It has been a great year for the Impact of Social Sciences blog and we look forward to the exciting times ahead – particularly with the launch of our Research Book next month! But it wouldn’t be the new year without a look back in list-form. We will be featuring a series of posts over the next week highlighting the variety of topics we were able to cover in 2013. But first, here are the overall five posts that proved to be our most popular pieces across all themes and categories.
It is an increasingly difficult time to begin an academic career. The pressures of the REF, casualization and adjunctification of teaching and the disappearance of research funding are enormous obstacles academics face. Sydney Calkin looks at how academics have in many ways become model neoliberal subjects. How might we effectively challenge the growing acceptance of the unpaid, underpaid, zero hours work within universities?
Presentation boredom can be a significant barrier to academic communication. Ned Potter provides guidance on the strengths and weaknesses of Prezi as a fresh approach to the PowerPoint doldrums. Prezi favours a non-linear format which also allows for more self-guided autonomy for viewers. But Prezi isn’t brilliant for accessibility and the whizzy technology can interfere with what you’re trying to say. Helpful tips are provided on how to get the most out of the interactive features.
Academic systems rely on the existence of a supply of “outsiders” ready to forgo wages and employment security in exchange for the prospect of uncertain security, prestige, freedom and reasonably high salaries that tenured positions entail. Drawing on data from the US, Germany and the UK, Alexandre Afonso looks at how the academic job market is structured in many respects like a drug gang, with an expanding mass of outsiders and a shrinking core of insiders.
Digital media is changing how scholars interact, collaborate, write and publish. Here, Jessie Daniels describes how to be a scholar now, when peer-reviewed articles can begin as Tweets and blog posts. In this new environment, scholars are able to create knowledge in ways that are more open, more fluid, and more easily read by wider audiences.
Social media outlets are becoming essential for academia, not just for the promotion of research but for research development as well. Andy Miah provides an overview of his top picks for the social media newbie and argues that if used well, these platforms will allow academics to digest more content, more quickly. We must figure out how to use social media in a way that enriches academic working life, but in a way that also provides some added value.
Our time is increasingly being spent in front of a computer screen. Transitioning to a fully paperless setup may require some changes to efficient working ways. Nick Blackbourn provides advice for setting up your computer for heavy duty on-screen reading. He offers tips here on how to cut out the fluff and focus on core texts, navigate PDFs, and reduce eye strain from screen glare.
With all the demands of academia, becoming an active curator on Twitter may sound appealing but just too onerous a task. To help ease such anxiety, Allan Johnson shares his own Twitter workflow and suggests several tools and apps, such as Pocket and Buffer, to help academics make the most of their valuable time in contributing and curating content.
One year after starting his Mainly Macro blog, Simon Wren-Lewis discusses the value of academic blogging. He finds that blogging has improved his teaching and helped him clarify his ideas.
Anne Bergen, Gavan Watson and Caitlin Holton explore the relationship between academic data management and knowledge mobilization through the use of Evernote, the popular personal note-taking software. Evernote can be used for both sharing and storing information and can support and contribute to academic productivity and improved knowledge management practices.
The popular Twitter hashtag #overlyhonestmethods reveals the widespread interest in methodological reflexivity. Jen Tarr reflects on the overt critique of scientific objectivity and argues good social scientific practice should be about acknowledging the weaknesses of methods to improve practice and to reassure novice researchers that real world research often is messy. Furthermore, we need more space in mainstream journals for over-honesty and the discussion of real methodological practices.
There is growing concern that the contentious journal impact factor is being used by universities as a proxy measure for research assessment. In light of this and the wider REF2014 exercise, Dorothy Bishop believes we need a more transparent, fair and cost-effective method for distributing funding to universities than the REF approach allows. A bibliometric measure such as a departmental H-index to rank departments would be a better suited and more practical solution.
Though originally developed as a way to share and merge software code, any types of files can be part of a GitHub repository, making it a great collaborative tool for academics, finds Kris Shaffer. Since any open-licensed project can be hosted on GitHub for free, it can function as a publishing platform, a peer-review system, a learning management tool, and a locus for intra- and inter-institutional collaboration.
By using the social web to convey both scholarly and public attention of research outputs, altmetrics offer a much richer picture than traditional metrics based on exclusive citation database information. Pat Loria compares the new metrics services and argues that as more systems incorporate altmetrics into their platforms, institutions will benefit from creating an impact management system to interpret these metrics, pulling in information from research managers, ICT and systems staff, and those creating the research impact.