A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

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1.
#32319

Aardvark et al.: Quality Journals and Gamesmanship in Management Studies   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Publication in quality journals has become a major indicator of research performance in UK universities. This paper investigates the notion of `quality journal' and finds dizzying circularity in its definitions. Actually, what a quality journal is does not really matter: agreement that there are such things matters very much indeed. As so often happens with indicators of performance, the indicator has become the target. So, the challenge is to publish in quality journals, and the challenge rewards gamesmanship. Vested interests have become particularly skilful at the game, and at exercising the winners' prerogative of changing the rules. All but forgotten in the desperation to win the game is publication as a means of communicating research findings for the public benefit. The paper examines the situation in management studies, but the problem is much more widespread. It concludes that laughter is both the appropriate reaction to such farce, and also, perhaps, the stimulus to reform.

Macdonald, Stuart and Jacqueline Kam. Journal of Information Science (2007). Articles>Publishing>Management>Research

2.
#38554

Academic Scientists at Work: The Job Talk

If you want to win the race, you need to present what the search committee, department chair, and all the department faculty need to see and hear to motivate them to offer you a position. Chances are the position will be in a department with faculty members who have varied research interests, all of whom have some stake in the hire. Hence, your audience will be a complex mix of scientists with distinct and diverse standards. While this sounds challenging, good organization and a clear idea of what is expected will help you in your quest for the dream position. This article will discuss what you need to present in your job talk, how to organize it, and how to prepare your slides.

Boss, Jeremy M. and Susan H. Eckert. Science (2004). Careers>Presentations>Research

3.
#36923

Adolescent Responses Toward a New Technology: First Associations, Information Seeking and Affective Responses to Ecogenomics   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This paper reports on an exploratory study among adolescents (N = 752) who were introduced to the emerging technology of ecogenomics for the first time. An online survey focused on their associations with the term ecogenomics, their planned information seeking behaviors if they were to acquire information about the new technology, and their first affective responses toward ecogenomics after having read some introductory information about it. Adolescents were found to associate ecogenomics most frequently with economy. Although the Internet was the most popular medium to be used in their planned information seeking behaviors, books and science communication professionals were judged as the most trustworthy information sources. After having read the introductory information about ecogenomics most adolescents reported positive affective responses toward the new technology.

Bos, Mark J.W., Cees M. Koolstra and Jaap T.J.M. Willems. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Technology>Human Computer Interaction>Children

4.
#32296

Amusing Titles in Scientific Journals and Article Citation   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The present study examines whether the use of humor in scientific article titles is associated with the number of citations an article receives. Four judges rated the degree of amusement and pleasantness of titles of articles published over 10 years (from 1985 to 1994) in two of the most prestigious journals in psychology, Psychological Bulletinand Psychological Review. We then examined the association between the levels of amusement and pleasantness and the article’s monthly citation average. The results show that, while the pleasantness rating was weakly associated with the number of citations, articles with highly amusing titles (2 standard deviations above average) received fewer citations. The negative association between amusing titles and subsequent citations cannot be attributed to differences in the title length and pleasantness, number of authors, year of publication, and article type (regular article vs comment). These findings are discussed in the context of the importance of titles for signalling an article’s content.

Sagi, Itay and Eldad Yechiam. Journal of Information Science (2008). Articles>Publishing>Research>Scientific Communication

5.
#32332

An Analysis of Failed Queries for Web Image Retrieval   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This paper examines a large number of failed queries submitted to a web image search engine, including real users' search terms and written requests. The results show that failed image queries have a much higher specificity than successful queries because users often employ various refined types to specify their queries. The study explores the refined types further, and finds that failed queries consist of far more conceptual than perceptual refined types. The widely used content-based image retrieval technique, CBIR, can only deal with a small proportion of failed queries; hence, appropriate integration of concept-based techniques is desirable. Based on using the concepts of uniqueness and refinement for categorization, the study also provides a useful discussion on the gaps between image queries and retrieval techniques. The initial results enhance the understanding of failed queries and suggest possible ways to improve image retrieval systems.

Pu, Hsiao-Tieh. Journal of Information Science (2008). Articles>Web Design>Visual Rhetoric>Search

6.
#37010

An Analysis of the Public Scientific Literacy Study in China   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In March 2006, the State Council of the People's Republic of China issued "The Outline of the Action Plan for Improving Scientific Literacy for All (From 2006--2010 and then 2010--2020)" (the "Scientific Literacy Outline"), in which the official notion of scientific literacy named "Public Scientific Literacy in China" was put forward for the first time in the history of China. Subsequently, the program of "Study on Measurement Indicators of Scientific Literacy of Chinese Citizens and its Demonstration" was funded by the China Association for Science and Technology the following September. However, the notion as well as its measurement indicators still need more clarification. After reviewing some relevant literature and introducing the historical background to the concept of "Public Scientific Literacy in China" along with a detailed interpretation of its connotation, the authors do a closer examination of the measurement indicators established by the Research and Development Center for Science Communication at the University of Science and Technology of China, based on a systematical analysis of the sample surveys.

Chen, Fajun, Yumin Shi and Fei Xu. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Surveys>China

7.
#27124

Anticircumvention Rules: Threat to Science

Scientists who study encryption or computer security or otherwise reverse engineer technical measures, who make tools enabling them to do this work, and who report the results of their research face new risks of legal liability because of recently adopted rules prohibiting the circumvention of technical measures and manufacture or distribution of circumvention tools. Because all data in digital form can be technically protected, the impact of these rules goes far beyond encryption and computer security research. The scientific community must recognize the harms these rules pose and provide guidance about how to improve the anticircumvention rules.

Samuelson, Pamela. Science (2001). Articles>Intellectual Property>Copyright

8.
#31927

Are You Job Hunting or Job Fishing?

Landing the best jobs, like snagging the best fish, takes hard work and patience.

Fiske, Peter. Science (2000). Careers>Resumes>Social Networking

9.
#36929

Assessment of Slovene Secondary School Students' Attitudes to Biotechnology in Terms of Usefulness, Moral Acceptability and Risk Perception   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Quantitative and qualitative studies among 469 high school students of average age 17 years were conducted. The students’ attitudes to four practical applications of biotechnology were examined: genetically modified plants (Bt corn), genetically modified animals (salmon), and hemophilia germ line and somatic gene therapy. Each of the four applications was examined from three different viewpoints: usefulness, moral acceptability and risk perception. Bt corn production proved to be the most acceptable in terms of both usefulness and risk perception. Values for genetically modified salmon and germ line gene therapy were comparable, but much lower than those for the other two applications; this was true for both usefulness and moral acceptability. In addition, students found genetically modified salmon to be ethically much less acceptable than Bt corn. Significant gender differences were observed in the case of germ line gene therapy and genetically modified salmon.

Črne-Hladnik, Helena, Cirila Peklaj, Katarina Košmelj and Aleš Hladnik. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical>Eastern Europe

10.
#36931

Believing in Both Genetic Determinism and Behavioral Action: A Materialist Framework and Implications   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

A disparity exists between studies reporting that genetics discourse produces deterministic or fatalistic responses and studies reporting that the majority of laypeople do not hold or adopt genetically deterministic views. This article reports data from an interview study (n = 50), and an interpretation of those data grounded in materialist understandings of discourse, that explains at least part of the disparity. The article employs a detailed reading of an illustrative transcript embedded in a quantitative content analysis to suggest that laypeople have incorporated two sets of public discourses—one that describes genetic causation and another that describes behavioral causation. These different discourse tracks are presumed to be encoded in different sets of neural networks in people’s minds. Consequently, each track can be articulated upon proper cueing, but the tracks are not related to each other to produce a discourse for speaking about gene—behavior interactions. Implications for the effects of this mode of instantiation of discourse in human individuals with regard to genes and behavior are discussed, as well as implications for message design.

Condit, Celeste M., Marita Gronnvoll, Jamie Landau, Lijiang Shen, Lanelle Wright and Tina M. Harris. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical

11.
#32324

Better Reporting of Randomized Trials in Biomedical Journal and Conference Abstracts   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Well reported research published in conference and journal abstracts is important as individuals reading these reports often base their initial assessment of a study based on information reported in the abstract. However, there is growing concern about the reliability and quality of information published in these reports. This article provides an overview of research evidence underpinning the need for better reporting of abstracts reported in conference proceedings and abstracts of journal articles; with a particular focus in the area of health care. Where available we highlight evidence which refers specifically to abstracts reporting randomized trials. We seek to identify current initiatives aimed at improving the reporting of these reports and recommend that an extension of the CONSORT Statement (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials), CONSORT for Abstracts, be developed. This checklist would include a list of essential items to be reported in any conference or journal abstract reporting the results of a randomized trial.

Hopewell, Sally, Anne Eisinga and Mike Clarke. Journal of Information Science (2008). Articles>Scientific Communication>Research>Biomedical

12.
#37011

Bias in the Exchange of Arguments: The Case of Scientists' Evaluation of Lay Viewpoints on GM Food   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Most perspectives on public participation share the notion that dialogues should be open, allowing participants to articulate and evaluate different views and knowledge claims. We hypothesize that participants' evaluation of claims may be biased because participants have a preference for a particular type or source of a claim. This would hamper an open dialogue. We tested the effect of three variables on scientists' evaluation of claims of the general public about GM food: the claim's favorability towards GM food, the phrasing, and the source of the claim. Results are based on a survey-experiment among 73 biotechnology-scientists. Biased processing occurred when scientists evaluated claims. Claims that were corresponding with the attitude of the scientists and that were phrased in a cognitive way were evaluated more positively than claims that were contrasting the attitude of the scientists and that were phrased in an affective way. Contrary to our expectation, scientists evaluated claims of the public more positively than claims of experts.

Cuppen, Eefje, Mattijs Hisschemöller and Cees Midden. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical>Assessment

13.
#27095

A Brief History of US Fair Use

In our role as writing teachers, we’ve been asked to adopt 'post-modern practice' by releasing old-fashioned notions of single authorship and obsolete pedagogy that forbids plagiarism under a 'detect-and-punish' regime. Instead, we are to teach 'digital ethics' and Fair Use. But what exactly is 'Fair Use'? This is a doctrine we as writing teachers need to understand because while public figures such as Lawrence Lessig, Jessica Litman, and Siva Vaidhyanathan argue that the law needs to be changed, in the meantime we have classes to teach. Writing teachers increasingly teach writing on networked computers, and therefore our need to understand the basic doctrine of Fair Use is as great as our need to understand the rules of anti-plagiarism. This paper first reviews current US Copyright Law, and then briefly traces the concept of 'Fair Use' from its inception as 'fair abridgment' in 1700’s England to its current interpretation in US case law. US Copyright policy, the regime legally defining invention, imitation, compilation, and appropriation, is set through complex interactions between a variety of players. These influential interactions include the habits of writers. The tension between stakeholders who wish to share, and stakeholders who wish to contain and control information is viewed as a 'battle,' 'war,' and 'fight'. In this fight, the writing student and teacher thus become actors, willingly or not, determining how copyright operates. Because we as teachers are key players in the continual remediation of copyright policy, we should have a basic critical understanding of US Copyright Law and how Fair Use is situated within our copyright regime.

Rife, Martine Courant. Social Science Research Network (2006). Articles>Intellectual Property>Copyright>History

14.
#27280

Building a Biodiversity Content Management System for Science, Education, and Outreach   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

We describe the system architecture and data template design for the Animal Diversity Web (http://www.animaldiversity.org), an online natural history resource serving three audiences: 1) the scientific community, 2) educators and learners, and 3) the general public. Our architecture supports highly scalable, flexible resource building by combining relational and object-oriented databases. Content resources are managed separately from identifiers that relate and display them. Websites targeting different audiences from the same database handle large volumes of traffic. Content contribution and legacy data are robust to changes in data models. XML and OWL versions of our data template set the stage for making ADW data accessible to other systems.

Parr, C.S., R. Espinosa, T. Dewey, G. Hammond and P. Myers. Data Science Journal (2005). Articles>Content Management>Scientific Communication

15.
#36271

Building a Taxonomy of a Firm’s Knowledge Assets: A Perspective of Durability and Profitability   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Managing their knowledge assets is an imperative issue for most organizations in pursuit of competitive advantage in the knowledge-based economy. Previous researchers have proposed a number of valuable taxonomies for classifying an organization’s knowledge assets. However, once knowledge assets are classified by such taxonomies as a particular type, they do not change type over time. Arguably, however, business contexts are swiftly changing, and knowledge assets may have to be constantly adapted to play new roles, and so a taxonomy capable of reflecting the changing relations between knowledge assets and environmental conditions is needed. This article proposes such a taxonomy which utilizes durability and profitability as dimensions. This taxonomy allows knowledge assets to change type in the light of the new condition. Additionally, it has the characteristics of demonstrating the alignment of assets with organizational strategies, and of being widely applicable in the for-profit sector.

Li, Sheng-Tun. Journal of Information Science (2010). Articles>Information Design>Taxonomy>Case Studies

16.
#37008

Catastrophe Discourse in Microbiology, Its Rhetorical Form and Political Function   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Discourses evoking an antibiotic apocalypse and a war on superbugs are emerging just at a time when so-called "catastrophe discourses" are undergoing critical and reflexive scrutiny in the context of global warming and climate change. This article combines insights from social science research into climate change discourses with applied metaphor research based on recent advances in cognitive linguistics, especially with relation to "discourse metaphors." It traces the emergence of a new apocalyptic discourse in microbiology and health care, examines its rhetorical and political function and discusses its advantages and disadvantages. It contains a reply by the author of the central discourse metaphor, "the post-antibiotic apocalypse," examined in the article.

Nerlich, Brigitte and Richard James. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical>Risk Communication

17.
#35560

Chart Junk? How Pictures May Help Make Graphs Better

New research shows that highly embellished graphs and charts may actually help people understand data more effectively than traditional graphs.

Science Daily. Design>Graphic Design>Technical Illustration>Charts and Graphs

18.
#32318

A Comparison of Academics' Attitudes Towards the Rights Protection of Their Research and Teaching Materials   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This paper compares two JISC-funded surveys. The first was undertaken by the Rights MEtadata for Open Archiving (RoMEO) project and focused on the rights protection required by academic authors sharing their research outputs in an open-access environment. The second was carried out by the Rights and Rewards project and focused on the rights protection required by authors sharing their teaching materials in the same way. The data are compared. The study reports confusion amongst both researchers and teachers as to copyright ownership in the materials they produced. Researchers were more restrictive about the permissions they would allow, but were liberal about terms and conditions. Teachers would allow many permissions, but under stricter terms and conditions. The study concludes that a single rights solution could not be used for both research and teaching materials.

Gadd, Elizabeth, Steve Loddington and Charles Oppenheim. Journal of Information Science (2007). Articles>Intellectual Property>Copyright>Academic

19.
#36454

A Conceptual Analysis of Semantic Conflicts in Pan-European E-Government Services   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This paper presents research in Pan-European Public Services (PEPS) and Pan-European E-Government Services (PEGS). We examine different types of semantic interoperability issues that may arise when actors, information and services from different Member States (MS) need to cooperate and/or interoperate during the public service provision process. The semantic conflict types that arise in these cases are identified and classified according to a typology that is based on the combination of a known classification for semantic conflicts and domain specific concepts from the Governance Enterprise Architecture object model. This conceptual modelling describes and organizes the problem space, documents the requirements and can thus provide the basis for engineering solutions to resolve the identified conflicts.

Peristeras, Vassilios, Nikolaos Loutas, Sotirios K. Goudos and Konstantinos Tarabanis. Journal of Information Science (2008). Articles>Language>Localization>Europe

20.
#36691

Consultations of Stakeholders on the Roles of Research in Relation to Genetically Modified Plants in France   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article reports the first consultations on the roles of research in relation to genetically modified plants in France. We present a new attempt at facilitating discussion towards acceptable decisions and their results. This method consists of three steps: individual in-depth interviews of 77 French stakeholders, analysis of the interviews to identify elements that could help a constructive debate among participants, and two round-table discussions to present this analysis to stakeholders and foster discussions among them. The interviews exhibit a diversity of perceptions that are vaster than the pro or against points of view within the media. The problems raised during interviews deal with how discussions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are being done, how risks are taken into account, how the information is diffused, and how there is a minimal level of attention paid to social needs in GMOs' production. A series of problems more specific to the subject of the study discuss the weaknesses of the public research system. On the basis of these problems, 21 elements were identified that the stakeholders would like to see improved. One request seemed to be important for all types of stakeholders: “Raising the objectivity of the debate on GMOs.” Our facilitation exercise led to a set of innovative concrete proposals for the design of an effective national debate.

Ricroch, Agnès and Franck Jésus. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical>Research

21.
#38548

Consulting for Career Enhancement

Most graduate training programs are unknowingly doing students a disservice by failing to adequately prepare them for alternative careers. Career counselors encourage students to “sell” their problem-solving skills and to portray themselves as critical thinkers, but few can offer specific and actionable advice—and none can offer the kind of experience students need to make the transition to other work sectors.

Schillebeeckx, Maximiliaan. Science (2012). Careers>Consulting>Management

22.
#36689

Consumer Attitudes and the Governance of Food Safety   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This paper reports the analysis of a recent study of public perception of food safety governance in Spain, using genetically modified (GM) foods as an indicator. The data make clear that Spanish food consumers are aware of their rights and role in the marketplace. They are critical of current regulatory decision making, which they perceive to be unduly influenced by certain social actors, such as industry. In contrast, consumers demand decisions to be based primarily on scientific opinion, as well as consumer preferences. They want authorities to facilitate informed purchasing decisions, and favor labeling of GM foods mostly on the grounds of their right to know. However, consumers' actual level of knowledge with respect to food technology and food safety remains low. There are several ambivalences as to the real impact of these attitudes on actual consumer behavior (specifically when it comes to organizing themselves or searching out background information).

Todt, Oliver, Emilio Muñoz, Marta González, Gloria Ponce and Betty Estévez. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical>Risk Communication

23.
#37007

Coping with Uncertainty: Assessing Nanotechnologies in a Citizen Panel in Switzerland   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The policy shift towards "upstream public engagement" requires dealing with a lack of individual and stabilized scientific knowledge that accompanies any early stage of research and development. This article examines how actors cope with this epistemic uncertainty when deliberating emerging technologies. Analyzing the arguments of the participants in a Swiss citizen panel on nanotechnology, the article explores how actors form their opinions in an epistemically nonstabilized situation. The article shows how actors develop a strategy to handle this situation: analogies, such as to other risk technologies or "nature," and personal experiences as patients and consumers are used as interpretive patterns and serve as tools to cope with the unknown. Focusing on the ways uncertainty is handled, this approach is differentiated from other models to explain public attitudes toward emerging technologies, such as the "scientific literacy model" or the "cognitive miser model."

Valérie Burri, Regula. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Assessment

24.
#31923

The Cover Letter: Door Opener Par Excellence

Although we are allowed to put more into a cover letter than can appear on a magazine cover, the challenge is still to keep it succinct. In fact, writing something that is powerful and yet short is the single most difficult kind of business writing. You already know that although it's easy to go on and on in a company memorandum, saying the same thing in half the space can make your work twice as powerful.

Jensen, David G. Science (2002). Careers>Resumes>Cover Letters

25.
#32321

Creating Science and Technology Information Databases for Developing and Sustaining Sub-Saharan Africa's Indigenous Knowledge   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In this article, indigenous knowledge is defined as holistic of all forms of knowledge emanating from an indigenous community. The critical relevance of local science and technology information (STI) databases in the development and sustainability of Africa's indigenous knowledge is discussed. It is advocated that local African STI databases should be considered required development infrastructures because they will provide information resources that are more adequate for national planning and management than their international counterparts. Furthermore, the various stakeholders and their roles are identified and the policy environment of STI databases in Africa examined. Constraints notwithstanding, local databases for African STI resources are envisaged to enhance global distribution and sharing of Africa's indigenous knowledge.

Ezinwa Nwagwu, Williams. Journal of Information Science (2007). Articles>Knowledge Management>Scientific Communication>Africa

 
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