Monthly Archives: October 2016

Article avaluation

In the open access class, Dean Depauw mentioned that there was a common misunderstanding that articles from open access sources often link with low quality. I want to share with you my opinion about how we can evaluate a quality of an article more objectively. The impact factor of a journal is just one of many factors to be considered when you are evaluating a quality of an article. Ask yourself these following questions when you are reading the article:

  • Who are authors of the article?
  • What is the author’s affiliation?
  • Are these authors experts in the field of this article?
  • How many articles they have published? Have the articles they published been read/downloaded/cited?
  • How long have they researched the subject of this article? Although the number of years they have been working does not always correlate to the quality of their research, but it is still a good aspect to consider. You can also access to the authors’ website to know more about them and their research.
  • Was there a peer-review process for the article before it is published?
  • Did the authors clearly document information and cite the source?
  • Did the authors cite reliable sources?
  • Did the authors address multiple points of view about the subject in the article?
  • Did the author clearly describe their materials and methods?
  • Was the article conclusion based on reliable and logical results?
  • Were these results consistent with other studies? If they were different from other studies, did they discuss possible reasons?
  • Were there any assumptions in the article?
  • Did the article show any bias?
  • Who provided the financial support for the study? Did the results in the article affect the financial support agency?
  • Was the article free of spelling and/or grammatical mistakes? Although spelling and grammatical mistakes have been seen in reputable sources, concerns about the quality of the article should be placed if there are a lot of errors.
  • Have there been retractions or changes related to the content made by the authors?

If you have anything to add, please do.

Plagiarism prevention and education

Although plagiarism is a complex issue in many forms, everybody would agree with me about following points:

  1. Plagiarism is a serious misconduct
  2. In a digital age, plagiarism has become easier than ever and the fact is it is increasing at an alarming rate.
  3. Sometimes, plagiarism is unintentional and may come from lacking of understanding.
  4. There is a need for plagiarism prevention and education

As a teacher, there are ways to help students avoiding plagiarism.

One: Educate students about plagiarism

To avoid plagiarism, the first step is making sure that students are aware of plagiarism, what is and what is not plagiarism, why it is serious, and why we should pay attention. One indispensable part of each class syllabus is the code of conduct or the honor code. Most of the time, this part lists activities or behaviors, which are considered unethical. Plagiarism is always mentioned with varied length from one word to one paragraph with examples and detailed penalties. I rarely see a syllabus with encouragement for students to be responsible learners. I believe that educating and encouraging students doing the right things is a better way to avoiding plagiarism than providing penalties. Also, students should be taught how to look for information, take good notes about the content and the source, translate collected information using their own words, and cite the source in different circumstances. Teachers can guide students to available software or tools assisting the writing process such as how to search effectively, how to search in different databases, how to use citation managers such us EndNote, Zotero, or Mendeley. Importantly, teachers should create an environment encouraging students to talk to teachers about students’ questions and concerns regarding plagiarism. Furthermore, teachers can broaden the usage of plagiarism detection tools as learning tools. They can encourage students using Turnitin, for example, to clarify what is plagiarism and what is not, how to fix it, as well as how to avoid it.

Two: Make it hard to plagiarize

The assignment itself can be changed to resist plagiarism. When an assignment can be easily found online, it might increase the temptation to plagiarize. If the assignment is more specific and asks for creativity and reflection, it might reduce plagiarism chance. The downside of a specific assignment is it narrows students in a small space, they might not see the problem as a complete picture.

For a writing assignment, teachers might apply step-by-step assignments. It means that instead of submitting the final paper/proposals/literature review, students are required to submit ideas/topics first, then the outline, the first draft following that, and the final one. By doing it, it not only reduces the chance of plagiarism, but also helps teachers detecting plagiarism in the early stage to avoid it from happening.

It is essential to emphasize that it is not only about catching plagiarists. It is about how to build up honor and integrity to reduce plagiarism in schools and to produce better learners.

Does the faculty appointment type affect the faculty’s productivity?

Does the faculty appointment type affect the faculty’s productivity?

Before answering this question, both faculty appointment type and faculty’s productivity should be clarified.

Colleges, universities, and institutions are diversifying the academic appointment system. Different appointment types come with different hiring processes, responsibilities, promotion and rewards, and salary bands. For example, job responsibility of a tenure-track faculty includes research, teaching, and service; while a non-tenure track one tends to focus on one task, mainly teaching or research.

The faculty’s productivity can be influenced by the individual faculty member, the workplace environment, and the leadership of the department/college/university/institution. In terms of the individual faculty, there are several factors contribute to his/her productivity, including knowledge and skills in the area, commitment, motivation, engagement, and work habit. The workplace environment is very important to promote and maximize the faculty capacity and potential. It includes mentoring, sufficient resources, promotion and rewards, communication and network, and shared and positive culture. The leadership plays an essential role to create and maintain a conducive workplace environment. The leadership is shown by clear missions, goals, and expectations. A well-prepared faculty member working in a supportive environment which is created by effective leadership will result in the optimal productivity.

In my opinion, yes, I think the faculty appointment type does affect the faculty’s productivity.

What is yours?