Brief History of Copyright and 4-Chords

When I watched the very first Remix video, I stopped it only a few minutes in to discuss with my partner about what the video was addressing. We launched into a really in depth conversation about copyright, originality, and inspiration. We remembered a video by Axis of Awesome and their 4 Chords Song

I think it is a great example of how the music industry really isn’t that original, and songs really are similar. Many of The Beatles first songs were covers, yet the Beatles are better known for these songs. Granted, the four chords sound good and are catchy, and there is a limit to the total possible numbers of combinations. Still, does that make it okay? It is hard to say. But, there is a reason certain songs trigger memories, even when listening to it for the first time. Probably because it is related to another song.

Also, CGP Grey does a whole series of short videos related to many different topics. One of my favorites is the one on Copyright. Oh, Disney.

Posted in PFP14S

Open Access Funds Resource

For those interested in Open Access, Virginia Tech provides a subvention fund to help with fees related to open access journals. Check it out here!

There are several guidelines for the amount they will help with and the types of journals they will allow funds to cover, which limits it to currently “accepted” open access journals. Guidelines here.

I think it is great that Virginia Tech is supporting open access and it is important that this resource is utilized.

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ORI – Misconduct Aftermath and the Need for Replication

As I was reviewing the ORI website, I was surprised by how many of the cases involved falsifying data. I can’t even imagine simply creating or duplicating data, especially in psychology. As I was browsing, most seemed to be related to biology or medical, and I didn’t see any psychological ones (granted, I didn’t read them all). I was glad to see that, although many may not have been reported. Still, I can see plagiarism, data deletion, changes in study design, and inadequate record keeping being more common. This is unfortunate, but I could definitely see it occurring.

To reduce issues, I think replication needs to be more valued and supported. Many studies are not published because “it’s already been done before.” Replication is key to fully understanding psychological phenomena and it really needs to happen more.

What I found most interesting were the consequences for the researchers who engaged in misconduct. For example, one researcher is expected to have research supervised by outside colleagues, a review of any papers, and inability to advise on certain issues. I didn’t see any where a researcher was stated to be fired, but most of it seemed remedial. Also, any articles are retracted. I think this is great, as the researcher may have unknowingly committed the misconduct. I know the reputation of the person will likely be hurt, but rehabilitation versus punishment is probably the best method and it allows learning to occur. At the same time, it begs the question of when punishment (e.g., dismissal, fines) would be appropriate (apparently the Great Pretender – nearly 200 medical studies faked….) and who would decide that.

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Open Range

I have dabbled once with open access journals, and it ended up being a bad idea! We found the journal online and read some of the articles in it to be intriguing. We found it odd, however, that our article was accepted within a day of submitting and that we had to sign over the copyright BEFORE paying. We decided not to do that, and luckily, our paper was accepted in a peer-reviewed journal.

I decided to look up a psychology article through “Scientific Research Publishing.” It claims to be peer-reviewed, although the company is known for some predatory tactics. Its headquarters are in Wuhan, China.

The journal Psychology is the publishing companies psychology international journal. And, it takes EVERYTHING psychology related. I am so used to journals that are specific to a topic (I have my favorite journals I submit to), that it is bizarre to see how many fields this journal covers. The journal vows to spread scientific ideas of any psychological field. While I like this idea, I think the journal was too disjointed to make sense.

What I did like about it was the authors of the various articles were from all around the world. There was research done in Vietnam, and Mexico, and Iran, and Venezuela, and China, and Italy, among several others. While some were general research, others were specific to populations in those countries. An issue we often have in the university setting is we get white, college students for our studies. It makes generalization very difficult and usually impossible.

I was also surprised with the editorial board, as it includes individuals from all over the world (although still mostly from the US). What is funny is I looked up the editor-in-chief for the journal. On his webpage of interests, he included editorial boards he is on. He did not include this journal on his list….

To publish in the journal, there is a fee. For articles that have 10 or fewer pages, it costs an easy $700 (sarcasm). For each additional page over 10, it costs $50. Easy money…

I have many issues with the concept of open access journals. I know a lot have been accused of plagiarism and fraud. I like the idea behind spreading scientific knowledge far and wide, allowing people to see what was done so others can build upon it. That is what science is. But the method needs to change. Paying $700 is ridiculous, and while there is a claim that there is a peer review, the fact that my one submission took only a day says that either this is false, or one person reviewed it. Having a critique is crucial for scientists to make sure all possible issues are addressed or alternative hypotheses are thought about.

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Practical Class for Students

Inside Higher Ed recently published an article (here) that described a study examining the outcome of a one-hour group for first generation college students. In the study, students who attended a discussion/workshop where panelists discussed their own personal adjustment to college and how panelists found resources were much more likely to have higher GPA and utilize resources on campus than a control group. While this seems initially promising, there are some issues with the study. First, the study took place at a private institution. Would the results hold up at a public or larger university? Also, the workshop was optional, so students who were attending it may have been more motivated and therefore more likely to seek out resources or help where needed. We also don’t know what incentives were in place for people to attend the workshop. Finally, we don’t know what the difficulty level of the classes taken were between groups, meaning one group may have simply had simpler classes to take. Despite these issues, I think the authors are suggesting something very promising.

I think the idea of a panel is an excellent idea, but I wonder why it is a) optional, b) geared toward only first-generation and c) only during the first year. I am a firm believer in personal responsibility. That students need to seek out their own help and resources during their college years. They need to take advantage of office hours, trainings, career advice, etc. I realize, however, that students often do not have the skills necessary to seek out these services. They might not know even where to start, making a workshop or class important for students to attend. It would be great for a more “practical” class to be taught throughout college that is basically an outline of topics students are likely to encounter per year and how to seek out that aid. Student blogger laven also wrote about another potential first year seminar here. It isn’t meant to be hand-holding, just a more structured way for students of all years to know what is out there and how to get it. Ideal? Of course. Realistic? …….

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The Christian Mission

I do not consider myself to be a religious or spiritual person, so the concept of a “religious institution” is something I am completely unfamiliar with. I was curious to read mission statements from universities that are considered Christian to see how they might be similar to each other.

I looked up the mission statements for Boston College and Liberty University. Both are, obviously, private institutions on the east coast. For Boston College, I found the statement “the University regards the contribution of different religious traditions and value systems as essential to the fullness of its intellectual life and to the continuous development of its distinctive intellectual heritage” to be especially profound. It suggests an openness to discovery and a willingness to accept other value systems. Not only a willingness, but a desire to learn about them. The word “essential” emphasizes that to be a true scholar, one must listen and hear all viewpoints.

I think this is important for a Catholic institution to stress. I was raised Catholic, so I saw the entire spectrum of Catholicism. I know some people (Catholic and otherwise) can be very closed to listening to others, but to know a scholarly institution is out that has it in their mission to consider others is inspiring to say the least.

For Liberty University, there definitely was some overlap with Boston College. One big difference, though, was the attention toward Christianity. I felt like Boston College actually was more general to academic missions. Further, in the few points where religion was pushed, it seemed like religion in general, not necessarily Christianity. Liberty University, on the other hand, is very clear that they are a Christian university set to uphold Christ’s messages and views.

Both schools clearly point out that knowledge and truth can be found through spiritual exploration. And education is important to both. Boston College, however, seems more impartial to what religious/spiritual truth one seeks.

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The Battle of Q’s

I was not surprised when the issue of quality vs. quantity came up during our first class. As classmates were asking about how many, how long, or how good blogs need to be, I was reminded of my own teaching experiences. Students ask questions about very specific details that I now have to incorporate in every single assignment. 12-point font, Times New Roman, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, APA style citations. I find myself discouraged, because I don’t like limiting people for some assignments and know it inhibits creativity and processing. But, I know if I don’t set standards, some students will (unfortunately) take advantage of my laxness. And I’m not even talking about the obvious ones (triple spacing…..really?!). I once found out a student used 14-point sized periods in order to fill up space (granted, I think that is pretty smart).

When I do think about why these questions of quantity or quality occur, I believe it really comes down to grades. Students, whether graduate or undergraduate, are so overly concerned with getting grades that it tends to detract from the goals of the assignment and education. I want my students to think critically and to take risks, but why would they do that if it might mean a lower grade. I try to include writing options on my tests (i.e., 15 possible options, choose 5). I know some of the questions are really challenging and could result in some really deep thinking. But, with the fear of a bad grade, few choose those options. Few choose to put themselves in an uncomfortable place. And who can blame them or ourselves.

Alfie Kohn wrote an excellent article (here) that argues why grades should not be a part of teaching. Sure, grades give us a way to identify problem areas and provide quantitative data supporting education. But, if we have a system where instructors can give feedback to students, writing can improve and assumptions can be challenged. I wish we could have a college or university where there were no grades, but rather individualized assessment and evaluation. I know it won’t be accepted anytime soon (I expect it to be frowned upon). Yes, it would take a lot more time and many more resources to have this in place for higher education, but I think that would be a fantastic way to build cognitive thinking skills that would be much more beneficial for the future.

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Home Improvement

My department has been meeting over the last month to discuss how we want to quantify and understand student activity and achievement over the course of the year. Are the graduate students fulfilling the expectations and the goal of the program, and how do we know that? It has been a long process. Something I’ve learned from it, and through my own experiences in the classroom, is the importance of wording. If something is not completed defined, then people are going to interpret it in so many different ways. I am amazed at how often I have asked a question in a way I thought was so clear, yet my students will view it completely differently. I realize that, yes, the students are interpreting it in a correct way, just not my “correct.” Really, the only thing I can do is improve the wording the next time around and try to account for all possible interpretations. Further, I provide critical feedback. I realize that this is inevitable, but I wonder if there truly is a way to write a “perfect” question where allows for variability but the student’s respond in the best way. The way something is asked will always be interpreted differently, especially if I want a written response. I want to stay away from multiple choice, where there is only one “right” way to ask. This is a constant struggle for me, especially as I move toward written, open, application type questions.

Posted in gedivtf13

Restricted Interests

I thought our discussion last week concerning “diving” vs “skimming” to be extremely interesting. For one, graduates students naturally delve very deep into one particular area, and we are expected to be experts. SeeĀ this website some interesting insight into our academic and career choices. I am completely on board with knowing a lot about particular topics (I know I used to be somewhat obsessed with LoTR). It is part of what we do, and it is expected and celebrated when people know “a lot” about a topic.

At the same time, knowing “too much” or being “too interested” in a topic can actually qualify as disordered. Specifically, I am referring to autism spectrum disorders. One of the common features of the disorder is “restricted/repetitive interests,” meaning being extremely preoccupied with objects or topics, even to the point of obsessing. What makes it disordered is that it usually results in social isolation, whether the person is perceived as odd or weird, or the person knows so much about something that they can’t talk about other things or don’t notice social cues.

We hit on it in class, but moderation is key.

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Sociality – There’s An App For That

A parent comes into therapy saying their child needs help being social. “Teach social skills. My child does not interact with other kids.”

But when you sit down with the child, the child is able to interact and seems to know how to interact, with perhaps some anxiety. When you ask about friends, however, the child says that they have a lot of friends. “Where do you know these friends?”

“The Internet”

This situation occurs more and more and more. A parent believes their child has no friends or isn’t being social. The child is social, just not in the way the parent believes is appropriate or acceptable. The question is, should the parent be concerned? Is there anything wrong with having friends you have only met digitally. Millions of people have sought out support through online forums, with friends they have never met. These include addicts, kids and adults coming out about their sexuality, suicide help, and even finding people just to love them. I am always fascinated by the value differences between parents and teens, and consistently technology and cell phones and Internet comes up as a key reason behind communication difficulties.

As an aside, there is actually an app (check it outĀ here) that allows people to text and see where they are going at the same time. No more running into people or falling into fountains!

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