by Stephen Downes
Jan 20, 2017
A study reports that journals tend to disproportionately select papers by authors from elite institutions. This is not because the papers are better or more informed but because of "a strong bias towards a few elite institutions who exercise outsized influence not only on who gets tenure-track jobs but also in who gets published and where." We see this same bias expressed outside academia, where journalists and media preferentially quote academics from elite media, even to the point of giving them credit for others' discoveries. Publishers, not surprisingly, disagree, arguing the result is either trivial ("Whether the level (of bias), once documented, is sufficient to be a problem that requires a remedy is in the eye of the beholder") or false ("data that I see could be explained by differences in the raw number and quality of submitted manuscripts"). Both objections are addressed and refuted in the article.
Inge de Waard has earned her PhD and by way of celebration she gives us a certifiably useful guide to preparing for your defense (or viva), as it is known in the UK. I found it interesting because it highlights the core interests of the examiners (and by implication, the profession): how do your questions follow from your literature review, what theories guided you, how did you define such-and-such? And some good advice for preparing for a PhD defense.
The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has published an updated guide on understanding metadata (49 page PDF). It's a guide, so it begins at a pretty basic level. Some useful bits: the typology of metadata (though I think this is missing some important types, such as anotations, ratings, usage, etc); means of representing metadata (relational databased, XML, Linked Data and RDF), controlled vocabularies and content standards. It also summarizes some major metadata initiatives such as schema.org, Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS), Dublin Core, Friend of a Friend (FOAF), ONline Information eXchange (ONIX), EXchangeable Image File Format (Exif), etc. Finally, it addresses the core question of how metadata is generated.
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