Academic Libraries

Academic News

On UCSC’s outrageous mass destruction of books

Submitted by rteeter on Tue, 12/27/2016 - 12:52

Over the summer, workmen removed most of the remaining books from our Science and Engineering Library at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Roughly 80,000 books, worth between $2-$6 million were destroyed or shipped off campus to distant storage facilities.

The act was taken with virtually no faculty input.

Why I still won’t review for or publish with Elsevier–and think you shouldn’t either

Submitted by Blake on Mon, 12/12/2016 - 16:43
Contrary to what a couple of people I talked to at the time intimated might happen, my scientific world didn’t immediately collapse. The only real consequences I’ve experienced as a result of avoiding Elsevier are that (a) on perhaps two or three occasions, I’ve had to think a little bit longer about where to send a particular manuscript, and (b) I’ve had a few dozen conversations (all perfectly civil) about Elsevier and/or academic publishing norms that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have had. Other than that, there’s been essentially no impact on my professional life.

It's Not Too Late to Save the Stacks

Submitted by Blake on Sun, 10/23/2016 - 10:23
For in-depth assignments, nothing replaces the chance to introduce students face-to-face to a nonvirtual librarian who can help them navigate the research process. One invaluable lesson of standing next to a real person undertaking real-time information browsing: Students learn that good information takes time to locate. Even the experts have to problem-solve through some deadends and overgeneralized hits before finding a good source. And when something suitable turns up, students can share that eureka moment or the relief of genuine gratitude with another person.

Don’t Touch That Dial: Standardizing a Consortial Library System

Submitted by Blake on Wed, 10/05/2016 - 09:24
These issues elicit a lot of crocodile tears, hyperbole, and toxic brinkmanship from those trying to get their way. It’s pointless bickering. We can instead focus only on what’s demonstrably best to alter, making warranted changes at the network level, and leaving the rest alone.

Robot-written reviews fool academics

Submitted by Blake on Fri, 09/23/2016 - 11:14
Using automatic text generation software, computer scientists at Italy’s University of Trieste created a series of fake peer reviews of genuine journal papers and asked academics of different levels of seniority to say whether they agreed with their recommendations to accept for publication or not. In a quarter of cases, academics said they agreed with the fake review’s conclusions, even though they were entirely made up of computer-generated gobbledegook – or, rather, sentences picked at random from a selection of peer reviews taken from subjects as diverse as brain science, ecol

On Refusing to Read

Submitted by Blake on Sat, 09/17/2016 - 14:42
My small act of countercultural scholarly agency has been to refuse to continue reading or assigning the work of David Foster Wallace. The machine of his celebrity masks, I have argued, the limited benefits of spending the time required to read his work. Our time is better spent elsewhere. I make this assessment given the evidence I have so far accumulated — I have read and taught some of his stories and nonfiction, have read some critical essays on Wallace’s work, and have read D.T.

How Did That Make It Through Peer Review?

Submitted by Blake on Sun, 09/11/2016 - 21:17
Yet, I suspect these kinds of situations are relatively rare. Having been involved in enough papers, and, yes, being party to papers where I didn’t catch something in the review or editorial process, I have the ultimate answer: Reviewers, editors, and authors are human. What I mean by this is that scientific papers are complex beasts. A single manuscript may weave together disparate groups of organisms, unfamiliar pieces of anatomy, far-flung reaches of the globe, and multiple statistical techniques. A typical paper is usually seen by a single editor and two to four reviewers.