Monthly Archives: December 2013

One thing that should change in Higher Education

One thing I believe should change about higher education is:

Publishing standards [in humanities and social sciences vs science and engineering]: Students spend months writing massive documents that almost no one will read. Spending the same amount of time producing publications definitely makes more sense, as having publications would make a stronger case for faculty positions, but simultaneously poses problems for researchers in the humanities and social sciences. The lack of publications by students in these areas, along with the lack of joint authorship, raises the question of whether the humanities and social sciences should approach scholarship in a way similar to science and engineering disciplines. As an advocate of integrating the humanities with science and engineering, I encourage more interaction between researchers in both [humanities and social sciences] and [science and engineering], which hopefully can increase joint authorship. With the emergence of Experimental Philosophy as a new research area, I am hoping that collaboration and joint authorship among researchers in various disciplines (e.g., sociology, psychology, statistics, philosophy) will continue to grow! Such growth could lead to researchers in the humanities and social sciences disseminating their research in a way comparable to the science and engineering disciplines, in terms of graduate students publishing a certain number of articles (usually as second or third author and not first author) per academic year, or presenting at several conferences per calendar year. Any thoughts on the future of Experimental Philosophy, and how it could help (or hinder) changes to make scholarship in humanities and social sciences similar to that of science and engineering?

Open access journals in philosophy

As I searched for open access journals in philosophy, there are several such journals that have opened recently (i.e., within the last five years). The first journal that appeared in a Google search is the Open Journal of Philosophy (OJPP). The publisher is: Scientific Research Publishing (SCIRP), an academic publisher of open access journals. According to the ‘Aims & Scope’ tab on the OJPP website, “The goal of this journal is to provide a platform for scientists and academicians all over the world to promote, share, and discuss various new issues and developments in different areas of philosophy.” However, the ‘Article Processing Charges’ tab on the OJPP website, which seems very counterintuitive, is where they give a description of being an open access journal: “At SCIRP, we guarantee that no university library or individual reader will ever have to buy a subscription or pay any pay-per-view fees.” What is more, the fee they charge to authors is ridiculously expensive! For a paper within 10 printed pages, they charge $500, and $50 per additional page after 10 pages! It seems extremely expensive when one takes into account that the humanities and social sciences receive hardly any money compared to the grants provided in science and engineering research. If charging more money to the authors for producing articles is the way open access is heading, then I do not think that open access will be sustainable or successful, unless researchers in humanities and social sciences are given more money. Until that change happens, the open access movement unfortunately seems geared primarily for science and engineering research. What do researchers in the humanities and social sciences make of the open access movement?

MOOCs as experiments

There has been plenty of media coverage on massive open online courses (MOOCs), and the recent article I chose to comment on (Confirming the MOOC Myth) summarizes much the research conducted on MOOCs thus far from various sources. The consensus so far is that MOOCs “have yet to live up to their potential,” if we assume MOOCs to completely transform higher education. But such an assumption is absurd because no one component (e.g., online learning, tuition) can completely transform higher education. All parts need to work together in a way that benefits various types of students. Beyond just listing the pros and cons of MOOCs, the article also hints at the experimental nature of MOOCs: “presenters reminded listeners that their research — and the search for more uses for MOOCs — requires more time.” Framing MOOCs as an experimental endeavor highlights the need for further research on exactly how these courses are impacting (or can impact) the lives of individuals in different age groups. I see this advancement of online learning as a call for more careful examination and comparison of various learning styles at the post-secondary level.