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The Evolution and Critical Role of Peer Review in Academic Publishing – The Wiley Network (Marilyn Pollett | September 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on October 6, 2018

Did you know that the number of peer-reviewed journals has steadily grown by 3.5% per year for over the past three centuries? In fact, a rigorous peer review process is considered to be an indication of a journal’s quality, and most journals rely on peer review to ensure that only the best research gets accepted for publication. This often results in journals having high rejection rates, for example, as high as 90% in the case of many Wiley journals.

Peer review is considered the pillar that upholds the credibility and integrity of the scientific record. However, in its conventional form, peer review has drawn some criticism for issues like lack of transparency and inconsistency in output. To address these issues, several innovations in peer review have been introduced (new models, reviewer recognition, and more). Let’s take a look at the evolution of peer review and how industry experts see it shaping up in the future.

Challenges associated with peer review

Despite its merits, peer review has some limitations that threaten to weaken the entire scholarly publishing system:

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Research ethics versus ethical approval: A response to Tomaselli (Papers: Katie Fitzpatrick | 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on September 27, 2018

Keyan Tomaselli’s opinion piece provides a great deal of food for thought about a wide range of issues in research. I want to pick up here on one point he makes, which I think is worth further consideration: the issue of research ethics and approvals in ethnography. He notes that “bio-medical ethical models are imposed on anthropologists” and he raises concerns about how universities engage in the gate keeping of research approvals. This is an important point and one that might usefully be explored further in future issues of this journal. It seems to me that ethical approval has, indeed, been divorced from the academic field of research ethics, especially in qualitative research. As Tomaselli notes, we might question the right of “organisations [to] claim jurisdiction over the right of adult individuals or researchers to make their own respective choices”. I think we might also seek to uphold the rights of young people—not only adults—to make decisions about the kinds of research they engage in and how their voices are represented therein.

Ethical issues in ethnographic research are, indeed, complex, locally and culturally specific, and are difficult to regulate. Part of this difficulty lies in the fact that ethnographic research is, by definition, relational. Romero and Walker (2010, 209) observe that “some of the most prevalent methodological and ethical questions in contemporary ethnographic research concern whose voice is heard and how it is represented”. They note that “in theory and in practice, Institutional Review Boards require that the identity of individuals be protected and remain anonymous or at very least confidential” [sic] (223). Many ethnographers adhere to this approach because they are committed to protecting the identities of their participants, especially when the research concerns personal, legal, sexual or other sensitive materials. However, an assumption that people’s identities should and will be obscured in research representations is also problematic, especially when this decision is made prior to even entering the field.

Fitzpartrick, Katie. 2017. “ Research ethics versus ethical approval: A response to Tomaselli.” The Ethnograhic Edge  1, (1): 21– 33.

‘Telling our story… Creating our own history’: caregivers’ reasons for participating in an Australian longitudinal study of Indigenous children (Papers: Katherine Ann Thurber, et al | 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on September 20, 2018

Improving the wellbeing of Indigenous populations is an international priority. Robust research conducted with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is key to developing programs and policies to improve health and wellbeing. This paper aims to quantify the extent of participation in a national longitudinal study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous Australian) children, and to understand the reasons why caregivers participate in the study.

This mixed methods study uses data from Wave 6 of Footprints in Time, the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children. We conducted descriptive analysis of quantitative variables to characterise the sample and retention rates. We applied conventional content analysis to 160 caregivers’ open-ended responses to the question, ‘Why do you stay in the study?’, identifying themes and overarching meta-themes.

The study has maintained a high retention rate, with 70.4% (n = 1239/1671) of the baseline sample participating in the study’s 6th wave. We identified seven themes related to why participants stay in the study: telling our story, community benefit, satisfaction, tracking Study Child’s progress, study processes, receiving study gifts, and valuing what the study stands for. These related to two meta-themes: reciprocity, and trust and connection. Caregivers reported that participation was associated with benefits for their family and community as well as for the study. They identified specific features of the Footprints in Time study design that built and maintained trust and connection between participants and the study.

Our findings support the assertion that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want to be involved in research when it is done ‘the right way’. Footprints in Time has successfully recruited and retained the current-largest cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia through the use of participatory research methodologies, suggesting effective study implementation and processes. Participants indicated ongoing commitment to the study resulting from perceptions of reciprocity and development of trust in the study. Footprints in Time can serve as a successful model of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, to promote good research practice and provides lessons for research with other Indigenous populations.

Indigenous population, Longitudinal studies, Research design, Trust, Ethics, Motivation

Thurber, K. A., et al. (2018). “‘Telling our story… Creating our own history’: caregivers’ reasons for participating in an Australian longitudinal study of Indigenous children.” International Journal for Equity in Health 17(1): 143.
Publisher (Open Access):

From lectures to the lab: three steps to becoming an undergraduate researcher – Nature (James Ankrum | July 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on September 19, 2018

Participating in research gives students first-hand experience of a potential career path and provides graduate students and postdocs with important mentoring opportunities.

In the past decade, I’ve mentored 18 undergraduates in my laboratory, with the majority of them going on to pursue graduate degrees in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) and co-authoring papers.

Nearly every tier 1 research university in the United States has an undergraduate research programme, and uptake exceeds 90% at some institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Students in these programmes are a valuable resource for research labs and vice versa. Although beneficial to the lab overall, mentoring undergraduates requires investment in education and technical training. Adapting from lectures to life in a research lab is an abrupt transition, and is one that students and mentors should be prepared to navigate together.

In my experience, students typically progress through three stages during their time in the lab. Although not everyone will move through all of the stages, setting aspirational goals can help to draw undergraduates into the excitement of research and keep them focused on the task in mind. They are:

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