Sunday, October 02, 2011

MediaWeek (V4, N40): Scholarly Models, Literary Translations, Library usage Data, Fading Creative Class +More.

Inside Higher Ed interviews author Kathleen Fitzpatrick about her views on scholarly publishing (IHEd):
Although peer review is often portrayed as an institution that arose with the scientific method, Fitzpatrick suggests the roots of peer review were “more related to censorship than to quality control,” serving mainly to concentrate academic authority in the hands of journal editors and, later, their expert reviewers.

While this system created an effective supply-side filter, it was also susceptible to bias, as Douglas Peters and Stephen Ceci demonstrated in a 1982 experiment. Peters, of the University of North Dakota, and Ceci, of Cornell University, took already-published articles in 12 esteemed psychology journals and resubmitted them, changing only the authors’ names and affiliations and the phrasing of the opening paragraphs. Three of the 12 articles were caught by journal editors as duplicates. Of the nine that were not, one was published. The other eight were rejected, most on methodological grounds.

In the days when ink was permanent, printing was expensive, and redressing the flaws of a shoddy published article was tedious, prepublication vetting by a cloister of gatekeepers made more sense, Fitzpatrick argues. These days, technology makes it possible to tap a larger crowd of academics to assess the merits of individual articles. Instead of assigning a few cops to guard the door, Fitzpatrick argues that journals should throw the door open to all comers, then deputize their readers to usher sound articles to a pedestal and banish bad ones to the margins. Scholarly journals would serve their constituencies better “by allowing everything through the gate, and by designing a post-publication peer review process that focuses on how a scholarly text should be received,” she writes, “rather than whether it should be out there in the first place.”
For those interested in literary translations, The Spectator reviews a new book on the world of intepreting and translating (Spectator):
This book fulfils a real need; there is nothing quite like it. Why Translation Matters, by Edith Grossman, is equally well written, but it is limited to the field of literary translation. Steven Pinker’s books about language have been highly praised, but they leave me wondering how closely the author has ever wrestled with any language other than English. And ‘Translation Studies’ as taught in universities is a highly theoretical discipline that is beyond the understanding of most practising translators — let alone of the general public.

Bellos spends a lot of time demolishing misconceptions. Speakers of English tend to think that being monolingual is the norm, and that being bi- or tri-lingual is something rather remarkable. In reality, there are vast areas of the world, e.g. most of India, where it is normal to speak several languages. There has always been surprisingly little translation between the country’s many languages; most people simply learned the languages spoken by their neighbours.
OCLC and OhioLink are doing some interesting things with usage data and also letting interested parties get their gear-head out by playing with the data (PR):
The data used in the report was from a collaborative OCLC-OhioLINK Collection and Circulation Analysis project that joined OhioLINK circulation data with WorldCat bibliographic records to produce a base file of circulation records for nearly 30 million different books. Ninety institutions participated in the study, including 16 universities, 23 community/technical colleges, 50 private colleges and the State Library of Ohio. The size of the combined collection and the number and diversity of participating institutions make this by far the largest and most comprehensive study of academic library circulation ever undertaken.

Perhaps the most fascinating result of the study was a test of the “80/20” rule. Librarians have long espoused the belief that 80 percent of a library’s circulation is driven by approximately 20 percent of the collection. The analysis of a year’s circulation statistics from this study indicates that 80 percent of the circulation is driven by just 6 percent of the collection.

The dataset generated by the project has also been made publicly available under the Open Data Commons Attribution license (an open license) to download for study and research. It is the largest and most diverse set of academic usage data for books ever collected. Because the data analysis described in the report represents only a fraction of what might be done with the data, OhioLINK and OCLC Research made the data publicly available so it could be studied to its full potential and other libraries could correlate it against their own data to determine how it compares with their individual use patterns.
Are we living a fading of the creative class?  Or is this a catalog of woes?  Scott Timberg in Salon takes a look:
A fading creative class — experiencing real pain but less likely to end up in homeless shelters, at least so far, than the very poor — may not offer sufficient drama for novelists, songwriters or photographers.

But journalists themselves have also ignored the human story all around them. In fact, the media — businesses that have been decimated by the Internet and corporate consolidation — have been reticent at telling the tale of this erosion. Good newspapers offer responsible coverage of the mortgage meltdown and the political wars over taxes and the deficit. But it’s easier to find a story about a plucky worker who’s risen from layoff to an inspiring Plan B than it is the more typical stories: People who lose their livelihood, their homes, their marriages, their children’s schooling because of the hollowing-out of the creative class and the shredded social safety net. Meanwhile, luxury coverage of homes, fashions, watches and wine continue to be a big part of magazines and newspapers.

MoneyBall is getting some good press and the people at Slate dig up some of Michael Lewis' articles for the magazine. (Slate)

From the twitter:

Our Ebook Future: The Digital Shift:  PW interviews Random House, Harpercollins and Melville House (PW)

How the Kindle Moved From BlackBerry to iPad: NYT

And in Sport, Lancashire County Cricket club win their first league trophy in 77 years.  Note the one with the big smile holding the cup.  (MEN)  Nice one!

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