Publish and be damned?

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I try very hard to keep this blog fairly light but there are times when I just have to speak out and this is one of them.

There is so much going on about Open Access, publishing, copyright, etc that I felt I must write something about it all. Lots of us get very cross about everything involved with publishing – it’s not surprising. For some academics it is part of their livelihood, for others it is about getting their research recognised in the “correct” way, for most other people it is something really annoying that gets in the way of getting their job done and for some it is an ethical issue that strikes at the core of their beliefs. So not a small issue for any of us. As the title to the blog today implies, this post is all about getting published.

As most of you know I’m a follower of The Thesis Whisperer, otherwise known as Dr Inger Mewburn. Inger has guests on the blog who write some very interesting posts, I have found this current post (To Posh to Promote) and the comments that follow fascinating. Evelyn Tsitas, the author, is known for being outspoken – which isn’t a bad thing. I would love to read her PhD thesis as it’s on werewolves, vampires and the nature of being human (wow I would like to have written on that). Inger’s own post on the PhD2Published blog is also critical of those who will not/cannot engage with modern technologies to promote themselves and their ideas. I agree a lot with most of what Evelyn and Inger say but I think we should give far stronger support to a call for universities to help, people to develop modern communication skills. People should have the opportunity to experience all sorts of communication in university whether it is blogging, micro-blogging, streaming video or 3D communication environments.

Another of my favourite blogs is from the LSE (London School of Economics). I nearly always find their posts to be extremely good reads, as I have this time. This post, The politics of the public eye, by Melonie Fullick, a PhD student at York University, Canada, is excellent. One of the reasons that people do not blog or use other modern communication media is because they are frightened that “bad things” will happen. Melonie’s post acknowledges this fear, discusses it and argues for the support that a good online, social network give. Melonie also identifies the elephant in the room – the question of what universities and academics are here for – aren’t we the ones who are supposed to, ask the difficult questions, be controversial, open up issues for discussion?

Now, to get away from being quite so serious here are a few things I think you will like to look at. First a video from the Open Access publishers BioMed Central. If you are not sure what all this Open Access and research stuff is about this video will help you understand it – a very good summary of OA from the RCUK supported by Springer. Next on my list of interesting things is a little promotion for Snagit. I find this little programme really useful, I use it all the time for all sorts of stuff – have a go. After you have tried out Snagit you can read these two articles from JISC Inform – great stuff, easy to read, very interesting. There is this piece on Learning in Adverse Weather (I just love that title lol), then some future gazing with, Coming soon… Can you see yourself using any of the things they mention? If you haven’t heard of the Khan Academy you should have done. This is their YouTube channel – see if you can find a session here that is useful to you, I bet you will. Finally a slide show for you about Maximising the potential of your network. Most of the slides are self-explanatory so, even though it does not have a voice over, this is one slide show I don’t mind promoting.

Have a lovely Easter πŸ™‚


What can’t you do online?

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I’ve found quite a hotchpotch of things for you all today. In fact I didn’t find the first item, that came via Paul Williams.

This Prezi is from Royal Holloway, University of London. A great resource for research students and undergrads alike. I’m sure you will like it and the funny video near the end πŸ™‚

I’m guess by now that everyone knows what Creative Commons Licenses are. The CC organisation gets involved in all sorts of things like the Open Data Hackathon earlier in February and the EasyBib Webinar on Thursday 21st. On the site the time says 4pm ET, for us that means 21:00 hrs (9pm). Even if you don’t join in do go and listen to everyone talking about the Open movement.

And now for something completely different πŸ™‚ If any of you are interested in Web Analytics, for example finding out more about your own footprint in Twitter or you want to do some research about networking/social media, you might like to have a look at some of these programmes. Some of them are aimed at commercial sites but that is no reason why they cannot prove useful to people in HE. Some are free – check them out:

    • TwitSprout will collect information and create diagrams from Twitter and Facebook
    • Netlytic will find and automatically analysis and discovery social networks from electronic communication such as emails, forums, blogs and chats.
    • followerwonk will find out all about your own Twitter account
  • There are lots more but I think the above will give you some insight into the sort of thing that can be done πŸ™‚

    Finally something which I think is charming. It shows just how comfortable we are all becoming with technology, the children in this post are not just Digitally Literate they are Digitally Fluent πŸ™‚

    Who, What, umm identity?

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    Today I have brought together seven items that are all, in one way or another, connected to identity. Do have a go at some of them they really are quite good fun πŸ™‚

    First up is Spezify, a visual search engine that will search for any picture with your name on it. Do you know what pictures there are of you online? Go and search for yourself and find out just how visual you are!

    Next comes Pipl another search engine, this one searches for anything about you online, or for anyone else you want to search for.

    By now you should have started to realise how this all connects to questions of identity. So first I looked at how our persona appears online. Now I’m looking at Second Life which provides the opportunity to create a different persona. For those of you who don’t know Second Life is a 3D communication device/social media tool where you can have meetings, or get together with friends to create a special online environment. For those of you new to Second Life (SL) here is the most recent video on how to shop for things in SL. One of the things that people have often complained about with SL is that you can’t access it on a mobile device – well you can now! Lumiya can be run on any Android device, tablet or mobile phone. You can’t do any building in SL with Lumiya but you can do everything else.

    Just what else will researchers come up with? Well one of the things they came up with was touch sensitive devices (haptics or haptic technology). Moving on from there they are now working on how to add touch sensitive technology to telemedicine. So you will not just see and talk to your doctor, nurse or specialist online but you will also be able to feel them! eeek! Read about what the researchers at University of Texas are getting up to.

    I could not resist bringing you this video spoof of how your grandparents use the Internet. At first the video seems dreadful but real but as soon as the presenter says his name is Bob you know it’s a spoof. A really great laugh but it does get you thinking πŸ™‚ It’s on the Digital Tattoo site from the University of British Columbia, excellent site, you might like to take a look round that too.

    Last an old but interesting article from Heloukee on the Paradox of Openness. Yet another view of identity or identities online that should give you some food for thought.

    Games, Apps and Art

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    What a change in the weather! Besides releasing QuileR and SAM I’ve been really busy talking with people about how they are using digital technologies. I’ve been talking to Dr Geoff Kohe and Helen Corke in Sports and Exercise Science, Kay Stonham the Teaching Fellow in Scriptwriting in the Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts and Jenny Edwins Senior Lecturer and Admissions Tutor in Midwifery. They are all such busy people and having wonderful ideas about how to use social media with colleagues and students.

    With my mind honed in on digital media I could not help but notice the site Digital MediaArts Numeriques. There are loads of interesting links on this site, it seems to overflow with excitement. A few news items are written in French, so it’s handy if you have that as a second language. If you are into art go and have a look.

    Just have to tell you about this new game! The academic paper about it is here in PLoS one if you would like to read it. Frederick Chen, an economist at Wake Forest University in North Carolina and his colleagues are using the game to find out about people’s choices when faced with an epidemic/ potential epidemic. Another great way to use virtual worlds for research purposes πŸ™‚

    If you are more technically minded you might be interested in writing an App for a mobile device. This list of tutorials could prove very useful to you. You have to search around a bit on some of the sites to find the actual tutorial but all the same it should prove fun to play with.

    ok folks, enjoy trying out these links, I’m off for a cuppa πŸ™‚

    It is all so exciting!!

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    Now what was I talking about – oh yes, Twitcam. Twitcam is a great little addition to Twitter, just go to their site and follow the really simple instructions. Once connected a Tweet will go out on Twitter giving the url to your live video stream and you can Tweet and/or talk and let people view you all at the same time. Great for giving short demonstrations or for having people join in a discussion. I’ve linked it in to Second Life too, (this video on YouTube shows you how to do it) which will be great for those people who cannot join us in Second Life for the Research Seminars we run there. If you want to find the University of Worcester go into Second Life and search for University of Worcester. Don’t search for it on the Second Life Maps web page, it isn’t working properly (I have reported it to SL).

    Just one more thing today. Go and look at what Mimas are doing now. Mimas are a JISC supported Centre based at Manchester University. Three of us went to see what they were doing with the Scarlet Project which is using virtual reality in education. What they have done now is to bring satellite imagery into the classroom. Really fantastic stuff for educators and students.

    Happiness is a warm computer

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    I hope you are all prepared for tomorrow – it is supposed to be very, very wet! Get your sou’wester and galoshes out folks πŸ™‚

    Just to make you feel really cheerful I bring you a post from The Thesis Whisperer. It’s all about getting in the doldrums when you are working on your thesis but I think the principles can be applied to dissertations too – it’s called The Valley of Shit. Not a very inspiring title but it might just help you get that paper finished rather than throwing up your hands in despair and walking out of the University πŸ™‚

    As I am sure you all know, I am very interested in the use of technology in education, particularly augmented reality and virtual reality. For those of you interested in this sort of thing I thought I’d include a link to a blog I found recently called, Mariis’ explorations of 3D remediation. The post that caught my eye was a discussion on whether Virtual Worlds were games or not – I support the idea that they are communication devices and therefore not games. If you are interested in the academic side of Virtual Worlds and such like you will find this blog and the links from it rather interesting. I found Women Academics in Virtual Environments, a useful ning for getting us girls together πŸ™‚

    Now just a few things to look at for when the sun has come out again and you can go out and play πŸ™‚ How about trying out augmented reality with Junaio? Try out some of the augmented reality already created for you or download the metaio Creator tool and create some of your own. If that doesn’t float your boat how about turning your iPad or iPhone into a remote control and track pad using Mobile Mouse, if you are not already a couch potato this might make you into one – so beware πŸ™‚ If you really can’t be bothered with all that and just want to relax with a good book you might prefer this instead. Try out Free Books, download the app and search away to your heart’s content.

    Hope you all have a lovely wet Thursday πŸ™‚

    Where we are

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    I’ve been working with students and talking to others in Second life today. Second Life is a communication device, it lets us see representations (avatars) of one another, it enables us to talk in text or voice (to groups or individuals), and it gives people the opportunity to build things together, so people can create together anything from art to rapid prototyping. All of this at the click of a button and from anywhere in the world at any time. This tool thus lends itself to teaching (amongst other things), as an acquaintance from Arkansas State University demonstrated for me with the teacher training course they run completely in SL. I don’t intend to dwell on Second Life and how some are doing more with it than others but all this rather got me thinking about communication and communication methods these days.

    Like most other people these days I use a whole range of devices from the physical to the virtual to communicate for work, rest and play. We are all Tweeting, Texting and Scoopiting to our heart’s content, all day. We are communicating at a level of incidence never seen before and we are communicating about all sorts of things. Anything we can think about:

    The above list does not include, of course, all of that everyday communication we carry on all the time with our bank or the local government (for example about housing) or the national government (for example pension claims) or the NHS (for example making appointments at the hospital).

    So if we can’t communicate properly in the modern world, using modern devices of communication we will not only, not know what is happening, more importantly we will not be able to let people know what is happening with/to us.

    Socialise and Learn

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    I went on my induction tour for The Hive this morning. Wow – what a beautiful place! Students won’t start using it until July but I think you are all going to enjoy the space and the facilities provided in this L-space place.

    Seriously busy friending the students who are joining Second Life at the moment. I offer them a teleport, a chance to join our group and advise them to start friending one another. Social spaces are all about being social and being social supports learning! So start getting out there and being social πŸ™‚ It’s not just research students who have to learn to use digital media, we all do if we want to keep learning and growing through all our life. I found this really useful site about Digital Literacy, CyberWhy-s. I like the videos on the page I’ve just directed you to but there are loads more on this site – I was particularly drawn to the part specially for adults. So useful that it’s all on one site though.

    A friend alerted my to an app called that helps you to keep track of all the different social media sites you use (don’t forget the more you socialise the more you learn). This article on the ReadWriteWeb says it is really easy to use – I’m certainly going to give it a try when I have time on the weekend.

    Remember to socialise well – follow the advice from my previous post and the Twitter advice from the LSE. You might also like to try using one of these tools from the Educational Technology and Mobile Learning site. I’ve mentioned Scribblr before, ‘cos I think it’s rather neat but you might like to try one of the others too.

    Connected – World Wide

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    I was talking to a colleague this morning and we were saying how exciting it is to know that you can be connected to people all over the world – at the click of a mouse you can be connected to Australia and America at the same time (if they are awake that is). Are you connected all over the world? Let us know – we’ll work out who has the furthest connection and give you a little prize:)

    If you want to get more connected you have to meet people. You might ask why on earth do I want to meet strangers – well sometimes, in fact quite often, strangers who are interested in the things you are intersested in are quite helpful (and, of course, interesting). Get out there start a blog, join Twitter, join Facebook, join, join Flickr, join Second Life, etc, etc. Join them all together so that friends from one area meet friends from another. Here, get started with the help from this blog post at, “Blogging about the web”.

    I was at a UCISA event last Wednesday and was very impressed by what some universities are doing with social media. I think the best example was this one from Imperial College London. Amongst other things they are using Storify to create a single entity from pieces they gather on special days or occassions – like graduation for example. Anyone want to have a go?

    Writing, writing, writing ….

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    There’s loads I want to talk about today – don’t know if I’ll have the time ‘cos I’m dong the Tom Boellstorff Special Seminar this afternoon – may be I’ll see you there πŸ™‚ (4pmGMT (8amSLT) usualplace )

    How do you feel about writing? I’ll tell you more about where this quote came from in a minute but for a lot of people, from post-grad to post-doc, feel the same sort of things. Such as “I feel discouraged because I fell like I have never done enough research to start writing, … my advisor is so critical that whenever I think of writing I feel inadequate, … I feel that there are rules that everyone knows but me, … I feel ashamed of my writing skills, … I wish my English was better, I feel that if people read my writing they will know that I’m a dumb bunny, … I feel confident that I could do anything if I could just get out of bed, …”. You might think that writing does not have much to do with digital literacy skills but what is it that I’m doing now? I’m WRITING. Even though we live in a digital world we will still have to write, not just notes to the milkman but academic stuff that will be published online. I’ve found a few things on writing most of it is aimed at post-grads but most of it is good advice for under-grads too especially the first one.

    This first sites is from Oxford University Podcasts, I’ve mentioned them before ‘cos I think they are great. An awful lot of the podcasts are free and a lot more cost very, very little and there is something on just about every subject imaginable. The one I’m directing you to today is Critical Reasoning for Beginners, it’s lead my Marianne Talbot who Lectures in Philosophy, manages to make this subject both interesting and fairly easy to follow. I think one of the most reassuring things Marianne says right near the beginning is that she left school at 15 (so there is hope for us all). I would love to have something like this in our curricula here at UoW but at least we have Marianne to help us along the way:)

    I’m also going to direct you to two of my favourite blogs Thesis Whisperer and Networked Researcher. This post, Writing Collaborative Publications during your PhD, was written on Tuesday but I’m glad I didn’t blog about it then as it fits really well in this post. Kylie Budge is a PhD student and gives some good advice on how to get started with writing for publication the first time round (don’t forget to read the comments). This is where I picked up on the book that the quote above came from. Kylie suggests using the book, “Writing your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A guide to academic publishing success” by Wendy Laura Belcher. You can get this book from Amazon, it costs about Β£19 for the eBook and about Β£26 for the Book – well worth money! The book would make a great resource for staff development or PhD studies.

    On the Networked Researcher, Dr Sarah-Louise Quinnell writes about issues of identity, how you might want to portray yourself and how you can help the right image come across. This is a subject I teach about for our PhD students – as this current group is not doing much collaborating I’m worried that I frightened them πŸ™‚ All of this advice should not be frightening, it is about how to deal with things so that they don’t get frightening when you are out there in the big wide metaverse. From a personal point of view, I do tend to share a little bit of me on all my social media sites. For me it’s no different from being in a meeting with people from outside my Department. If you aren’t true to yourself it all comes across as very artificial and untrustworthy.

    Sorry must dash needed in virtuality:)

    Obsessions, arguments and rants

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    Seeing that it is Monday I will try to have my brain in slightly better order than it was on Friday πŸ™‚

    I know I seem to have been writing a lot about Virtual Worlds just lately but there is so much going on about education in them at the moment. One of the things I have just tripped over in my wonderings round the web is the University of West of England (UWE) MA Education in Virtual Worlds. The course will be starting in September, you can go to their web page and register your interest in the course – fantastic!

    I have one more thing about Virtual Worlds then I’ll try to shut up. There has been a call for Chapters for a new IGI book called, Technologies in Urban and Spatial Planning: Virtual Cities and Territories. Ummm, really snappy title eh? Don’t know if any of you do work on urban planning but if you are this could be an opportunity for you.

    Now for something a little different. The language in this cartoon is a little ripe but the idea is really good, though I’m not to sure about learning to eat just to assuage your anger.

    It is so satisfying when someone else rants about the things you rant about πŸ™‚ I’ve just been reading A. J. Cann’s rant (and the following comments) about academic publishers. I must say that I agree with him entirely. Academic publishers appear slow, disorganised and just plain old-fashioned (in a bad way) when compared to the modern methods of communication and publishing. I do wish they would move out of the dark ages and give academia what it needs!

    Friday post

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    I have noted that my posts on Friday’s are a little strange (what you say, stranger than at other times!). I don’t know if the strangeness comes from being tired or from all the stuff buzzing around in my head from everything I’ve read during the week. I feel as if I’ve read rather a lot this week so be warned πŸ™‚

    I like the idea of an organised life – mine isn’t but I can appreciate, probably for that reason, why someone would want to create some order in their life. I pick up on a lot of PhD things and one of them is Eva’s blog (PhD Talk), this lady is an engineer, wow! On Monday Eva was talking about time management software – I never really felt I could trust this stuff, it always feels like time and motion study – it does its thing and then tells you that you have to stop doing what is fun. However, Eva’s blog has convinced me to try it (at sometime when I have the time), it seems to have worked for her.

    Having presented at the conference in Coventry last week, and having written some feedback for Virtual World Watch, things related to Virtual Worlds are bouncing around in my head like a thingy in a jam jar. I put a few things that caught my eye on the site, “Calling All Lecturers“. I also attended a JISC Webinar on Curriculum Design and that has mixed in with my thoughts too. I’m still struggling to get the words to my thoughts out in some sort of order. There are many social media that we can use to change how we teach, not just for the sake of change but because the world is changing and we need to accommodate those changes. We need to accommodate those changes because our current students need to learn how to use these technologies which will increasingly become part of their working lives. We also need to accommodate these changes because HE is changing (whether we like it or not), not just the things like fees but how and why it exists. The students are changing; the types of students, the way they study, the way their lives dictate the time they have to study. Social medial are just part of that change, the move from University as we know it provides technology from commercial software companies. Virtual worlds are just part of that social software, they are not games, just another social media that provides really good opportunities for creating learning environments that are different from what we are used to. They don’t replace anything they just are another tool that makes it easier to create really interesting, flexible, agile curricula.

    There you are, what did I say at the beginning – just a strange stuff πŸ™‚

    The return of the wanderer

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    Phew! That was a busy week just gone. Sorry not to blog from the Innovative Research in Virtual Worlds conference in Coventry – I was just too involved in all the great presentations. All the presentations were recorded so I’ll post a link here once they are published. Suffice to say that I’m back with lots of ideas and some useful connections with people from other HEIs.

    For any of you thinking of doing a PhD do have a look at the post from the Thesis Whisperer’s blog and all the comments to it. People often ask, “should I do a PhD”, the Thesis Whisperer has some answers for you.

    Here is something for everyone working in health. Is a “nice lady” like the one from Northeastern University going to be common-place in a few years? They seem to be getting some good results from using this simulation of a nurse – let me know what you think.

    Whilst I don’t usually show much interest in what Microsoft does, this is just smashing πŸ™‚ You must go and have a look at this video of the Holodesk. Real things, such as hands and books, interacting with virtual things – I just love this – there is so much we could use it for!

    Catching up :)

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    Sorry about yesterday – just became overwhelmed by copyright πŸ™‚ I don’t know if any of you follow our Research Seminars in Second Life but you are all very welcome to join in. the next seminar is on Thursday October 27th at Lunchtime (1200hrs UK time) that’s 8am SLT. Our speaker is Gann McGann (Dr Mar Childs from Coventry Uni), always lots of fun, so be ready for a stimulating discussion on the ethics of teaching in virtual worlds. For more detail see the blog Whilst there see the Special for December 1st with Tom Boellstorff. We’re still at the same place

    I’ve found a few interesting things you might enjoy. If you want to see who is Tweeting terms you are interested in you can use Protovis (this is one I tried earlier). You just type the term in the box and click, it’s easy to see who are the people talking most about your subject. You might pick up more people to connect to for your research. If you want to know more about the technical bits this blog might help.

    Here’s something for the lecturers. I know you are all constantly thinking at least six months ahead about what to do with your module or the course. I thought you might find some tips and articles from JISC helpful when working on the curriculum There’s lots of stuff here on Approaches to Curriculum Design so do take a little time to read through it.

    POETS day!

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    When I was just a tiny student nurse our Sister Tutor called Friday’s POETS day – Push Of Early Tomorrow’s Saturday. I’m not trying to discourage you from being anything but diligent in your work but, for me, Fridays still hold that anticipation of something good just around the corner πŸ™‚

    Sorry about missing yesterday, very busy recording (and presenting) the new Semester’s Research Seminar (in Second Life) on the University of Worcester Island ( The Island isn’t officially adopted by UW but it was created with a JISC grant and some gifted money as part of an elearning project a few years ago. We have a couple of lecturers using it and about three more who would like to use it but the Research Seminars are the only regular thing we do there at the moment. It’s good fun and you can learn a lot about researching, education and virtual worlds. We often get people from all over the world joining in not just lecturers and researchers from the UK so we get a lot of cross-fertilisation of ideas. I haven’t edited the video of the meeting yet but you can keep up with what’s in the diary on the Research Seminars page on my other blog.

    Now then what have I found interesting recently – let me see.

    Oh yes, 33 Interesting ways to use Mobile Phones (in the classroom). This is quite a long PowerPoint presentation but there are lots ideas that both lecturers and students might like to try out. I particularly like number 6 – I really like videos that show me how to do things – have a look πŸ™‚

    I found this off-shoot from Instagram, it’s their Webstagram Photo of the Day. There are some smashing photo’s on here – why not give Instagram and their photo album Keepsy a go and see if your photos end up on Photo of the Day? Some of you more technically minded people might like to try the Computable Document Format from Wolfram to add interactivity to your blogs.

    Talking of blogs and by extension blog posts, there are three I’d like to draw your attention to. The first one is a blog I’ve mentioned before Networked Researcher. I thought some of you might be interested in the post, Social Media as a Research Environment. The same chap who wrote that post also writes his own blog, Not a PhD Thesis which I thought could be interesting to you researcher students out there. The final one is, The Thesis Whisperer. Some amusing though perspicacious insights into Thesis writing.

    Enjoy the weekend my friends.

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