GoogleTranslate Service


Social software and academic reviews

February 27th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

I don’t really know why, but I seem to be spending a lot of time at the moment reviewing proposals and contributions for conferences and publications. And whilst there is much to be learned from all the ideas being put forward it is time consuming and sometimes feels a very isolated and perhaps archaic process.

I fond it difficult to decide the standards or criteria I am reviewing against. How important is clarity of thinking, originality, creativity? How important is it that the author includes copious references to previous work? Are we looking for depth or breadth? How important is the standard of English, particularly for those writing in a second or third language?

In this world of social software the whole review process seems somewhat archaic. It relies very much on individuals, all working in isolation. People write an abstract according to a call for proposals (and I am well aware of how difficult it is to write such calls – unless of course it is one of these multi track conferences which just include everything!). The reviews are allocated to a series of individuals for blind review. They do their work in isolation and then according to often subjective criteria, the proposal is accepted or rejected.

OK, sometimes there is the opportunity to make a conditional acceptance based on changes to the proposal. and of course, you are encouraged to provide feedback to the author. But all too often feedback is limited and pressure of time prevents organisers allowing a  conditional acceptance.

How could social software help with this? As usual I think it is a socio technical solution we need to look for, rather than an adoption of technologies per se. Most conferences have adopted software to help with the conference organising and review procedures but as happens all to often that software has been developed to manage existing processes more efficiently with no thought into how we could transform practices.

One big issue is the anonymity of the review procedure. I can see many reasons to support this, but it is a big barrier to providing support in improving submissions. If we move to non blind reviewing, then we could develop systems to support a discourse between submitters and reviewers, where both become part of the knowledge creation process. and in added benefit of such a discourse could be to clarify and make transparent the criteria being used for reviews. reviewers would have more of a role as mentors rather than assessors or gatekeepers.

This would not really require sophisticated technological development. It would really just need a simple booking system to arrange for a review and feedback session, together with video, audio or text conferencing functionality. More importantly perhaps it might help us in rethinking the role of individual and collective work in the academic and scholarly forms of publishing and knowledge development. I suspect a considerable barrier is the idea of the ‘Doctor Father’ – that such a process would challenge the authority of professors and doctorate supervisors. My experience, based on talking to many PhD students, is that the supervisory role does not work particularly well. It was developed when the principle role of universities was research and was designed to induct students into a community of practice as a researcher. With the changing role of universities plus the fact that many students are no longer committed to a long term career in academia (even if they could get a job) such processes have become less than functional. Better I think to develop processes of support based on wider communities than the narrow confines of a single university department.

Please follow and like us:

2 Responses to “Social software and academic reviews”

  1. atw says:

    I have reviewed articles for conference presentation and proceedings, and I generally agree with what you have said. I will further note that once I found that one of my three assigned articles was largely plagiarized from another paper! That was an unpleasant surprise for me.

    I think that getting “blind reviews” could be accomplished with software that shows selected usernames rather than real names. The same software could provide a collaborative space to discuss the paper, ask additional questions, or (if appropriate) challenge aspects of the paper. I thought the real reason we did blind reviews was to protect the AUTHOR’S identity, not the reviewer. Did I misunderstand you?

    I don’t know how familiar you are with Moodle, but something like an expanded workshop activity might be an interesting way to solve this problem. The author uploads the paper, reviewers are assigned randomly from a pool with expertise in the subject, a rubric is provided for the initial assessment, and then discussion space is linked to the content. (This is where the expansion comes in–Moodle allows for commenting, but not true discussion or webconferencing). Ratings are pulled from the reviewers, you could add in reviewers looking at other aspects of the work, and you rank order the results prior to tendering invitations to present.

    I think you are right! This process could be much improved.

  2. Graham Attwell says:

    Hi – yes meant authors not reviewers! Just on that anonymity question, I reckon half the time at least I know who has written the paper and probably that holds true for others too. Yes the system you describe could work well – and hacked in Moodle. My main point is that noone really seems to have through about it. Once more we get ever better management software – but nothing really working at improving the pedagogic or learning process.

  • Search Pontydysgu.org

    Social Media




    News Bites

    Cyborg patented?

    Forbes reports that Microsoft has obtained a patent for a “conversational chatbot of a specific person” created from images, recordings, participation in social networks, emails, letters, etc., coupled with the possible generation of a 2D or 3D model of the person.

    Please follow and like us:


    Racial bias in algorithms

    From the UK Open Data Institute’s Week in Data newsletter

    This week, Twitter apologised for racial bias within its image-cropping algorithm. The feature is designed to automatically crop images to highlight focal points – including faces. But, Twitter users discovered that, in practice, white faces were focused on, and black faces were cropped out. And, Twitter isn’t the only platform struggling with its algorithm – YouTube has also announced plans to bring back higher levels of human moderation for removing content, after its AI-centred approach resulted in over-censorship, with videos being removed at far higher rates than with human moderators.

    Please follow and like us:


    Gap between rich and poor university students widest for 12 years

    Via The Canary.

    The gap between poor students and their more affluent peers attending university has widened to its largest point for 12 years, according to data published by the Department for Education (DfE).

    Better-off pupils are significantly more likely to go to university than their more disadvantaged peers. And the gap between the two groups – 18.8 percentage points – is the widest it’s been since 2006/07.

    The latest statistics show that 26.3% of pupils eligible for FSMs went on to university in 2018/19, compared with 45.1% of those who did not receive free meals. Only 12.7% of white British males who were eligible for FSMs went to university by the age of 19. The progression rate has fallen slightly for the first time since 2011/12, according to the DfE analysis.

    Please follow and like us:


    Quality Training

    From Raconteur. A recent report by global learning consultancy Kineo examined the learning intentions of 8,000 employees across 13 different industries. It found a huge gap between the quality of training offered and the needs of employees. Of those surveyed, 85 per cent said they , with only 16 per cent of employees finding the learning programmes offered by their employers effective.

    Please follow and like us:


    Other Pontydysgu Spaces

    • Pontydysgu on the Web

      pbwiki
      Our Wikispace for teaching and learning
      Sounds of the Bazaar Radio LIVE
      Join our Sounds of the Bazaar Facebook goup. Just click on the logo above.

      We will be at Online Educa Berlin 2015. See the info above. The stream URL to play in your application is Stream URL or go to our new stream webpage here SoB Stream Page.

      Please follow and like us:
  • Twitter

  • @jatenas The thougher the theorist, the higher the quality of the essay it seems ... you need to dig deeper to grasp the concepts.

    About 5 days ago from Cristina Costa's Twitter via Twitter Web App

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Meta

  • Categories