop a strong social media presence.


A couple of places to start


There are myriad social media avenues available for one to pursue and it can be very time consuming to identify resources that are best suited to each person. For the absolute beginners, I find that Twitter and LinkedIn are two of the most used resources for professional development.


An interesting tweet about the latest changes to scientific publishing that was originally published online by ‘The Guardian
An interesting tweet about the latest changes to scientific publishing that was originally published online by ‘The Guardian

Twitter–Twitter already has a large number of scientific users, which include researchers, journal editors, and professional societies alongside users from a wide range of industries.

By carefully curating your Twitter feed, you can keep abreast of the issues important to you as well as the latest trends in your field. For example, being a biophysical chemist, I follow all the major journals in my field, so my Twitter feed is inundated with articles about the latest trends in chemistry & biophysics. One resource that I find useful in organizing my Twitter feed is TweetDeck an application that allows you to manage the display of your Twitter feed.

Tweetdeck also helps you follow tweets based on keywords’, I found that following the keyword #pharma helps me stay on top of the industry, including commercial information about the state of a company. This knowledge gives me a distinct advantage when applying to jobs at pharmaceutical companies.

LinkedIn–Beyond the basic networking and professional profile capabilities LinkedIn offers, the site has a great‘Jobs’ page that can give you information about the latest jobs in your field. However, one extremely useful feature of LinkedIn is that you can connect with the alumni of your university and seek advice from those working in your field of interest.

Cornell LinkedIn page

I hope these suggestions are useful as you look for a job. Which social media platforms do you use in your career search and how? Feel free to leave a comment below or tweet @WileyExchanges.

Siddarth Chandrasekaran belongs to Wiley Advisors. a group of early career researchers and professionals who serve as a voice for their communities. Visit the website to learn more.

Image Credit/Source:Twin Design/Shutterstock

    Lynda Tait
Lynda Tait
Researcher, Nottingham University
Blog image 4
Source: Lynda Tait

Social media is probably one of the best ways to get your research noticed. Use images to ensure that your digital profiles are optimized when creating content for your blogs, websites, or social media channels. There are numerous online tools to help you find images, but it’s often hard to figure out if you can legally use the images you find.

Creating Visual Content with Canva

The image tool I’ve had the most success with is Canva (http://www.canva.com/). It’s an all-in-one innovative online drag-and-drop graphic design tool that’s amazingly easy to use to create professional looking images. It has more than one million pics, graphics, and fonts that you can use to create your own original images.

People love visual images. We love making them, looking at them, sharing them, and (oh yeah) commenting on them.

You are limited only by your imagination!

Getting Started

1. Sign up to use Canva’s free graphic design tool

2. Pick one of Canva’s stunning Templates to use

3. Customize the template, adding your own photo(s), or dragging and dropping the free graphics or text to create your original design

4. Save and download.

Canva has plenty of tutorials to start you off on your graphic design journey. There’s also a blog chock full of helpful tips and techniques on graphic design. It leans towards business marketing, but I don’t need to remind you that marketing your research is necessary and no longer an option.


Blog image2
Source: Lynda Tait

Start Designing

There are only a few steps to unleashing your creativity.

Step 1: Choose a Template. The first screen invites you to start a new design and presents several layouts for you to select for Posters or Presentations, and across popular social media platforms such as Pinterest, Facebook covers, Blog graphics, or a Twitter header, and documents, brochures, cards and business cards, invitations, infographics, and a photo collage. You don’t even have to think about optimizing the image size, as it’s already done for you.

The site is great for creating exquisite images for your research study logos, posters, presentations, blog content, photo collages, invitations, flyers, marketing materials, and for sharing across all your social media sites as well.

Step 2: Start with a Layout. Pick a layout from the sidebar on the left side. Search or browse through the options, or even upload one of your own.


Blog image3
Source: Lynda Tait

Step 3: Picking text and color. From this sidebar you can change the background or text, and upload your own images. Click on elements within the graphic and bin elements that you don’t want, and replace with other graphics or text. You can change the text size, font style, or pick different colors.

If you add something you don’t like, or you make a mistake – don’t panic – just use the undo button at the top. It’s that easy. Have fun playing with all the features and using your creativity.

Step 4: Publish. When you’re happy with the image you have created, click on “Link and Publish” to download the finished image to your desktop or save to a folder.

You can now use your original graphic image, designed by you, on your blog, Facebook or Twitter, for example, without having to worry about who owns the copyright.

You can also post your graphic images to image-based social networks and platforms such as Pinterest, and Instagram. These platforms have higher rates of engagement than others such as Facebook or Twitter, so the images that you create and share can drive more traffic to your digital content. Creating your own images will therefore capitalize on the power of visual media to raise visibility for your content with a wider audience.

The increasing importance of “impact” in assessing research excellence means that researchers, now more than ever before, need to maximize the effectiveness of knowledge exchange. If you want to create impact, you need to engage more effectively with a wider audience. Often overlooked in a research communication strategy, social media is a great way of providing access to audiences beyond our immediate reach. It offers a great opportunity to engage effectively with all your stakeholders, and get them to take notice of your research and why it’s of significance to them. Images play a central role in this strategy and, as you can see, it’s not difficult to create images for your social media platforms. You’ll get more social shares and more exposure for your research – take every opportunity to get your work noticed!

Okay, now go and unleash your own creativity!

    Alison Oliver
Alison Oliver
Editor,  Statistics Views, Wiley

Ben Goldacre is a best-selling author, broadcaster, campaigner, medical doctor and academic who specializes in unpacking the misuse of science and statistics by journalists, politicians, drug companies, etc. His first book Bad Science has sold over half a million copies to date and reached number one in the UK non-fiction bestseller charts.

He is also working on the AllTrials campaign which aims to aggregate information from a variety of sources to build up and provide a comprehensive, global picture of the data on all trials conducted on medical treatments. This month sees the release of their Trials Transparency Index, an audit of the 50 largest global drug companies.

Below is an excerpted interview with Dr. Goldacre recently published in Statistics Views.


Source: Dr. Ben Goldacre
Source: Dr. Ben Goldacre

Q. You have a very active Twitter feed. What do you like about Twitter and how important has social media been in giving Bad Science a voice to raise awareness of issues? Are there any key successes you can highlight?

A. What I love about Twitter is that you can follow a thousand people who are all working in different and interesting fields and just every now and then, trail your fingers into this river of information as it passes by. Also, as it is so low threshold, you gain access to the passing thoughts of very clever people which you never previously would have had. In the past, if Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet, was waiting in the check-in queue at Heathrow and was reading a global health story in a newspaper which he thinks is wrong, that thought would have eventually disappeared. But now, he can pull out his phone and tweet that the news story is incorrect as the The Lancet published an article on that subject some months back.

So being able to sift through those tailored feeds of serendipity is absolutely amazing and I think it is also really interesting for showing you who is truly clued up on their subject matter. I have a deep-rooted prejudice which is that if people can talk fluently in everyday language about their job, it strongly suggests that they have fully incorporated their work into their character.

Q. AllTrials is a campaign which calls all past and present clinical trials to be registered and their full methods and summary results reported. How did this project come about? Are you able to measure its progress so far?

A. AllTrials is not really about open research in the sense of open lab books or anything technical. Its message is this - if you have completed a clinical trial, you have to share the full methods and summary of results with doctors, researchers and patients because that is the only way we can make truly informed decisions about which treatment works best.

It was precipitated by claims from people in the industry around 2012 that the problem of trials going missing in action no longer existed and that it had been fixed. This was in response to my book Bad Pharma. I was kicking around on my own trying to get people working in government to take it more seriously and simultaneously, many leading names in academia had been trying to raise these issues for some time, such as Iain Chalmers and various people at the BMJ. It seemed to me that we needed to work in a constructive and collective way in order to fix this problem.

So we hooked up with Sense About Science, a professional lobbying organization and a really great, interesting charity who previously mocked quacks in science but also worked with others in helping to take the public engagement with science more seriously. They also worked on the libel reform campaign which came about after my friend, Simon Singh got sued for libel over some unkind things he said about chiropractors and that was a couple of years after I got sued by a vitamin pills salesman called Matthias Rath in a case which was unsuccessful but it cost the Guardian  500,000 to defend. We got a change in the law and it was clear to me that Sense About Science was strategic and cut straight to the heart of the matter and that’s what we needed with clinical trials.

In terms of our impact, one can quickly measure process outcomes e.g. we can count the number of meetings we have had with MEPS, journalists, etc.; we can say for definite that we have triggered various stories; we have seen our policy analysis being picked up and used by others. We are just about to launch our trials transparency index which is an audit of the 50 largest global drug companies. To be clear, drug companies are not the only bad people here because non-industry sponsored trials are often appalling at sharing their results too but what is interesting about drug companies is that they are the only people who actively campaign against transparency. This makes them out as the enemy which I don’t think they are – there is a range of views, policies and activities within the industry and what we have done with the trials transparency index is set about trying to map that.

Q. What kind of feedback do you receive from your audience? In terms of positive feedback, do they include statisticians or members of the public who applaud you for spotting these inconsistencies? How about the negative?

A. Yes, people like what I do and there are also people who despise me! You have to be really careful if you have any kind of public profile because you need to keep listening to feedback and yet ensure that the positive and negative stuff doesn’t really hit you. I think that is one nice thing about being a doctor and working in difficult areas for a long time, in that you develop a degree of equanimity. The approval of strangers is clearly intoxicating and you see people being taken in by it. You have to try not to get caught up in it and when people say horrible things, it is pretty easy to ignore. If someone is cross with me on Twitter, I sometimes check their profile and it turns out that that person is cross with everyone. You also have to read and make sure that someone has not identified something where you have been either flat wrong or more commonly, that there may have been nuances or other more interesting contextual issues that you had missed.

Q. What do you see as the greatest challenges facing the professions of medicine and statistics in the coming years?

A. I think in medicine and statistics it is really obvious. We need to up our game and obtain structured, shared, interlinked data on everything that we do. You can see that people are making baby steps towards that e.g. ORCID IDs for authors so that you can match up papers and the standard results from clinical trials. You can imagine a vast interlocking network of data from evidence-based medicine that would support shared decision-making in a clinical setting. This would then free up doctors to do what only people can do with patient interaction – to talk about priorities and benefits vs side effects, etc. I think the real challenge for doctors and statisticians now is how we can create an information architecture of the process of gathering and disseminating knowledge to doctors and patients, so that they can then have a chat on the best techniques. That is something that we are insufficiently ambitious about in medicine and that is partly what I am doing here at Oxford. There are hundreds of people around the world working on these issues but they don’t get the same amount of money as one individual clinical trial and that is very peculiar. That is probably our fault, because we don’t have a better catchphrase than the information architecture of evidence-based medicine.

To watch a video interview with Dr. Goldacre and to read the complete interview online, visit: Statistics Views.

    Anne-Marie Green
Anne-Marie Green
Communication Manager

Douglas Braaten, Executive Director of Scientific Publications at the New York Academy of Sciences, recently filled us in on the latest developments at the Academy, including the launch of a new book series and what the Academy is doing to foster STEM innovation as it enters its third century.


Q. Can you tell us about your background and your current role?
I have been a scientific editor for ten years, six at the Academy and before that, at Nature Publishing Group. My research background is in cell biology, virology and immunology––starting way back in 1982 as a work–study student at Washington University in St. Louis. I spent 23 years doing research as a technician, graduate student, and postdoc; when it was time to either go out to start a lab on my own or do something else, I was fortunate to find a great editing position at Nature Immunology. My current role at the Academy includes being editor-in-chief of Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, as well as executive director of Academy science publications.



Research scientists working together
Source: Getty Images



Q. What is the mission of the NYAS? Can you provide a (very) brief history?
Beginning as a relatively small organization in 1817 that focused on natural history (e.g., ferns, flora, and fauna), the New York Academy of Sciences currently has more than 20,000 members in 100 countries around the world working at the frontiers of discovery and promoting vital links between science and society. The Academy's core mission, advanced through our many programs, is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large.


Q. The NYAS is well-known for Annals, continually published since 1823. Why did you decide to launch a new book series?
For many years, in the late 19th through mid-20th centuries, the Academy had an established book program that produced several important publications, even though the output was somewhat irregular. This was at a time when the Academy served as its own publisher. Not only were occasional books published by the Academy but also the venerable Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. The Academy ceased to function as an independent publisher in 2005 when it signed a contract with Wiley to publish Annals. Given this history then, it was not so much whether the Academy would begin a book series again, but when. The long-standing, close relationship between the Academy and Wiley was particularly conducive to developing a series that would enable the two institutions to bring together distinct talents, from the Academy’s 20,000 diverse members and multiple programs, to Wiley’s worldwide brand recognition and production, marketing, and distribution capabilities.


Q. What types of topics will the new series cover? How will they differ from Annals?
The series really will be open to all topics in science—broadly construed––in keeping with the multidisciplinary nature of the Academy. Our core audience––those who come to events, read Annals, and visit our website, is in the biological sciences, ranging from everything from anatomy to zoology. But the Academy also is deeply committed to science education and areas in the physical sciences, including Green technology, ecology and conservation biology, and even mathematics. What will make a proposal of particular interest is that it is on a topic that will be of interest to many of our members, as well as those who may not be members, but are involved in our many programs. The topics covered in Annals are narrower that what we hope to cover in at least some of the book projects for the series—especially when it comes to topics and content that could be used for educational purposes. Those interested in submitting a book proposal or who have questions can contact me directly at dbraaten@nyas.org.


Q. What’s next for the Academy?
The new Academy program called the Global STEM Alliance is an international initiative of more than 90 partners and 50 countries—a collaboration of governments, corporations, educational institutions, and nongovernmental organizations—working together to assure the next the generation of STEM innovators. Our many conference and discussion groups cover topics in all areas of science and bring to the Academy several thousand participants each year. The Academy’s Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science is dedicated to advancing nutrition science research and knowledge, mobilizing communities, and applying this work in the field. All of these programs are ongoing, growing, and key to the Academy’s continuing success and worldwide influence. In 2017 the Academy will celebrate its 200th anniversary, launch a significant capital campaign project, and kick off its third century of inspiring scientific progress.


Thanks Doug!

Embracing Research4Life

Posted Jul 17, 2015
    Richard Gedye
Richard Gedye
   Research4Life Publisher Coordinator
Fredrick Otike giving a Research4Life training at the Library of Dedan Kimathi University, Kenya. Source: Research4Life  
Fredrick Otike giving a Research4Life training at the Library of Dedan Kimathi University, Kenya.
Source: Research4Life

As a young student growing up in a remote village in southwest Kenya, Fredrick’s secondary school lacked electricity and running water,  not to mention a library and science laboratory. So it’s not surprising that Fredrick looked forward to his school holidays in order to travel  to his public library, which was many kilometers away. The library represented a calm sanctuary for Fredrick, now Head Librarian at  Dedan Kimathi University of Technology. “During school holidays, I would always visit the public library just to have the feeling of a quiet  reading environment that I lacked at our school,” he reminisces.


After undergraduate studies at Kenyatta University, he followed his dreams of working in his sanctuary, earning a Masters Degree in  Library and Information Sciences at Moi University. “This is where my dream of becoming an academic librarian strengthened,” he  explains. Fredrick began work as an assistant librarian at Dedan Kimathi in 2010. The institution, which gained its charter as a university  in December 2012, offers programs in Engineering and Technology, Business and Nursing.


But it wasn’t all tranquility for this newly appointed professional. “Students and lecturers were always complaining about our insufficient  resources,” he says, “Before joining Research4Life, we used to rely on hard books and journals which were not recent and up-to-date. The library users had no faith in the library services.” He also realized the need to learn more about electronic data resources to better serve the research community. “Researchers used to pester us to subscribe to the Research4Life resources. We were even surprised that most researchers had more knowledge about the resources than some librarians.”


The institution registered for Research4Life and in 2011, Fredrick attended a training workshop at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, where he began to see the possibility of mastering the tools needed to provide top-notch library services. He was soon certified in Research4Life and TEEAL programs.


He used the skills and knowledge he gained to train researchers, doctors, lecturers, students and the other university librarians.

Together, the university librarians and e-learning staff conduct training workshops in the computer laboratory using PowerPoint™ presentations, practice sessions and quizzes. All new university students now participate in the workshops within a month of beginning classes. Nursing students, who train at hospitals and healthcare centers off campus, have also benefitted.


Ever since we introduced and conducted training for these students on HINARI information resources, an impact of satisfaction has been evident. These students are now able to access useful medical information resources without necessarily visiting the University Library.


Research4Life has also contributed directly to the advancement of Fredrick’s academic research with the publication of a book and six peer-reviewed research papers on Library Science. He would welcome refresher courses designed to keep librarians up-to-date on developments in electronic resources.


“Libraries are supposed to embrace the new information technology and communication lest their role become redundant,” he says, “If librarians are equipped with relevant knowledge and skills on electronic resources, they will be able to first appreciate the new knowledge; they will then be able to train more library users.”


Fredrick would like to pursue a doctoral degree in Information Studies. His research area of choice is an examination of the impact of information technology on the future trends of academic libraries in developing countries.

The above story is excerpted, with permission, from the Reseach4Life publicaiton: Unsung Heroes: Stories from the Library.

PEERE-ing into peer review

Posted Jul 16, 2015
    Michael Willis
Michael Willis
Senior Manager, Peer Review




Source: PEERE.org
Source: PEERE.org

Professor Flaminio Squazzoni is chair of PEERE, a project (‘Action’) funded by the European Union to explore issues around journal and grant peer review, running from 2014 to 2018. I recently spoke with Professor Squazzoni to learn more about PEERE’s mission, milestones, and desired outcomes.



Q. Give us some background on the PEERE Action: how did it begin? What is its raison d’être? How does your current academic position relate to it?

A. The idea behind PEERE started both from my research interests on previous work I have carried out on evaluation processes and peer review and from several discussions with colleagues. I cannot count how many times during these events we shared our personal frustration about the situation of peer review, both at the journal and grant funding level, and especially the lack of solid understanding and systematic analysis of this important scientific institution. Eventually, we decided to stop complaining and start doing something about it. I attended a conference on the future of open science in Oxford in 2011 and realized that only a large-scale, multidisciplinary, inter-sectoral collaboration could make a difference. I pulled together a group of people undertaking scientific research on peer review across various disciplines. Separately I contacted some stakeholders (such as Wiley, Elsevier, and Springer) with the idea of involving them in the most important challenge of PEERE: opening a data sharing initiative for journals to make their peer review data available for research. The EU Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) panel eventually agreed to support the initiative, and PEERE came to life.


Q. Who is involved in the Action now?
We have 28 EU countries represented. The management committee consists of 40 members with another 20 colleagues in three working groups. These working groups are focusing on analysis of peer review, data sharing, and research agenda. The members represent a wide range of specialties, from scientometrics and computer science to behavioral and biomedical sciences, with a good balance of gender and broad range of academic experience. A great feature of PEERE is that most members have never met one another; it is a truly collaborative exercise.


Q. What has PEERE done so far?
We meet several times a year in different European locations, with invited speakers and presentations of research undertaken by members of the Action. We have performed a review of the literature on peer review, trying to trace the evolution of this field empirically. The number of publications on this topic clearly demonstrates a growing interest in the area. We have also started to discuss how to measure the quality and efficiency of the peer review process. Initial research on peer review data for some journals has investigated reviewer bias, network effects (how much the position of a scientist in the community may influence his/her judgement), variations in the way peer reviewers assess papers across different disciplines, and the content and quality of peer reviewer reports. More importantly we have started to collaborate with our three publisher stakeholders, Wiley, Elsevier, and Springer, to discuss the logistics and legalities around sharing data. We are in the process of developing a protocol to make peer review data sharing possible while guaranteeing the interests of all involved.


Q. What activities are planned for the future?
Our next goal is to create a dataset on peer review among a sample of journals, to study peer review in different fields and contexts, and measure the quality and efficiency of the process. We plan to explore whether the type of peer review model (open vs. closed, pre-publication vs. post-publication) has a significant effect on the quality and efficiency of the process. We are also planning to undertake in-depth analysis of peer review at funding agencies in order to understand better the role of peer review in the way grant panels make funding decisions. Finally we hope to organize a summer school on peer review, probably in 2017, where we will train academics and professionals on approaches, methods, and tools in peer review. More practically we are planning some publications in journals that we hope will set the standard for future research in the area.


Q. What do you find most valuable about PEERE?
PEERE is the first, large-scale collaboration on peer review. It consists of a group of smart people who want to learn from each other and make a difference. Each PEERE meeting has a fairly informal atmosphere with plenty of opportunity for debate and dialogue. An expert on computational linguistics might debate with an economist the pros and cons of paying for fast track peer review, or a scientist might discuss some research results into post-publication peer review with a representative from a publisher. This is not what you find in typical workshops and conferences.


Q. What do you hope will be the outcomes of PEERE?
PEERE wants to make a difference. I hope that, by the time PEERE has finished, data sharing on peer review will be more the rule than the exception. I hope too that we will have clearer ideas about the pros and cons of different models of peer review and more evidence-based knowledge on how to manage peer review, for example, what types of incentives and guidelines can improve its quality and efficiency. Our conclusions will be relevant not only to journal authors, reviewers, and editors, but also to publishers and funding agencies.


Q. The Action runs until 2018. Can anyone interested in PEERE’s activities join?
Any COST Action is open to members of the EU, and we do also have some non-EU partners from North and South America. I recommend looking at the PEERE website (www.peere.org) and, if you are interested, contacting me or the COST Coordinator in your home country.


Flaminio Squazzoni is the chair of the PEERE management committee, a professor at the University of Brescia, and editor of the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation. He can be reached at flaminio.squazzoni@unibs.it.

    Sue Froggatt
Sue Froggatt
Membership Consultant

   Managing-the-Membership-Experience-209x300.jpg Your members build their impressions of you from how you make them feel whenever they ‘interact’ with you.


These interactions will impact how they talk about you to friends and colleagues, whether they decide to renew, and how keen they are to engage and get more involved. So to grow and improve loyalty, it’s critical to get this right.


These interactions happen at a variety of touchpoints, from talking to employees, whenever they use any of the membership benefits, and when they read or try to respond to any of the communication channels-especially when they complete forms on your website.


In order to really understand what members experience when they interact with you, you have to step into their shoes and see what you do, but from the outside-in. This process of becoming ‘member-centric’, requires a new way of working.


Commercial organizations have adopted a tool called journey mapping. They develop a map – which is a walk-through of all the steps in the journey that their customers take in order to get the outcome they are looking for. They look closely for the areas which annoy customers because, for example, it takes too long, or there are too many steps involved or they get unclear messages about what to do next.


The good news is that the results the commercial sector has been achieving as a result of becoming customer-centric have been amazing. Research shows that commercial organizations who focus on the customer experience (cX) are 60%*1 more profitable; customers are more likely to recommend them and less likely to switch*2. This reinforces why this shift in focus is so important to membership associations lookingto grow and improve loyalty.


The customer experience has become a boardroom issue. Around the table you will now find a CXO – A Chief Experience Officer – tasked with ensuring that the membership experience is closely monitored. cX has come of age and moved from what was considered a niche or specialist area, to a mainstream necessity.


It’s not difficult for associations to adopt this thinking and use these tools. In the new book ‘Managing the Membership Experience’, there is a template for journey mapping that has been customized for membership organizations to use. Readers can also walk through the key member journeys, for example the journey into membership, the first year of membership and the journey into volunteer leadership, and see how the templates might be completed.


Associations can use this mapping process to enhance the experience of their events and professional associations might also wish to map the journey from student to full membership to try to improve the conversion rate.


For many professional associations, the idea of journey mapping won’t be new as they are accustomed to mapping career journeys or pathways for a profession, highlighting the various appropriate qualifications along the way. This exercise simply uses a journey mapping process from a different perspective.


The outcome of mapping exercises really becomes clear as members walk through the maps and share what they see.


This new perspective gives association managers a new outlook on what is really important to the member and what to focus on.


In all likelihood, after adopting mapping you will never approach membership in the same way again. You certainly won’t want to develop your membership plan without a clear view on the current membership experience.


For more information on how to manage the membership experience, visit my site.


*1 Deloitte & Touche


*2 Forrester Research

    Ed Williamson
Ed Williamson
Society Marketing, Wiley

A couple of weeks back we attended the 2015 Technology for Associations Congress at the Hilton London Metropole. This two-day conference was designed to provide insights and helpful advice on how to use technology-and how not to use it-to overcome some of the most challenging issues facing societies and associations today. Topics covered ranged from CRM integration to how to hashtag. There were four main themes: event technology, making the right decisions on technology, Data and CRM, and E-learning and each theme contained a mixture of presentations and panel discussions. It was great to hear case studies from societies and associations and get expert advice from partner organizations and consultants. Take a look at our highlights and key takeaways arising from the tweets around the conference #ACTech15. Thanks to the delegates and speakers whose excellent tweets we've shared below.



leveraging technology.PNG

    Lois Elfman
Lois Elfman
Education Writer

Once you make a commitment to doing interdisciplinary work you have to hope that what an institution states in principle bears out in practice: that value is placed on interdisciplinarity.

While interdisciplinary majors such as Africana Studies have been on a steady rise for the past 25 years, at many schools such majors still exist as programs and not departments. Even when such interdisciplinary programs become actual departments, faculty often pull double duty and must be sure to keep home departments fully satisfied while also showing their commitment to the interdisciplinary department.175138090_311516293_311516296_256224451 (1).jpg

What about when faculty are called to be chairs of an interdisciplinary department? In most situations, this is a prestigious, albeit time-consuming, appointment at which most people would jump. But it’s not so simple when the department a faculty member is being asked to chair isn’t the department that controls tenure and promotion.

From program to department

“I do caution people who are not at full professor [to become chairs] because it can definitely delay your scholarly output. It’s a lot of administrative work,” said Dr. Tina

Campt, professor of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Africana Studies at Barnard

College NY. (Barnard is the women’s college of Columbia University NY).

Campt, who taught at Duke University NC before joining the Barnard faculty in 2010, was the director of Barnard’s Africana Studies program for three years, during which she oversaw its recognition as a department, and then served as department chair for the 2013–14 academic year. She has now stepped down as chair.

Overseeing the transition of Barnard’s Africana Studies from a program to a department was not easy. Making it that much harder was the fact that similar transitions had only happened a couple of times previously at the college, and neither the current president nor provost was at Barnard when it last occurred.

On the upside, Campt said going through the process allowed her to have direct input in shaping the college’s future. Shaping the overall educational vision of a school appealed to Campt, but she understands other people are more interested in staying focused on teaching and writing.

When faculty are called to serve as chair

“I don’t encourage non-tenured faculty to chair or direct an interdisciplinary department or program,” Campt said. “There’s enough tenured faculty in every institution to do that work.”

She said associate professors are frequently dynamic people that have a vision to build a program, but interdisciplinary programs, particularly ones evolving, can be quite complex.

Campt said anyone taking on such an appointment needs to be very organized and committed to carving out space to do her own research. For associate professors aiming to become full professors, scholarly production cannot lag, so it’s essential to not let administrative details take over one’s life.

For those who do take on chairing, there is potential for recognition as well as an increase in public profile.

Interdisciplinary work

Dr. Kaiama L. Glover, associate professor of French at Barnard, will be co-chairing the Africana Studies department during the 2014–15 year with Dr. Celia E. Naylor, associate professor of History and Africana Studies. Although both are tenured, the balancing act is more delicate for Glover because her official affiliation is with the French department. Naylor’s affiliation is with both departments; she was a double hire in 2010.

“Although in all of my personal correspondence and the way I identify myself as a professor it’s French and Africana Studies, that isn’t actually reflected in my contract with the college. I will remain a French department professor who is co-chairing Africana Studies,” said Glover.

“I have to make sure I meet all of the requirements and fulfill all the professional obligations in the French department,” Glover said. “It’s a balancing act certainly.” Glover said that once you make a commitment to doing interdisciplinary work you have to hope that what an institution states in principle bears out in practice: That value is placed on interdisciplinarity.

Still, the possibility of being taken off-course from one’s own research is very real.

“You have to figure out ways to make the interdisciplinary program or department dovetail with the thing that keeps you on course with respect to your home department,” said Glover. “For me, that means figuring out ways to make my contributions to Africana Studies in some way resonate with my work in Francophone studies.”

Fortunately, the French-speaking world includes parts of the Caribbean and West Africa, so points of intersection are readily identifiable.

A word of advice to future chairs

If Glover can offer one suggestion to others it’s to find mentors who can help you navigate the interdisciplinary landscape and to do it early in a career. Learning how others have done a successful juggling act provides much needed guidance.

For example, at the time she took on being co-chair of Africana Studies, Glover was on eight college or university committees. A senior faculty member told Glover she had to pull back to make space for herself and not lose sight of her own research.

“Especially as a woman, as a person of color, we have a tendency to say yes to a lot of things, to be service oriented,” said Glover. “It does take mentors who can help you strategize ways to keep that from happening to you. That, to me, is the single most important thing as an upcoming faculty member.”

Also, see a bigger picture despite the challenges. Glover is genuinely excited to co-chair Africana Studies over the next year because it gives her a different range of opportunities—from having the attention of senior administration to creating possibilities for collaboration with people outside of the college. Having taken a look at the possible benefits, it should be well worth the extra effort.

This article is republished with permission from Women in HIgher Education.

Image Credit/Source: Getty images/Wiley/NA


    Laurel Haak
Laurel Haak
Executive Director, ORCID

It has been great to have Wiley partner with us to integrate ORCID identifiers and communicate their importance to the research community. There have been a number of exciting recent developments at ORCID and in the community that show real progress toward our mission of solving the name ambiguity problem in scholarly communications.


    • To aid organizations integrating ORCID identifiers. this past January, we released the Member Support Center, a new website that provides use-case based communications and technical support.


    • In March, we were awarded a $3 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to develop the infrastructure and capacity to support international adoption and technical integration of ORCID.



    • We have worked with over 25 members to launch integrations with ORCID, including Oxford University, MIT, CalTech, and, most recently, the Modern Language Association International Bibliography


    • The number of ORCID registrants has increased to over 1.4 million globally – our goal is to reach 3 million by the end of the year.


June alone has seen three exciting initiatives come to fruition.

First, on June 17, our integration with the MLA International Bibliography went live. This is an especially important integration because it is our first with a predominantly humanities database, enabling the many thousands of scholars in language and related fields to easily link their ORCID records to their works in the database.

Then, on June 22, Italy announced a national ORCID consortium. Led by Cineca, and under the auspices of ANVUR and CRUI, Italy will be implementing ORCID in 74 member institutions initially. Their goal is to ensure that by the end of 2016, at least 80% of Italian researchers have registered for an ORCID iD and connected it to their last 10 years of research outputs.

The following day, we were delighted to announce another national membership agreement, in the UK and led by Jisc; more than 50 universities will be participating in a coordinated implementation project.

With all of these developments, our new Director of Communications, Alice Meadows, who came on board in mid-May, has certainly been busy! “It’s been wonderful to have so much good news to share in my first month,” she told me.

In addition to supporting Alice’s position, funding from the Helmsley Trust has also allowed us to build a global membership team. Led by Doug Wright, the team includes Josh Brown (Europe), Matthew Buys (Middle East & Africa), Nobuko Miraiyi (Asia Pacific), and Lilian Pessao (Latin America). We’ve already started hosting regional workshops, and look forward to partnering with our members—including Wiley – to demonstrate how ORCID is being used across the research community.

So what’s next you might ask? Scheduled for release in 2015: auto-updating ORCID records with new publication information via CrossRef; functionality to support acknowledgement of editors and peer reviewers; and improvements to our APIs.

Stay tuned! You can register to receive updates via our blog or follow us on LinkedIn or twitter at @ORCID_Org.ORCID.PNG

We want failures, seriously!

Posted Jul 7, 2015
  Jean Shipman
Jean Shipman
Eccles Health Sciences Library, University of Utah
  Christy Jarvis
Christy Jarvis
Eccles Health Sciences Library, University of Utah

Innovators often state that they learn a lot from their successes, but even more from their failures. Yet, who publishes about their failures? Which journals commonly report about failures? Who gets promoted or receives tenure in academic environments for their failures?

Hopefully, the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library (EHSL) at the University of Utah has created a solution, called e-channel. e-channel is an interactive platform designed to capture and disseminate the creative output of innovators in all disciplines, but particularly the health sciences. This eclectic hub offers a venue for innovators and researchers to share their results, receive recognition, and contribute to their scholarly disciplines, while also ensuring that others can build on the work reflected. While e-channel currently captures the knowledge generated at the University of Utah, we hope that e-channel will become a national resource and “the place” to go to find information about all kinds of innovative approaches in numerous fields, including education, healthcare, research and global health. Anyone can contribute content to e-channel; just contact Jean Shipman at jean.shipman@utah.edu545875179_294659833_294659837_256224451 (1).jpg

Why e-channel?

e-channel came into being after talking with a number of innovators and researchers who were frustrated on several fronts. One, they’re often not academic community members who write and are awarded grants and thus, don’t have research to publish for academic credit. They do however, often invent devices or therapeutic games that become commercialized and thus, bring revenue to the respective university. However, very few promotion and tenure review committees within universities grant credit for innovator outputs in the same way researchers get credit for obtaining extramural funding and resulting journal publications.

Second, the time it takes to publish has also proved to be an impediment to innovators who are seeking rapid dissemination of their ideas. One entry on e-channel, “Waiting for the next shoe to drop” resulted from our pediatric department chair being limited to a 900-word editorial. He rewrote his editorial multiple times due to the delay in publication and the fast rate of change with health care reform. He also wanted a mechanism for starting a national conversation about health care reform in pediatric hospitals, and a multimedia way of communicating his concerns and igniting conversations. Viola, e-channel came to the rescue.

Failures Revisited

Now back to failures. Our conversations with innovators again highlighted the need to capture and share not only successful outcomes, but what didn’t work, what failed, why the failure occurred, and what was done to overcome the barriers encountered. Attending the VentureWell conferences highlighted the interest in failures as there was a session at the 2015 conference in Portland, Oregon that specifically resulted from previous conference attendees’ desires to communicate about their failures. These conference discussions along with our university-based discussions prompted us to create a “failure” program on e-channel. There is an interactive form (http://library.med.utah.edu/e-channel/failures/) that is intended to help document exercises in innovative thinking or inventing that did not lead to the anticipated successful outcome but nonetheless were vital as learning opportunities. Our hope is that innovators and researchers will get academic credit for reporting their failures as more and more universities are addressing the inclusion of social media and multi-media within their promotion and tenure criteria. Impact and reach are key to awarding academic prestige. Social media and multi-media platforms are offering new venues for the dissemination of valuable information, such as failures. So please, be bold, report your failure to e-channel today.

Want to learn more about e-channel – listen to the podcast.

Image Credit/Source:Westend61/Getty Images


    Tanya Golash-Boza
Tanya Golash-Boza
Associate Professor of Sociology, University of California, Merced

Writing a literature review is often the most daunting part of writing an article, book, thesis, or dissertation. “The literature” seems (and often is) massive. I have found it helpful to be as systematic as possible when completing this gargantuan task.

Sonja Foss and William Walters* describe an efficient and effective way of writing a literature review. Their system provides an excellent guide for getting through the massive amounts of literature for any purpose: in a dissertation, an M.A. thesis, or an article or book in any field of study. Below is a  summary of the steps they outline as well as a step-by-step method for writing a literature review.157317389_335896733_335896738_256224451 (1).jpg

Step One: Decide on your areas of research:

Before you begin to search for articles or books, decide beforehand what areas you are going to research. Make sure that you only get articles and books in those areas, even if you come across fascinating books in other areas. A literature review I am currently working on, for example, explores barriers to higher education for undocumented students.

Step Two: Search for the literature:

Conduct a comprehensive bibliographic search of books and articles in your area. Read the abstracts online and download and/or print those articles that pertain to your area of research. Find books in the library that are relevant and check them out. Set a specific time frame for how long you will search. It should not take more than two or three dedicated sessions.

Step Three: Find relevant excerpts in your books and articles:

Skim the contents of each book and article and look specifically for these five things:

1. Claims, conclusions, and findings about the constructs you are investigating

2. Definitions of terms

3. Calls for follow-up studies relevant to your project

4. Gaps you notice in the literature

5. Disagreement about the constructs you are investigating

When you find any of these five things, type the relevant excerpt directly into a Word document. Don’t summarize, as summarizing takes longer than simply typing the excerpt. Make sure to note the name of the author and the page number following each excerpt. Do this for each article and book that you have in your stack of literature. When you are done, print out your excerpts.

Step Four: Code the literature:

Get out a pair of scissors and cut each excerpt out. Now, sort the pieces of paper into similar topics. Figure out what the main themes are. Place each excerpt into a themed pile. Make sure each note goes into a pile. If there are excerpts that you can’t figure out where they belong, separate those and go over them again at the end to see if you need new categories. When you finish, place each stack of notes into an envelope labeled with the name of the theme.

Step Five: Create Your Conceptual Schema:

Type, in large font, the name of each of your coded themes. Print this out, and cut the titles into individual slips of paper. Take the slips of paper to a table or large workspace and figure out the best way to organize them. Are there ideas that go together or that are in dialogue with each other? Are there ideas that contradict each other? Move around the slips of paper until you come up with a way of organizing the codes that makes sense. Write the conceptual schema down before you forget or someone cleans up your slips of paper.

Step Six: Begin to Write Your Literature Review:

Choose any section of your conceptual schema to begin with. You can begin anywhere, because you already know the order. Find the envelope with the excerpts in them and lay them on the table in front of you. Figure out a mini-conceptual schema based on that theme by grouping together those excerpts that say the same thing. Use that mini-conceptual schema to write up your literature review based on the excerpts that you have in front of you. Don’t forget to include the citations as you write, so as not to lose track of who said what. Repeat this for each section of your literature review.

Once you complete these six steps, you will have a complete draft of your literature review. The great thing about this process is that it breaks down into manageable steps something that seems enormous: writing a literature review.

I think that Foss and Walter’s system for writing the literature review is ideal for a dissertation, because a Ph.D. candidate has already read widely in his or her field through graduate seminars and comprehensive exams.

It may be more challenging for M.A. students, unless you are already familiar with the literature. It is always hard to figure out how much you need to read for deep meaning, and how much you just need to know what others have said. That balance will depend on how much you already know.

For people writing literature reviews for articles or books, this system also could work, especially when you are writing in a field with which you are already familiar. The mere fact of having a system can make the literature review seem much less daunting, so I recommend this system for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the prospect of writing a literature review.

*Destination Dissertation: A Traveler's Guide to a Done Dissertation

Image Credit/Source: Goldmund Lukic/Getty Images

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