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Digital Media for Academics

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Academic scholarship is being transformed in the digital era. In this talk, meant for grad students and early career researchers, I discuss 10 things you can do to share your research.

Academic scholarship is being transformed in the digital era. In this talk, meant for grad students and early career researchers, I discuss 10 things you can do to share your research.

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  • Many thanks to Arlene Stein & Jodi O’Brien for inviting me to present at this workshop…
  • Please feel empowered to live Tweet if you ’ re so inclined.... I might suggest these hashtags for our conversation today.
  • If you ’ re not familiar, hashtags are just a way to keep track of a discussion thread across short updates on Twitter.
  • Academic scholarship is being transformed in the digital era. In contrast to the 20th c. legacy model, the emerging, 21st c. model of academic scholarship is digital, open, connected to the public sphere, worldly. This has profound implications for our understanding what it means to be a scholar right now.
  • John Sibley Butler, another professor of mine in grad school, was fond of saying, “ If you worked at IBM, you ’ d have to produce – why would a university be any different? ” You may disagree with his IBM=university equivalency, but he ’ s not wrong about the underlying expectation and you should recognize this is the expectation.
  • And, of course, there ’ s very bad news in academia regarding the way we hire (or don ’ t hire) faculty. 73%=76% of all instructional workforce in higher ed = adjunct faculty. Image from here: http://www.schoolleadership20.com/forum/topics/25-telling-facts-about-adjunct-faculty-today
  • Given the grim prospects for legacy tenure-track jobs in the academy, a lot of people w/ PhDs are going to do other things with those skills. Image from here: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/02/how-many-phds-actually-get-to-become-college-professors/273434/
  • Along with that, there ’ s a ‘ counting game ’ or ‘ algorithm ’ that underpins academia.
  • Here ’ s how it works: your date of degree becomes your new DOB, and it ’ s used to assess your productivity. DOPhD becomes the denominator, # of pubs the numerator = rate productivity; a post-doc can extend the ‘ freshness ’ of your degree, but the expectation (in the social sciences and humanities) is still that you ’ ll get out a minimum of three (3) publications a year. In fundamental ways, academia is a counting game. Learn to make what you ’ re doing “ count, ” in some way that has academic currency. Create a spreadsheet to count “ knowledge products. ” With my “ stale ” PhD, I had a real math problem -- my date of PhD was ages ago and my # of pubs was low, but I improved that quotient by producing (see #1 above).
  • It ’ s also true that the academy is changing, if slowly.
  • There is definitely change coming in higher ed / academia ~ it ’ s a great time if you can be fluid, learn new things, adapt. I predict it may be less fun for you if this you are attached to old ways of doing things. Image from here: http://pandodaily.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/change-ahead.jpg?w=584&h=438
  • However, this is not a complete transition from a “ legacy ” past that is behind us, and a “ digital ” present or future. The legacy and the digital are imbricated and overlap in the here and now.
  • To state the obvious, there has been an expansion of digital technologies. For some, this has been ‘ transformative ’ because it is so different than the analog. For others who were “ born digital ” these are simply the way things are. Whichever group you fall into, these digital technologies have already begun transforming scholarly communication.
  • Simply put, the shift from analog to digital is about code.... coding information into binary code of 1 ’ s and 0 ’ s. When this happens, information - data –research – scholarship - is easier to move around, edit, analyze + to share. Image from here: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/D83AI8LmcuyqyfnvS6qk1Q
  • There are new and expanding possibilities, in part because of digital media.
  • And, there are more opportunities for scholars to own their own work in ways that were possible before.
  • Here, I’m going to talk about 10 things you can do that will help you produce (+ share) knowledge in the digital media era.
  • Here, I’m going to talk about 10 things you can do that will help you produce (+ share) knowledge in the digital media era.
  • There ’ s a misperception sometimes among PhD students that you ’ re being trained to “ think ” or “ write ” or (rarely) “ teach. ” In fact, the training and the expectation is that you ’ re going to be able to “ produce knowledge, ” which encompasses thinking, writing and (sometimes) teaching, but it ’ s actually something slightly different.
  • In 20 th century modes of knowledge production, people thought in terms of discrete products – like books or articles, typically closed, locked behind paywall – impossible to read for those outside the academy. Image from: https://shardsofchina.wordpress.com/tag/average-wage/
  • And, your knowledge production should increase over time…. look something like this….from date of degree to tenure.
  • With digital media, you can share that knowledge more openly.
  • In the 21 st century, people are beginning to talk about and to produce knowledge “streams” that flow out of the academy and that you can easily step into and out of. These new knowledge streams do not replace the legacy “knowledge products” but rather augment them. We might begin to think of “ knowledge streams ” (those traditional objects alongside digital ones like a podcast series, a blog, or a short web video about your work).
  • Scholar are now using videos + podcasts to tell a story about their research, knowledge streams made possible by digital media. “ It’s an interesting visual showing how an extended slinky hovers in midair when dropped. The dramatic demonstration is followed by the scientific explanation. What’s cool about the video is that the researcher shows the raw model on the computer and talks about the experiment, but it’s the intro that grabs your attention. The demo is intriguing and compels you into wanted to learn more. It’s Matrix stuff! Along with the video there is also a link to the pre-print of the paper providing everyone with open access to the scholarly material. It’s a great way to promote a paper. The video has over one million views and over nine hundred comments. …This is exactly what research libraries are talking about: data, visualization, modeling, social media, etc. While the open access aspect of the article enables people to read the work, it’s the YouTube video that creates buzz building word of mouth and fueling discovery. Now the sad thing is that a tenure committees probably would not factor this in, but imagine being able to put something in your review packet that says: I did this experiment, wrote a paper, and over one million people learned about my research. Talk about alt metrics…” “ he average number of citations for all refereed publications is LESS THAN ONE. Even if only 1 in 10 of the people who viewed this result online actually learned something, that's a much greater impact than the average article has. That has to be a good thing. Science and other academic disciplines have been satisfied with talking to themselves for too long.  Online is more important than in-person because none of us will ever contact 1 million 'readers' any other way. ” Source: http://chronicle.com/blognetwork/theubiquitouslibrarian/2012/11/17/research-should-be-produced-not-just-published/
  • Academia (even on the tenure-track) is becoming more and more grant-driven,
  • It’s beyond the scope of my remarks here, but the shortest version of this message is that sharing your scholarly work through digital media relies on principles of “open access.” If you’re not familiar with the open access debate in academia, Peter Suber’s book is a good place to start: http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/open-access. And, if someone tells you to embargo your dissertation, tell them there’s no evidence to support such a stance and that they’re doing the bidding of for-profit publishers protecting their bottom lines, see: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/07/26/despite-warnings-young-scholars-could-be-doomed-open-access-dissertations-evidence
  • Academia (even on the tenure-track) is becoming more and more grant-driven,
  • These new kinds of knowledge streams (and measurement) don ’ t replace the “ knowledge products ” of traditional academia they augment those. For example, when you write submit a paper to traditional, peer-reviewed journal you want to think about optimizing the title of that paper for search engines. As another example, a peer-reviewed article that gets Tweeted will get more citations in the traditional academic literature. http://www.biggerbrains.com/optimize-your-article-for-SEO
  • More than a 1/3 of faculty are now using Twitter….you can use this to share your work. “ The Faculty Focus survey of nearly 2,000 higher education professionals found that almost a third (30.7 percent) of the 1,958 respondents who completed the survey are usingTwitter in some capacity. More than half (56.4 percent) say they’ve never used Twitter.The remaining 12.9 percent of respondents say they tried it, but no longer use it.” http://www.scribd.com/doc/19253028/Twitter-in-Higher-Education-Usage-Habits-and-Trends-of-Todays-College-Faculty “ We also find that the volume of Twitter mentions is statistically correlated with arXiv downloads and early citations just months after the publication of a preprint, with a possible bias that favors highly mentioned articles.” Shuai X, Pepe A, Bollen J (2012) How the Scientific Community Reacts to Newly Submitted Preprints: Article Downloads, Twitter Mentions, and Citations. PLoS ONE 7(11): e47523. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047523 http://www.ploscollections.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0047523
  • Digital media skills - These could save your ass - whether you're leaving academia or trying to get into academia.
  • Given this context, what are academics to do to resist the forces of commercialization? I argue that owning the content of your own professional identity is key to this... For most faculty, their "web presence" is a page on a departmental website that they have no control over and cannot change or update even if they wanted to. "Reclaiming the web" means owning your own domain name and managing it yourself, a move Jim Groom has put forward for students + I argue should be the default strategy for faculty. Too often academics, + especially sociologists want to "resist" commercialization by "refusing" the digital and I think this is misplaced and reflects a misunderstanding of the forces at play here. "reclaiming the web" - and owning our own words, our own professional identity is just one step. You can own your own domain name or just use a free service like “ about.me ”
  • Digital media skills - These could save your ass - whether you're leaving academia or trying to get into academia.
  • I share this screenshot of my Google scholar profile not as shameless self-promotion, but rather to illustrate how "reclaiming the web" + doing public sociology can work to your advantage in academia. This is part of how I moved back into academia from a detour I took to work in private industry at a tech startup. When I started the RR blog, I was a marginally employed academic, teaching as an adjunct, and trying to get published in “ legacy ” journals. At the same time, I was blogging regularly. Today, I ’ m tenured, full with a host of ‘ legacy ’ publications in traditional venues. But the reality is most people know me through my blog and Twitter presence, not my books or articles. Sometimes these new ways of measuring influence are referred to as “ altmetrics ” http://altmetrics.org/manifesto/.
  • Broaden networks – not only because it will help your career – but also to build “deep tenure.”
  • social media makes it easier to build your networks
  • Networking on the Network http://vlsicad.ucsd.edu/Research/Advice/network.html Phil Agre's fundamentals of professional networking: (1) Know your goals. (2) Identify some relevant people. (3) Court these people individually. (4) Meet this person face-to-face at a professional meeting. (5) Exchange drafts. (6) Follow up. This networking the network + articulating a theme and producing work around it – is what Agre refers to as “ deep tenure. ”
  • Networking on the Network http://vlsicad.ucsd.edu/Research/Advice/network.html Phil Agre's fundamentals of professional networking: (1) Know your goals. (2) Identify some relevant people. (3) Court these people individually. (4) Meet this person face-to-face at a professional meeting. (5) Exchange drafts. (6) Follow up. This networking the network + articulating a theme and producing work around it – is what Agre refers to as “ deep tenure. ”
  • Pat Collins: Go where people want to hear what you have to say. Seth Godin: A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, or an idea. Now the Internet helps make tribes bigger, easier to connect with. http://mixergy.com/seth-godin-tribe/
  • And, you want to not only find the people who are thinking about the same things you are, you want to articulate a central idea – and produce something around that idea.
  • Example: Nathan Jurgenson and PJ Rey – Theorizing the Web.
  • Given the political + economic realities of academic jobs in which not everyone wants to be a traditional academic, and among those who think they want to be one won’t get the chance, ….
  • we live in exciting times for doing different things, for reimagining what it means to be an academic. The fact is, there are lots of people with PhDs who have happy, successful careers outside academia. Between 1990 and 2004, only 32% of those with PhDs in History went onto a tenure-track position in a History Department, the other 68% did something other than the tenure-track.
  • Bernice Johnson Reagon, PhD, history – 1975 – Howard University.
  • Reagon is one of the founders of Sweet Honey in the Rock … and she found a way to make art… that was informed by her research.
  • She also consulted on the musical choices in the documentary series Eyes on the Prize.
  • Some of the best sociology exists in the form of documentary film, such as the “Up” series by Michael Apted. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Up_Series If you’re interested in documentaries for use in the sociology classroom, you may want to consult this list: http://sociologythroughdocumentaryfilm.pbworks.com/w/page/17194965/FrontPage
  • Make news….like these two. MHP’s show especially features scholars, activists and journalists talking about the most pressing social issues of the day through a critical lens.
  • Tell the ASA to offer pre-conference workshops in digital media skills
  • One of those job-search, self-help aphorisms is: “ Employers hire people to solve problems . ” It turns out to be true, and true for academia as well. Typically, the ‘ problems ’ you are being hired to solve are to 1) raise the profile of your department, your institution, 2) gain institutional resources for the department, 3) cover the courses the dept has to offer, and 4) produce students with degrees (here it ’ s to produce people with PhDs). Increasingly, one of the ‘ problems ’ academic administrators are identifying is that they are failing to teach social media. So, with some skills in digital + social media… you can be someone who can solve this problem, and thereby increase your appeal on the job market. http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/09/26/universities-are-failing-at-teaching-social-media/
  • Mediacamp workshops at the CUNY J-School, August 8-9, 2013 . http://justpublics365.commons.gc.cuny.edu/mediacamp/
  • Medicamp workshops are a collaboration between CUNY Graduate Center and the CUNY School of journalism through the project JustPublics@365. 365 = days of year, also address of the Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue. Grad Center tag line: “ The life of the mind in the heart of the city. ” In many ways, the project is a “ public sociology ” initiative. http://justpublics365.commons.gc.cuny.edu/ Funded by the Ford Foundation.
  • Thanks & let’s continue the conversation online.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Digital Media for Academics Jessie Daniels, PhD CUNY – Graduate Center ASA – Professional Development Workshop August 12, 2013
    • 2. Twitter: @JessieNYC
    • 3. #ASA13 #PhDchat
    • 4. 21st century, digital, open, connected to the public sphere, worldly. “digital scholarship”
    • 5. be savvy about academia
    • 6. # of pubs your rate of productivity date of PhD
    • 7. some of academia is changing
    • 8. digitallegacy
    • 9. expansion of digital media
    • 10. expanding possibilities
    • 11. more opportunities to own your work
    • 12. ten things you can do
    • 13. first thing:
    • 14. produce some knowledge
    • 15. 20th century knowledge “products”
    • 16. Date of Degree Tenure
    • 17. #2. share that knowledge openly
    • 18. 21st century knowledge “streams”
    • 19. use video or podcast to tell a story
    • 20. #3. use your institutional repository
    • 21. share pre-print versions of papers
    • 22. #4. make your work searchable
    • 23. #5. create & control your own web presence
    • 24. #6. track your influence
    • 25. #7. build your networks
    • 26. meet in person
    • 27. #8. find your tribe &
    • 28. articulate a theme
    • 29. #9. re-invent
    • 30. what it means to be an intellectual
    • 31. PhD in History
    • 32. PhDs in Political Science
    • 33. #10. tell the ASA to offer pre-conference workshops in digital media skills
    • 34. Twitter: @JessieNYC #ASA13 #PhDchat Thank you! If you’d like to continue the conversation:

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