Category: "University / Academia"
Let’s celebrate and promote open access to academic research! It’s Open Access Week!
There hasn’t been much publicity around this event here in Norway, not in the anthro-blogosphere either.
So, to start with, here some videos!
Here’s a quick, simple and funny introduction to the concept of open access in universities by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries and McGill University Library.
A very interesting interview with Vincent Gerbaud (University of Toulouse) about his motivation to publish his papers online in public repositories and his experiences
Several Open Access scholars and editors discuss the benefits of open access publishing
The London School Economics has made a nice contribution - the Open Access Week awards.
One of the awards went to anthropologist Deborah James. She has written the most downloaded book chapter in 2009/10: ‘I dress in this fashion’ transformations in sotho dress and women’s lives in a Sekhukhuneland village, South Africa (1996).
The lucky winner of The Departmental award for most improved full text deposit is the Department of International Development, who saw an increase from less than 3 full text open access papers per member of staff in 2008/09, up to 8 per member of staff in 2009/10.
The London School of Economics has an impressive number of anthropology publications in its online repository, but most of them cannot be downloaded, and open access articles are not highlighted.
See also a guest post from the Open Access week 2009: Anthropologists ignore Open Access Week - a report from Wellington and check antropologi.info’s overview over open access anthropology journals
The first issue of the Popular Anthropology Magazine is out. It was meant to bridge the gap between academia and the public and between anthropologists and continents. Cool, we needed that. But the result is - in my opinion - disappointing. For it was made with outdated paper journals as ideal. The editors were thinking paper, not web. They do provide a downloadable version on their website but the flash animated paper-look-like version is a pain to navigate and read (the automatic scrolling is very irritating).
I finally tried to download the whole journal. It took ages and Firefox was about to crash. When the file finally was saved, it turned out to be 151 MB heavy. The pdf consisted of image files! Which means it is partly hard to read and you cannot copy and paste its content, and the links are not clickable. Fail! Can’t anthropologists do better? The articles deserve better. The table of contents looks promising, especially the sections on social science around the world.
My post Pecha Kucha - the future of presenting papers? received much attention and inspired others to arrange such sessions where papers are not read but presented through 20 images displayed for 20 seconds each. But I’m no longer sure if I would recommend Pecha Kucha after having received this email a few days ago:
To Lorenz Khazaleh,
This is Jean from PechaKucha HQ here in Tokyo. It has come to our attention that you recently organized a PechaKucha event without our consent.
The PechaKucha name, logo, and format are all trademarked concepts, and as we clearly indicate on our site, we ask that anyone who is interested in running a PK event get in touch, as we have a review and agreement process that we go through.
We do support one-off events as well, but again, they are all officially sanction.
We hope to hear back from you very shortly to prevent this from happening again.
founded by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham in Tokyo
I first couldn’t believe what I read. A review and agreement process? Trademarking an idea? Is there a dubious commercial corporation behind Pecha Kucha? (And apart from that - I did not arrange a PK session, but only interviewed two participants.)
As I learnt on their website, you will need to go through a lot of bureaucracy, especially if you intend to arrange Pecha Kucha Nights. You’ll have to meet a lot of requirements and be prepared for providing lots of details about yourself and your team.
As we are now inundated with similar requests from across the world, we would love to know more about you!!! - your design background, design connections, events experience, ideas about venues, designers you would approach to present their work etc….Once we receive [your background/plans] we can review everything and get back in touch! KDa own the Registered Trademark for Pecha Kucha Night, 20 x 20 in the UK, Europe and US and if we decide to proceed we can provide you with the logos, templates and formats and our standard handshake agreement in order for you to get started!
As the Pecha Kuchs trademark owners explain on their website, they “sometimes say yes and sometimes say no - so be prepared for both answers". And normally it takes them “a month or so” to grant PKN “handshake” agreements.
Nevertheless, the Pecha Kucha format is great. So the best thing might be to call it something different, like speed presentations or so, a term that Greg Downey introduced last year at Neuroanthropology.net, create your own logos etc Good luck!
See also Greg Downey’s brilliant round-up Thoughts on Conference Organizing
UPDATE First reaction on this post: Marc Oehlert: Pech* Kuch* (evidently Japanese for “full of yourself"). He analyses and comments the Pecha Kucha website more thouroughly than I did and has already received lots of comments! Great post!
It started around 20 years ago: The idea of education as a right was being replaced by a concept of education as a commodity to purchase. Today’s universities are managed like businesses, striving for “excellence", being best, competing for the “best” brains with new logos and slogans like The University of Manchester is pioneering, influential and exciting.
What are the consequences of the focus on competition instead of cooperation, quantity instead of quality, bureaucratic control instead of academic freedom and what can be done about it?
In the new issue of the journal New Proposals, anthropologist Charles R. Menzies writes about the recent developments from his personal experience and explains why the commercialisation also created a space for progressive action.
The search for excellence structures all aspects of the contemporary university environment, he writes:
In its operational mode excellence is little more than a set of quantified indictors—dollar value of grants, number of publications, ranking of publication venue, completion rates of students, and so on. These indicators are tabulated by individual, unit, or university and then ranked accordingly. Deriving from the tautological market principle that those who win are bydefinition excellent, being top ranked makes one excellent. (…) Our work becomes measured by quantity and placement of output: “so long as one publishes with the prestigious academic presses and journals, one’s publications are ‘excellent’” (Wang 2005:535)
Academics in the university of excellence are expected to win grants and publish papers. In this they have a lot of autonomy. For as long as academics in the university of excellence maintain their productivity at the rate being set by their colleagues a limited social space is opened up for progressive activity. He writes that he often says to his students: “Yes we must publish, but we get to choose what we publish”:
For me this has led to a series of articles and films on research methods (2005, 2004, 2003, 2001a) in place of what I may have originally wished to publish. This shift reflects my concern for conducting ethical research and to resist the undue influence of the competitive drive to publish as much as one can. To me, a respectful research engagement means that one takes the time to consult and to work with the people about whom we write. Some researchers, lost in the competitive rush to publish, prioritize their own advancement and desires over the people about whom they write.
He suggests following research topics:
- What are the effects of global capitalism on people’s health and wellbeing?
- How have local/ trans-national elites have gained control over public institutions such as the university of excellence?
- How can we make democratic practice real and what does our knowledge of small-scale societies tell us about the possibility of true participatory democracy?
Interestingly, the recent issue of the journal Social Anthropology deals with the same topic. And the whole issue is available for free.
In their introduction, Susan Wright and Annika Rabo explain the background for the current reforms:
The current wave of reforms anchors both the global north and south in the so-called global knowledge economy where higher education is universally perceived as increasingly crucial for economic development. In today’s political discourse there is less emphasis on higher education as a public right and a means to liberate and cultivate citizens. Higher education occupies centre stage in the discourse on the global knowledge economy because ‘knowledge is treated as a raw material’ (Slaughter and Rhoades 2004:17). Universities are thus sites for both the mining and the refining of this resource.
A second strand in the international policies for university reform derives from the argument that universities are no longer just servicing the economy: now educating international students is itself a lucrative trade. American, British and Australian universities are especially competitive in this global market, and foreign students are Australia’s third most important source of export earnings.
The reforms represent also a “new rationality of governance".
Such reforms involve changing the status of service providers (including universities in many parts of Europe) so that they are no longer part of the state bureaucracy, but are turned into ‘autonomous’ agents, with whom the state can enter into contracts, and through which they are held ‘accountable’ for their performance. In many countries, universities are being treated as a service supplier, just like any other part of the public sector.
What we need is more anthropology of university reform:
As the contributions to this special issue show, an anthropologist’s view of the ‘field’ can combine a critical examination of the keywords, policy discourses and rationalities of governance, with an exploration of how political technologies like accountability mechanisms, performance measurement, and customers satisfaction surveys actually work in practice, with accounts of students’, academics’ and sometimes managers’ diverse ideas of the university and how they act to shape their institution in their daily life.
(A)cademics seem not yet to have reformulated their values and modes of organising into a forward-looking vision for universities. There are plenty of contradictions in the reform agenda that could be exploited to this purpose. For example, why do governments imagine that by creating top-down steered, coherent organisations with a hierarchy of autonomous and strategic leaders they are preparing universities for a knowledge economy? Just to be provocative (and ironic, as we can also see negative sides to this image), why not imagine a future university by drawing on some positive aspects of companies which recognise that their biggest resource is the ideas, imagination and ability of the workers, and where staff take responsibility for their own work, have a weekly ‘free research’ day, and follow their own initiatives through networks of colleagues and short-term project teams in their own institution and internationally? Why not formulate an idea of a university as a kind of flexible, networking ‘knowledge organisation’?
In my opinion, an analysis of the language used in strategic documents would be interesting. Take for example a look at the Consultation document for University of Oslo’s strategy 2010–2020 where we read about universities’ “ role as a growth instigator in the local and global economy” . But a look at the table of contents is enough where we find a list of some of the main goals like “ A quality‐conscious university", “ A ground breaking university” and (being) “The epitome of a good university".
By the way, just a few hours ago, Chris Kelty has written a post at Savage Minds about the new “Stasi like” culture of control at The Department of Anthropology at UC Berkeley
(UPDATE: See Beware: No Pecha Kucha allowed without consent from Tokyo) Why reading your paper when there are lot more exciting ways of presenting your research? I have asked Aleksandra Bartoszko and Marcy Hessling to tell us about their experience with a recent experiment at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association last december.
They attended a panel where papers were not read but presented via 20 images that were displayed for 20 seconds each. After 6 minutes and 40 seconds the show is over and the discussion can begin.
This way of presenting is getting more and more popular around the world and is called Pecha Kucha.
Pecha Kucha presentations might take more preparation time, but presentations are more focused, there is more discussion as when people want to hear more after 6 min 40 sec, “they will just open their mouth and ask". According to Aleksandra Bartoszko Pecha Kucha style presentations might also be a great way to present anthropology to the non-anthropological public.
“It was the first time ever I was totally focused on all the presentations during the whole session", Aleksandra Bartoszko writes enthusiastically:
It was the first time ever I was totally focused on all the presentations during the whole session:
1) because of the REAL time limit,
2) because of the power point presentations NOT being a text,
3) because of the lack of WRITTEN style of the presentation, the oral style is almost required in this format and in a way natural,
4) because of the lack of word overflow - presentations really to the point,
5) because of the time left for the discussion (real or potential, but still, there is time for that).
I did enjoy this format because:
1) because of the lack of fluency in English I’m not too good in oral presentations, and because of the 20 seconds per slide (in my understanding of the idea, 20 sec per point) it was easier to present something in more “digestible” way to the audience. And because of the pictures, there was a lot of things/descriptions I could just skip.
2) because of the time limit, I really had to think what was the main point I wanted to address to the audience - NOT everything that I had discovered and would like to share with (this is just not working). This time limit is also a good lesson of modesty and self-criticism. I think that this is also a good way to MAKE PEOPLE DISCUSS - I think that usually when “unfortunately we have time for just one short question or comment” most of the people do not want to be the one who talk or “steal” this question, they pull out, especially young scholars. While during an 1 hour discussion more and more people get involved.
Anyway, when I’m done in 6,40 mins and people want to hear more, they will just open their mouth and ask. I think that academia does lack the culture of speaking, talking and discussing. Yes, I do think so :) So, I am for more active meetings.. people are getting so lazy sometimes, both the presenters and the audience.
3) Also, and paradoxically, because of the language issue I prefer the discussion part to the paper. I am just not able to speak so naturally having a paper, and I don’t like the way I usually present (in spite of the fact that this is a tradition etc. It’s just not fun at all, and I guess that most of the participants of the conferences agree, they are just too lazy not to read the excerpts of their books etc). So, that is why I do appreciate every single minute left for a discussion. I believe that any other session I attended could work in this way and the discussion would be great and more fruitful than usually.
4) after fieldwork we have so many photos that never will be used. And I think it is so valuable to see other “fields", other people in work, their “photographical” perspectives, we can learn so much. And I do feel sorry for all those picures stored in our offices, apartments, old albums which will never be used, maybe one of them for a cover to some book, or a nostalgic wallpaper on our laptops.. I don’t know, I just think that the places and people deserve to be seen once they are “captured".
5) this is a great way to present anthropology to the non-anthropological public, to present our results in an understandable but still scientifical manner. Most of the anthropologists (like many other disciplines) just do not know how to speak about anthropology and our work, so it is a good way to start. As one of the participants said “this is the way I can explain my parents what I am doing".
Marcy Hessling organized the Pecha Kucha session. I asked her a few questions:
How was the session? Did you like it? What did the others say?
- I think that the Pecha Kucha format was quite a success at the meeting. I enjoyed presenting, and I am fairly certain the other participants did too. It does take a lot of preparation in advance, which is surprising to some because of the shorter presentation time. But when you just have 6 minutes and 40 seconds to utilize, it is important to be succinct and focus fairly narrowly on a specific issue or topic. And it is also quite a challenge to choose the 20 more relevant, and yet at the same time visually compelling, images.
Why did you decide to organize a Pecha Kucha session?
- I first heard about the Pecha Kucha format a few years ago (probably in 2007, I think or in early 2008) when I saw a Call For Papers for a student conference that was going to be held somewhere overseas. Possibly in Japan. It sounded like a great way for students to present their work. First, because students are generally quite technologically savvy, and second, because students are typically working through aspects of being in the field or creating a project. This format is very audience-interactive (at the end) so it is a way to get some feedback too.
Pecha Kucha means 20 slides a 20 sec. How important is it to follow the rules? Is it ok to use 10 slides a 30 seconds?
- The way I understood the format is that it is important to stay within the 6 min 40 second time limit, and that generally most people do 20 slides for 20 seconds per slide. However, I have heard of some people doing a 6 min 40 second movie too. So I think it depends on the organizers.
Was it easy to motivate people to take part in this Pecha Kucha session?
- There were quite a few people who were initially interested in this format, but it does take a commitment to do the preparation in advance. We had a visual anthropologist act as our discussant, and I really wanted to get the presentations to her in advance of the meeting so that she could speak to them in her comments. She was very impressed with the format, and with the quality of work that the participants brought in.
Will there be another Pecha Kucha session at the next AAA meeting?
- I am not sure if there will be another Pecha Kucha presentation at the 2010 AAA meeting, it depends on the current program chair, and the individual section program editors. I hope that it does continue.
How do these presentations look like? Here are two presentations you can download:
Here are the abstracts and infos about the session (pdf, 78kb).
Aleksandra Bartoszko has written more about her research in her field blog Antropyton (which I found was one of the best field blogs I’ve read). She edited the open access e-book The Patient that includes her article “I’m not sick, I just have pain”: Silence and (Under) Communication of Illness in a Nicaraguan Village. Norwegian readers can download her thesis Vi er ikke dumme, vi er fattige!
Om vitenskap, eksperter, utdanning og barrierer for folkelig deltakelse i en nicaraguansk landsby
And here is a Pecha Kucha presentation about Pecha Kucha
There is a large collection of videos over at www.pecha-kucha.org
AQWorks has made a Guide To Better Pecha Kucha Presentations
Last summer, neuroanthropology had an interesting post about speed presentations.
Thanks Fredy R. Rodriguez Mejia, Marcy Hessling and Aleksandra Bartoszko for your contributions!
UPDATE: It seems there will be similar experiments at the next AAA meeting as well! The AAA blog mentions this post about Pecha Kucha and asks for contributions:
Are you interested in creating a session or special event in an innovative format for the 2010 AAA meeting? Do you want to organize a service activity, walking tour, or an unconference to complement the meeting? Email your ideas to aaaprogramchair [at] gmail.com or aaameetings [at] aaanet.org.
UPDATE 2: Yes, there will be another Pecha Kucha session. See AAA 2010 New Orleans - Call for Abstracts - Graduate Pecha Kucha Session
What’s the point of science if it’s not publicly accessible? Two weeks ago, the first global Open Access Week was organized. Masters’ student in anthropology Karstein Noremark has written a report for antropologi.info about the Open Access Week at Victoria University of Wellington.
In his opinion, especially anthropologists should be interested in making research available online. But he did not see any anthropologists at the Open Access Week seminars. There was a general lack of interest among academics. Many of the attendants were library staff. He hopes more students will get involved in the Open Access movement – as future researchers, as end-users, and as a group that is in a unique position to advocate for the ‘rights to research’ of students in poorer countries.
Here is his report:
A small report from Open Access Week at Victoria University of Wellington
(including a critical note on anthropological engagement)
By Karstein Noremark - karsteinn (AT) gmail.com -
Victoria was the only university in New Zealand to (officially) celebrate Open Access Week, and the five days at Victoria covered an impressive broad range of subjects: workshops on Creative Commons licences and Open Access publishing, a web conference on Open Education with Wayne Mackintosh from WikiEducator, an institutional repositories roundtable, and, on top of this, a seminar on “Net Neutrality.” (More information on the various seminars can be found here).
The person behind most of the organising was Sigi Jöttkandt from Open Humanities Press. During the week, she also introduced the attendants to an open source publishing tool that can be used to create Open Access journals. An informative seminar on copyright and licences provided an introduction to various legal tools for Open Access, and in the spirit of the week, this seminar is also available as a webcast (get ogg player).
Still a room for professional publishers?
One of the more exciting topics during the week was the workshop on Open Access publishing. Interestingly enough, a representative from the ‘business’ – Fergus Barrowman from Victoria University Press – had agreed to sit in the panel. Barrowman gave a face to Open Access publishing that is often overlooked: the implication for publishers who are interested in Open Access, but who are not sure how to get involved. He gave an account of the realities that publishers face, the cost of publishing, the problems with ‘unprofitable’ Open Access models for publishing, and all the work that actually goes in to the publication of a text. As he told us, “we also like to get paid for our labour.”
Although Barrowman saw Open Access was “the right way forward,” he also told us that publishers would not embrace Open Access until a profitable business model was in place. Barrowman’s speech spurred a discussion around the themes of publishing and self-publishing, especially on the ‘craft’ side of publishing and how this knowledge could become lost in a transition to online publishing and Open Access. Most of the attendants agreed that there should still be room for professional publishers, but that more individual freedom was needed, especially for academics, whose access to specific articles might be crucial for their work.
All in all, the seminar was interesting, and had an edge to it, given that there were different stakeholders present (all honour to Barrowman for attending such a conference, and showing that he had given consideration to Open Access). I for one, who had come to the seminar with ideas about ‘evil publishers’ left with a more nuanced view on the publishing business – still thinking that a change was needed, but also with a feeling that ‘change’ does not just mean replacing ‘the old’ altogether. Of course, a webcast is also available for this seminar.
There did not seem to be any anthropologists at the seminars (although, there could have been some – I am not a student here myself). In fact, there seemed to be a general lack of academic interest altogether; many of the attendants were library staff, worked in digital repositories, or (like me) had an interest in Open Access as a ‘phenomenon’.
An example might reflect the awareness of some anthropologists of Open Access.
Roughly one week before the OA Week, I attended an anthropology student seminar held at Victoria. In the seminar, one of the lecturers from the university talked about her experiences from an international anthropology conference, complaining about the ‘elitism’ that she saw in much of the discipline.
I felt like I should make a comment to her presentation, and asked if Open Access could not be a way for anthropology to overcome ‘elitist tendencies’, by making texts and research more publicly accessible. She did not seem to understand what I was talking about (I am not sure if she didn’t know about OA, or just didn’t have an opinion on the topic), and wandered off on a metaphorical detour before resuming her complaints of the seemingly unbridgable ‘gap’ between ideal and practice in anthropology.
I started to think: which discipline should have vested interests in promoting and understanding Open Access if not anthropology, whose practitioners are constantly drawing on other fields of study, complains about not getting their message through, and maintain linkages to a number of academics in poorer countries where access to high quality articles is, to put it mildly, limited. And yet, many anthropologists seem more content to focus on a critique of existing ‘knowledge systems’ rather than looking for promising alternatives to this situation.
A student movement?
Open Access has become associated with a student movement (at least in the USA), but where were the students here in New Zealand?
I am currently writing an article on Open Access for a Norwegian anthropology student magazine called Kula Kula, and comparing my experiences from New Zealand to those of Norway. It might seem as though a lack of student involvement is related to the degree of institutionalisation that Open Access has been subjected to in both countries.
In Norway, the Research Council has agreed to sign the Berlin Declaration, and the University of Bergen has followed up by trying to persuade their researchers to make articles available in online repositories and Open Access journals. Still, ‘recommendations’ might be a far cry from actual implementation (article in Norwegian / English translation by Google).
A ‘technical’ approach to Open Access seems to have taken over an initiative that might otherwise have come from students – as future researchers, as end-users, and as a group that is in a unique position to advocate for the ‘rights to research’ of students in poorer countries.
In fear of violating a “wait and see – and then possibly write about it” attitude that is often taken to Open Access, I would urge more students to get involved. And more of them should come from anthropology.
The American Anthropological Association (AAA) and their publisher Wiley-Blackwell will be offering two months of free access to 10+ years of Anthrosource content during November and December 2009.
As a preview they invite us to view the Top 25 Anthrosource Articles of 2009 free of charge according to the AAA blog.
“It is our hope that this limited-time offer will encourage students and researchers from across the disciplines to discover anthropology’s rich legacy of scholarship as the study of humankind", the AAA writes.
The list of the Top 25 articles is interesting in itself. Here we find much stuff about islam, terrorism, genitical cutting, neoliberalism and human rights. A quite political list, in other words.
The number one hit is Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism and Its Others by Lila Abu-Lughod. The article was written in 2002 and “explores the ethics of the current ‘War on Terrorism’, asking whether anthropology, the discipline devoted to understanding and dealing with cultural difference, can provide us with critical purchase on the justifications made for American intervention in Afghanistan in terms of liberating, or saving, Afghan women".
Number 7 hit is by the way Working for the Federal Government: Anthropology Careers by Shirley J. Fiske that also addresses the topic military anthropology.
A very exciting list, I’d love to start reading right away. A great idea to showcase what’s happening within anthropology. Let’s hope this will be a permanent offer!
Today, ResearchGATE has launched a new Self-Archiving Repository. “This will make full-text articles available to the public, for free - the first application of its kind worldwide", ResearchGate claims in their press release:
Currently, there is no way for researchers to access millions of publications in their full version online. ResearchGATE is now changing this by enabling users to upload their published research directly to their profile pages (a system called the “green route” to Open Access).
ResearchGATE is not only a place to publish, but also a place to interact with other researchers. There are lots of features, looks interesting. The service is free and of course one is starting to wonder what the business modell is as it is not backed by universities or institutions: Will ResearchGATE end up like the anthropology repository Manao that after less two years in business went offline?
I asked Claudia Saalbach from ReseachGATE, and she confirmed that they “do not plan to charge the user for our service". But they “hope to get first revenue from our scientific job board, which was launched a week ago.”
ResearchGATE was launched in May last year and has already 140 000 members, among them several hundred anthropologists. I looked at some profiles, but it seems that you have to be a member to see all the details - a bit like facebook and less open than the profiles in the Open Anthropology
ResearchGate is not the first of its kind, see the posts at the Open Access Anthropology blog EduPunk Repositories and In Search of Anthropology-Friendly Subject Repositories.
Owen Wiltshire has followed the recent developments closely. In his most recent post, he offers his help to reopen Manao under a new name (“The Open Anthropology Self Archiving Repository”). Multiple universities should be invited to participate:
Libraries could contribute, and benefit from the openness, by contributing a little time to help catalog entries and ensure copyright issues are dealt with properly. This is important because almost every university is currently developing its own institutional self-archiving repository, and due to this a lot of work is being redone over and over. Institutional repositories are also important, but they also tend to suck for the very same reasons Mana’o did – they can never get enough manpower.
Open Access News is reporting regularily about repositories, some of the recent news are On sustainable funding for repositories, Report on libraries and repositories and A new model for OA repositories