Impact factor trends (2012 edition)

July 22, 2012

It is that time of the year when  Impact Factor (IF) data are updated. As I finished retrieving the 2011 values (from ISI Web of Knowledge), I started looking at notable changes (upward and downward). Being a condensed matter physicist, I am focusing on those journals that are most relevant to me, but I am wondering whether similar observations to those expounded below are made in other subfields.

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Grammar and spelling nazi me

July 16, 2012

I do not know why, but these things bother me when I read them. I am not just talking about text messages on cellular phones — I understand that the medium itself is scarcely conducive to good writing (although I authorize anyone to slap me if they ever receive a text message from me containing any of the grammar mistakes or misspells listed below). I am talking about electronic mail messages, letters, blog posts, scientific preprints, CVs, internal departmental memos, and other (semi)official documents which eventually become part of public record.

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Instructional technology and college education

June 30, 2012

In this op-ed on the New York Times, Jeff Solingo, editorial director of the Chronicle of Higher Education points to a few concrete, urgent actions that universities and colleges across North America should take, in order to weather the financial crisis affecting institutions of higher education.

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IF versus EF

June 15, 2012

I have only recently become aware of the existence of the Eigenfactor (EF). It is a proposed measure of the overall influence, impact, prestige of a scholarly journal in its own discipline, or field. The one and only measure with which I was familiar is the well-known Impact Factor (IF), which is actually fairly straightforward to understand. By contrast, the eigenfactor is determined through a rather complex procedure (I am not going to discuss its computation in this post — for details, see here).

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Falsehood perishes… eventually

June 2, 2012

The damage that falsehood can do, if unchallenged and/or perpetuated over a period of time, can be considerable, often long lasting, both to individuals (for whom it is typically permanent — ask anyone wrongly convicted of a crime that they did not commit) and to humankind as a whole. For this reason, it seems a good idea to have procedures in place not only to spot it, but also to expose and debunk falsehood swiftly and effectively, before it spreads.
There exist circumstances in which falsehood acquires a pernicious resilience, even in the absence of a concerted effort on the part of anyone to preserve it. All that is needed is a sufficiently robust system of perverse incentives, which may come about for whatever reason and prove surprisingly hard to die.

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Official endorsement

May 27, 2012

Nope, sorry, this is not a post about politics, there are no upcoming elections anyway. I am writing in frustration, after checking once again on the web the status of a manuscript that I have submitted for publication over two months ago, to find out that it is still under review, ostensibly in the virtual hands of an unresponsive referee.

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Sorry, can’t work with you

May 15, 2012

Imagine this: you are the owner of a second tier football franchise based somewhere in Europe, say one like Tottenham, Udinese, Bayer Leverkusen — one of those. Your team is solid, good but not great. It is good enough to play consistently in the major league of your country, often earning a spot in some European competition (occasionally the UEFA Champions League, normally the UEFA Europa League).

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An ordinary Sunday evening

May 6, 2012

It’s 6 pm on Sunday evening in Trieste. I am walking by the train station, almost at the end of the long (about 90 minutes) walk from the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, of which I am a guest this Spring, to my downtown apartment. The end of my European stay is quickly approaching; I am about to spend my last month here frantically trying to finish all the projects that I started — that’s how things always go.
In a week, however, I shall be visiting a collaborator in Strasbourg. I am going there by train.
That reminds me, I do not have my train ticket yet… might as well get it now.

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Lessons from the Alberta vote

April 28, 2012

All right, so, now that the scenario that some (apparently many) of us feared, and that all pollsters comfortably, self-assuredly and wrongly predicted, has thankfully failed to materialize, let us see if there are some general lessons that can be learned from the recent provincial election in Alberta, which may be of relevance beyond the immediate impact of the consultation on those who happen to live there.

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Change in Alberta

April 21, 2012

The upcoming election in my province is often described as one that may “bring change”, as the Progressive Conservative Party (PC), in power for 41 years, may go down to defeat to a relatively new political formation, known as the Wild Rose Party (WR).
I agree that this election is about change, but whether or not on Monday night one will be able to say that a new leaf has been turned over, depends on what one regards as “change”.

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