Reading Digest (8-14 December)

Here’s a round up of various articles, posts and stories I came across in the past week:

On academic blogging

Inger Mewburn and Pat Thomson, considered by some to be among the top academic bloggers, present their views on the hows and whys of academic blogging. The blog post, which draws on their recently published paper on academic blogging, problematises questions such as “what will be the fate of academics who don’t make the time to blog or tweet?”

Many of our colleagues seem worried that blogging and being active on social media is yet another addition to their already heavy work regime. It’s an understandable fear, given that blogging is not readily countable in conventional academic performance metrics. But does blogging really have no place in conventional understandings of journal impact factors and citation rates.

Segregation advice withdrawn

Some good news: Universities UK have withdrawn previous advice that they had issued, where it was stated that it would be acceptable for universities segregate male and female members of the audience at the request of visiting lecturers. Academics like Richard Dawkins, and politicians such as Michael Gove had all voiced their strong opposition to the original guidance, which had aimed to accommodate external speakers from radical Islamic backgrounds.

Universities UK agrees entirely with the prime minister that universities should not enforce gender segregation on audiences at the request of guest speakers. However, where the gender segregation is voluntary, the law is unclear. We are working with our lawyers and the EHRC to clarify the position.

Boycotting the glamour journals

In other news, Nobel laureate Randy Schekman has announced that his lab will no longer submit papers to ‘luxury journals’ such as Nature, Cell and Science, on account of what he describes as the “toxic influence” that their editorial policies exert on the scientific process. In his words:

These journals aggressively curate their brands, in ways more conducive to selling subscriptions than to stimulating the most important research. Like fashion designers who create limited-edition handbags or suits, they know scarcity stokes demand, so they artificially restrict the number of papers they accept.

La Grande Bataille

In yet another instalment of their continuing war against the English language, the French broadcast watchdog, the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel held a summit to discuss “the future of the French language in audiovisual media”. The Telegraph reports:

The advent of reality TV, American series and foreign-designed formats has seen a dramatic rise in English terms like prime time and titles like Secret Story, Masterchef or Ice Show. Canal Plus TV offers currently viewers two slots called Before and After either side of its flagship show, Le Grand Journal.

Studying in Princeton, ca. 1960

On a lighter note, refurbishment work at Princeton University’s Firestone Library has uncovered lots of interesting artefacts left behind from previous students, some of which seems to suggest that not all of them were entirely focused on their reading. According to Town Topics, Princeton’s Weekly community newspaper:

There is the copy of the magazine Foto-rama that was found in one carrel. “Wedding Nights are Not Important!” screams one headline. “Anita, Iceberg or Sexberg?” reads another, referring to the sultry 1960s actress Anita Ekberg.

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