Here’s the second of my irregular round-ups of the academic and research blogosphere. You can find the first one here.
I’ve picked a range of topics for this one, but all of them are linked to the concept of communication. Communicating research effectively and clearly to bid reviewers and the general public is an important part of a researcher’s life, and policies on open access publication and impact emphasise that importance funders ascribe to this topic.
Adam Golberg gets us started with an excellent post full of helpful advice about how to respond to the dreaded referees’ comments:
If the funding body offers you the option of a response, you should consider your response as one of the most important parts of the application process. A good response can draw the sting from criticisms, emphasise the positive comments, and enhance your chances of getting funding. A bad one can doom your application.
Preparing a response is not about comprehensively refuting every criticism, or establishing intellectual superiority over the referees. You need to sift the comments to identify the ones that really matter. What are the criticisms (or backhanded compliments) that will harm your cause? Highlight those and answer them methodically. Petty argy-bargy isn’t worth spending your time on.
Most importantly, if you get the opportunity to respond to reviewer comments you must take it! A lack of response can have a greater negative impact than a poorly constructed one.
Impact and the ERC
We hear lots about how important impact is to research funders, so it’s surprising and a little refreshing to hear that the President of the ERC has explicitly said it will not have a place in ERC. This is a good thing, suggests Phil Ward:
I’m not saying that impact is a useless cul de sac, or that it diverts academic time and energy from the task in hand. However, I do think that it is not appropriate for all research and all projects, and we shouldn’t have to try and shoehorn all research into impact’s glass slipper.
Nowotny should be applauded for taking a stand and allowing the ERC’s award holders the opportunity to breathe, to pursue research for research’s sake, and not to have to look over their shoulders at impact’s winged chariot hurrying near.
RCUK strengthen Open Access policy
Annalisa Jones at Lincoln reports that RCUK have strengthened their commitment to open access: it may soon be mandatory for all RCUK-funded research to be made freely available six months after publication (except AHRC and ESRC-funded research):
Some other areas where the existing policy, implemented in 2006, is strengthened are:
– the defining of specific conditions for OA journals to be recognised by the Research Councils as ‘Open Access Policy Compliant’
– the stipulation that the version of an article to be deposited in OA repositories is the final author version that is ‘accepted for publication’ (i.e. with all corrections and changes made as a result of peer review)
– the Research Councils will no longer accept embargo periods imposed by publishers, but instead stipulate an embargo period of no more than 6 months except in the case of humanities and social sciences
Mark Blyth on communicating your research to the public
Finally the LSE impact blog interviews Mark Blyth, who promoted ideas behind his book “Austerity: the History of a Dangerous Idea” through a series of short video clips. Mark is serious about public engagement: “if an idea cannot be expressed in five minutes it’s probably not worth saying”
The two core ideas of the video (and the book) – that you can’t cure debt with more debt – and – that while any one state can cut its way to prosperity it can’t work if they all do it at the same time – are technically known as ‘trying to fix a solvency problem with a liquidity instrument’ and ‘a fallacy of composition.’ Start by posing the problem in that language and its dead to anyone who is not an expert in the debate already. Turn it into things people can understand, let go of the academese, and people will engage. The video was posted first on YouTube and was then massively reposted by Facebook. I got fan mail and hate mail from all over the world. If you want impact this is how to do it. The old days of doing an edited volume with your mates and publishing it a year and half later as ‘impact’ is increasingly a dead model in an era of social media.