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Academic Research in the 21st Century: Maintaining Scientific Integrity in a Climate of Perverse Incentives and Hypercompetition
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Over the last 50 years, we argue that incentives for academic scientists have become increasingly perverse in terms of competition for research funding, development of quantitative metrics to measure performance, and a changing business model for higher education itself. Furthermore, decreased discretionary funding at the federal and state level is creating a hypercompetitive environment between government agencies (e.g., EPA, NIH, CDC), for scientists in these agencies, and for academics seeking funding from all sources—the combination of perverse incentives and decreased funding increases pressures that can lead to unethical behavior. If a critical mass of scientists become untrustworthy, a tipping point is possible in which the scientific enterprise itself becomes inherently corrupt and public trust is lost, risking a new dark age with devastating consequences to humanity. Academia and federal agencies should better support science as a public good, and incentivize altruistic and ethical outcomes, while de-emphasizing output.

Subject:
Higher Education
Material Type:
Reading
Author:
Marc A. Edwards
Siddhartha Roy
Date Added:
08/08/2020
Avoiding Predatory Journals and Questionable Conferences
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CC BY-NC-ND
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Purpose: The goal of this guide is to provide a clear overview of the topics of predatory journals and questionable conferences and advice on how to avoid them. This guide intentionally adopts a plain language approach to ensure it is accessible to readers with a variety English language proficiency levels. Methods: Electronic searches were conducted manually using Google and Google Scholar, along with a search of the University of Calgary library research databases. Search terms included predatory journals, predatory publisher, predatory conference, questionable conference and vanity conference. Three primary types of sources informed this report: (1) scholarly peer-reviewed articles; (2) reputable popular media such as established newspapers; and (3) grey literature such as blogs written by experts and scholars. Findings: Plain-language overviews of predatory publications and questionable conferences are provided to help researchers understand what these are and how to avoid them. A discussion of how to figure out where an aspiring author should publish their work is included, as well as a checklist for determining if a conference is worth the prospective presenter’s time and resources. Implications: There are implications for mentors of graduate students and early-career stage academics, as well as for institutions as a whole. The issue of questionable conferences and publications is so complex that early-stage academics require support and mentorship to cultivate a deeper understanding of how to share their work in a credible way. Additional materials: Contains 66 references and 2 tables.

Subject:
Higher Education
Material Type:
Reading
Provider:
University of Calgary
Author:
Sarah Elaine Eaton
Date Added:
01/09/2018
Discrimination and Collaboration in Science
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We use game theoretic models to take an in-depth look at the dynamics of discrimination and academic collaboration. We find that in collaboration networks, small minority groups may be more likely to end up being discriminated against while collaborating. We also find that discrimination can lead members of different social groups to mostly collaborate with in-group members, decreasing the effective diversity of the social network. Drawing on previous work, we discuss how decreases in the diversity of scientific collaborations might negatively impact the progress of epistemic communities.

Subject:
Social Science
Material Type:
Reading
Author:
Cailin O'Connor
Hannah Rubin
Date Added:
11/13/2020
A Guide for Doctoral Students and Junior Faculty Members in the Behavioral and Social Sciences
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Life in academia is like life in no other profession. The intellectual freedom in conducting research coupled with the ability to positively impact the lives of students through teaching makes it exciting and noble. The road to success in making a difference through knowledge creation (research), knowledge dissemination (teaching) and activities related to both (service) is riddled with many challenges. While PhD programs are designed to teach students the nitty gritty details of conducting research, few focus on the broad issues of how to build a successful research program, how to build an effective teaching portfolio and how to do deal with the many other challenges encountered. Navigating the broader challenges of academia is often accomplished by trial-and-error or ad-hoc mentoring one may receive. Road to Success: A Guide for Doctoral Students and Junior Faculty Members in the Behavioral and Social Sciences by Viswanath Venkatesh provides advice and tools, seeks to help researchers achieve success by navigating through these very challenges.

Tell us how you are using this book If you are a graduate student or prospective graduate student, a course instructor, a scholar conducting research, or another reader please complete the form at https://bit.ly/roadtosuccess_interest

Available formats:
Paperback (ISBN:978-1-949373-73-8)
PDF (ISBN: 978-1-949373-74-5)

The book comprises 20 chapters that are organized into five major sections:
1. Research
2. Managing the PhD program
3. Life after the PhD
4. Teaching and service
5. Broader advice

In addition to the author, both junior and senior scholars have provided contributions to share their own experiences and observations of others who have been successful.

The most important components of the book are the various tools (e.g., how-to advice, checklists) that are provided to help junior researchers head up the road to success and to arm senior researchers to guide junior researchers along the way. The various tools target the following six areas:
1. Building and sustaining a research program
2. Writing a paper
3. Responding to reviews
4. Planning and monitoring through various stages of the PhD program
5. Becoming an effective teacher
6. Achieving work-life balance

About the author:
Viswanath Venkatesh is Verizon Chair of Information Technology at the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. Please visit http://www.vvenkatesh.com for more information.

Accessibility note:
Virginia Tech Publishing is committed to making its publications accessible in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The screen reader-friendly PDF utilizes header structures and includes alternative text which allows for machine-readability.

Subject:
Higher Education
Material Type:
Textbook
Provider:
Virginia Tech
Provider Set:
VTech Works
Author:
Viswanath Venkatesh
Date Added:
10/07/2021
A People’s History of Structural Racism in Academia: From A(dministration of Justice) to Z(oology)
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CC BY
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The contents of this book were developed under an Open Textbooks Pilot grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

Subject:
Higher Education
Material Type:
Textbook
Author:
Dahmitra Jackson
Prateek Sunder
Susan Rahman
Date Added:
11/14/2022
Why Too Many Political Science Findings Cannot Be Trusted and What We Can Do About It: A Review of Meta-Scientific Research and a Call for Academic Reform
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Witnessing the ongoing “credibility revolutions” in other disciplines, political science should also engage in meta-scientific introspection. Theoretically, this commentary describes why scientists in academia’s current incentive system work against their self-interest if they prioritize research credibility. Empirically, a comprehensive review of meta-scientific research with a focus on quantitative political science demonstrates that threats to the credibility of political science findings are systematic and real. Yet, the review also shows the discipline’s recent progress toward more credible research. The commentary proposes specific institutional changes to better align individual researcher rationality with the collective good of verifiable, robust, and valid scientific results.

Subject:
Political Science
Material Type:
Reading
Author:
Alexander Wuttke
Date Added:
08/08/2020