Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Authorship and Publishing: a recap of the Research Integrity Forum (Dan Bendrups)

Photo courtesy of Barbara Doherty
On Thursday last week, as part of Academic Writing Month, La Trobe held its first Research Integrity Forum (organised by the Ethics, Integrity and Biosafety team and the RED Unit).

The theme of the forum was ‘authorship and publishing’, which taps into important questions around issues such as plagiarism, appropriate attribution, authorship.

The discourse of academic integrity is a fixture in the twenty-first century university, and has particular nuances when considered in terms of research.

On the one hand, codes and rules exist to govern and promote research integrity, largely aimed at protection from (and prevention of) harm arising from research. However, research integrity is also an approach or state of mind; something arrived at by free choice, rather than compulsion. As Bruce Macfarlane states in his book Researching with Integrity (2009, p.3): “Developing an understanding of what to do is always a more challenging prospect than issuing edicts about what is not right.”

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

What to do when the reviews for your manuscript arrive (Teresa Iacono)

Photo by Dustin Lee on Unsplash
As a researcher, the satisfaction of completing a manuscript and sending it off for review through the manuscript central portal can’t be underestimated.

You have reviewed the literature, conducted the research, written and edited numerous versions after exchanges with your supervisors or other co-authors, and now you have sent it on its way. Sigh of relief, followed by reward (bubbles in a hot bath, shiraz in a glass, and a trashy novel are amongst my favourites and preferably simultaneously).

The best part is that you can maintain that feeling of self-satisfaction for at least 4-6 weeks.

And then it comes in. You recognise the journal name sitting in your email Inbox. You stop breathing for a moment, your pulse quickens and there is a squeamish feeling in the pit of your stomach as you contemplate opening the email. My advice to you is … don’t.

Well, not before you go through some mental health first aid! Let me explain through an anecdote.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Cross-pollinations (Alexis Harley)

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash
I’m no scientist (alas), but I am an obsessive reader of scientific literature from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

It’s a literature I read as much for what it suggests about the culture in which it was written as for its scientific revelations, many of which, while ingenious, have slipped ignominiously from the canon of contemporary scientific belief (here’s looking at you, phrenology, phlogiston, and the gemmule theory of inheritance).

But it’s also a literature to be read for its stylistic innovation.

It’s hard to imagine a modern botanist writing serious scholarly work on the reproductive mechanisms of eighty-three plant species, based on original botanical research, extensive reading and correspondence – as an epic poem, in heroic couplets, with the plants personified as polyamorous demigods. But in 1789? Find a rhyme for stamen, stat.

One of the reasons why scholarly writing could be so polymorphous in the eighteenth century was that scholarship was still becoming disciplined. Writer-researchers often worked in multiple areas of enquiry, some of which weren’t even named, let alone demarcated and institutionalised. That allowed for a discursive cross-pollination that would be frowned upon if practised a hundred years later, even if some of the mainstream disciplinary discourses of the twentieth-century had originally been hybrids themselves.