Rescuing Academic Research

Whilst updating my academic profiles on Google Scholar and LinkedIn, I was rather surprised to come across several pieces of research that I’d written but not published in an official academic manner.

This research took several forms:

  • Some papers that had been developed early on in my PhD research and informed my later thesis, but which hadn’t been substantially well-enough “shaped” to submit
  • Two papers that I wrote with a BCU colleague after joining, but which I had rather lost track of asking he had agreed to seek publication for these
  • One paper written with a former MSc project student, which needed reducing in size before it could be published
  • And various papers which had been started, but not completed, with other academic commitments getting in the way

It’s unlikely now that the papers would be publishable without some substantial rework. If nothing else, the fields on which these papers were written will have moved on and the information will look dated. It does, however, seem a pity to have research that has been written but is not published anywhere, so I will look to see if there is any way to resurrect these.

Now, all that comes before other research which has been involved students which could easily be made publication ready (given time):

  • There are several good student projects which I’ve worked on previously with students which could easily be made into conference papers
  • In the Professional Practice 2 module students carry out a research investigation as part of an Action Learning Set. There have been some good efforts for this module too.

Both of these meet the wider requirements of  the “Students As Partners” movement which is rightfully gaining traction across the Higher Education Sector.

There are also pieces of research that I’ve carried out to involve students in modules which could also be published.

Finally, I recently wrote a sample literature review on an aspect of the contract cheating area, designed to show students how they could undertake an assessment of their own. Whilst the Literature Review probably isn’t publication ready in its own right, some gaps in the literature became immediately clear to me.

Generally, these were things that I remember presenting about (or watching other people give presentations on) during research seminars and workshops, but which had never made it through the formal documented process of an academic publication.

Some of these talks could easily be made into an academic conference paper with very little new work needed.

It just goes to show how much research is out there.

My Challenge

My challenge is to see what research can be rescued and used in some other form.

If nothing else, a number of previously published pieces of research are no longer available anywhere. Conferences which had web sites hosted by universities have since had their entire archives removed (one of the dangers of relying on a third party to host information).

I need to go back through the archive of what I’ve done, see what can be made available and see how it can be made available. Just having a single archive of papers and talks (linked to the appropriate copyright holders where necessary) is important, as opposed to stylistically different versions spread over multiple sites.

Just getting everything in order for my own records will represent a big achievement.

Your Challenge

Your challenge is to consider your own academic publications and see what information there is out there and how it’s stored.

If nothing else, I recommend updating your LinkedIn profile to include the Publications and making sure that these are archived on your own sites.

Students, as well, should think if there’s anything you’ve done which contains academic research and which might be publishable with the aid of your lecturers or project supervisor.

How does that sound? Is there anything that I’ve missed or which you wish to add?

Just comment below and do go ahead and share your thoughts.

Who Are You Paying For Assignments?

Just spotted an interesting little remark as part of an online discussion about cheating:

We also had a student to went to one of the contract-cheating sites to do his program.  We then set him up so the offer to code came from one of our own grad students.  When he paid for the code, he was dismissed from the university.

I don’t think that anyone would debate that paying someone else to do an assignment for them is wrong.

There are lots of ways to being caught contract cheating, but paying someone is one of the worst (I wonder if the student got his money back?).

I think that the penalty, in this case, sends out the right message. What do you think?

How To Get A Complete University Education For Free?

If you’ve ever wanted to study a university level subject, but have been put off by the cost, there are now alternatives out there. And, many of these are supported by well known higher education brands and offer access to lectures and other materials for free.

iTunes U has been around for a while now and provides access to content from the likes of Oxford, Stanford and Yale. It’s a reworking of an old iTunes concept where lecture recordings could be made available through iTunes.

iTunes U packages up the content in a neat app (ideally accessed through an iPad), potentially providing a better learning experience. It’s possible to access archived content, or to sign up to follow courses along live (often the same ones that real students are paying for at those institutions).

Coursera is a newer competitor in the free education marketplace and supported by universities including Princeton. The courses are differentiated from those on iTunes U by largely being created exclusively for the site (of course, these often repurpose content that an educator would already be using with their own students).

The Coursera subjects tend to be shorter than those on iTunes U (6 to 8 weeks are common) and rely more on students following on along live with the course. Many of these have areas where support is available (either through the tutor, or peer support with other students). There can also be assignments and certificates awarded for completion.

The big disadvantage for both of these types of courses is that they do not carry university credit. So, they don’t offer an alternative to attending a university where a recognised qualification is needed. However, for many people, particularly visual learners, this disadvantage will be outweighed by the free nature of the resources.

For potential Computer Science students, these can offer a method to get familiar with supports prior to the start of a course. They also allow students to cover areas which are not included in their course (no Computer Science course can cover everything), which can offer an advantage in the job marketplace. They may also be useful to students looking to expand into a new area for a Final Year Undergraduate Computing Project.

Current Computer Science students may also find these useful, as they can offer an alternative way to approach different subjects which they are currently studying. The different presentation styles and examples can help students who find a particular subject difficult, or can help to stretch students who want to develop more advanced skills in a particular subject.

Computer Science tuition is well represented on Courses A. Some of the upcoming courses offered include such staples such as algorithms, logic, compilers, human computer interaction and artificial intelligence. There are also novel areas available, such as web intelligence and social network analysis, as well as the opportunity to pursue areas of personal interest, such as Internet history and e-learning.

When added to the different subjects available through iTunes U, these resources are worthy of a full exploration.

The Best Way To Take Notes At Conferences And Workshops?

When attending an academic conference or workshop, it’s always useful to take notes. There might be some good ideas shared during the workshop which don’t exist on slides circulated afterwards (often the case during discussions). And, it’s unlikely that sessions will be recorded (and that you’ll have time to watch them).

But, too often notes end up being hastily scribbled down or not referred to again.

What many events are now doing is encouraging notes to be taken and shared using social media (and tablet devices, smart phones and laptops).

For instance, a workshop I was recently involved with ended up with both Twitter and Facebook discussions (here are some examples of what was recorded on social media during the event).

In this case, the Facebook discussions took place in a Facebook group.

The Twitter discussions all used a consistent hash tag.

Both of these were set up quite independently, and so led to quite different types of discussions.

There are a lot of benefits of an approach like this to people organising (and funding) the events, particularly in the increase in visibility. In both cases, people interested, but who could not attend, joined in the discussion.

The discussion created inside the event itself is also useful, particularly where delegates pick up on similar points, engage in virtual discussion and retweet. The permanent and immediate record of the event is useful for both delegates and organisers too.

There are also criticisms to this approach. One I’ve heard is that it creates two classes of delegates – those who are involved in social media and those who are not. But, this certainly doesn’t preclude people keeping their own paper and private notes.

One way I saw this used well at a recent conference was having a blogger who was monitoring the social media channels for post ideas. That created a permanent record of what was going on to add to the (sometimes hard to find at a later date) social media discussions.

I also know of academics who use a similar approach in class, encouraging students to take and share notes using social media – something which I may well try myself over the coming year.

 

How does this approach work for you? Is electronic note taking at events useful? Just use the Comment box to share your thoughts.

Plagiarism Indicators For Academics

All academics, regardless of the level of the student, need to be aware that some students may take short cuts when producing academic work.

These slides (from my SlideShare account) outline five different indicators that work submitted may not all be the student’s own.

 

Many times, what you find when marking work will just be an indicator that something is out of place. This can lead to a more thorough search by hand.

TurnItIn, and other similar tools, are excellent as starting points, but often a specific Google search can identify parts of the web that are hidden to TurnItIn, so this approach is particularly useful.

 

What other indicators do academics use? Have you found any interesting plagiarism cases using indicators? Use the Comments box to share your findings.

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