Thursday, April 4, 2013

Inspirational future of learning video

What will the future of learning look like? GOOD magazine created a video that discusses technology-oriented visions from Whole-in-the-Wall and Khan academy to serious gaming. The video features education innovators like Dr. Sugata Mitra, visiting professor at MIT; Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy; and Dr. Catherine Lucey, Vice Dean of Education at UCSF.

The video suggests that the current school system is still based on Victorian-age ideals (such as submission) and industrial age skills (such as arithmetic . People featured in the video suggest that education needs to prepare students for the post-industrial world. Basic arithmetic skills are now less relevant than reading comprehension, information search and retrieval skills, and critical evaluation skills.

Order of academic authorship (and how to avoid conflicts)

Photo by Shironosov/ iStock

Academic papers are often co-authored by several authors, from two to several hundred (for example in CERN physics studies).

Rules for the order of multiple authors vary by discipline, but generally there are three possibilities:
  • By degree of contribution: Authors are listed in descending order of contribution. The principal investigator is often placed last in the author list. However, some universities want to change this practice by only having the principal investigator listed if he/she actively contributed to that particular paper.
  • Alphabetically: Authors are listed in alphabetical order (by family name).
  • Random: Authors are listed in randomized order (rarely used).
In theory, deciding on an order of authors should be a straightforward process. However, disputes over the order of authors can ensue. Ilakovac (2007) in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reported that over two-thirds of 919 surveyed authors disagreed with their coauthors regarding contributions of each author.

There are several suggestions how to avoid authorship conflicts (compiled from source #1 and source #2):

1) Who counts as an author? Only people who made substantial, direct, intellectual contributions should be listed as authors. All authors should meet the following three criteria, and all those who meet the criteria should be authors:
a. Scholarship: Contribute significantly to the conception, design, execution, and/or analysis and interpretation of data.
b. Authorship: Participate in drafting, reviewing, and/or revising the manuscript for intellectual content.
c. Approval: Approve the manuscript to be published.
People who provided technical services, administration, acquisition of funding, collection of data, editorial writing, or general supervision should not be listed as co-authors but mentioned in the acknowledgement section (see argument here).

2) Responsibilities of lead author: As a practical matter in the case of publications with multiple authors, one author should be designated as the lead author. The lead author assumes overall responsibility for the manuscript, and also often serves as the managerial and corresponding author, as well as providing a significant contribution to the research effort. A lead author is not necessarily the principal investigator or project leader. The lead author is responsible for:
a. Authorship: Including as co-authors all and only those individuals who meet the authorship criteria set forth in this policy.
b. Approval: Providing the draft of the manuscript to each individual contributing author for review and consent for authorship. The lead author should obtain from all coauthors their agreement to be designated as such and their approval of the manuscript. A journal may have specific requirements governing author review and consent, which must be followed.
c. Integrity: The lead author is responsible for the integrity of the work as a whole, and ensuring that reasonable care and effort has been taken to determine that all the data are complete, accurate, and reasonably interpreted.

3) Responsibilities for co-authors: All co-authors of a publication are responsible for:
a. Authorship: By providing consent to authorship to the lead author, co-authors acknowledge that they meet the authorship criteria set forth in section 1 of this policy. A coauthor should have participated sufficiently in the work to take responsibility for appropriate portions of the content.
b. Approval: By providing consent to authorship to the lead author, co-authors are acknowledging that they have reviewed and approved the manuscript.
c. Integrity: Each co-author is responsible for the content of all appropriate portions of the manuscript, including the integrity of any applicable research.

4) Talk about contributions early: Co-authors should talk early in the process about the order of authorship, degree/kind of contribution, and the decision-making process (how decisions are made and who has final say if a consensus is not reached). The order of authors is a collective decision of the authors (not just by the lead author).

5) Deal with disagreements: If disagreement arises, make every effort to resolve the dispute locally among the authors. If necessary, get the principal investigator or the Ombuds office involved.

6) Revise degrees of contributions: If authorship seems straightforward, the order of authors can be arranged in advance but with the caveat that this could change if contributions change significantly. Create a culture of transparency and revisit the issue of order of authorship periodically in case contributions (or assumptions about contributions) have changed. Towards the end of the writing process, each co-author should describe his/her contributions and what he/she thinks every other author contributed (this can reveal misunderstandings and provides the opportunity for clarification).

7) Approve final document: Each co-author should review drafts and approve the final version before submission.

8) Describe contributions for reader: When submitting to the journal, include a short description of each co-author's contributions and how order was assigned to help readers interpret roles correctly.

Ilakovac V, Fister K, Marusic M, Marusic A (January 2007)."Reliability of disclosure forms of authors' contributions".Canadian Medical Association Journal 176 (1): 41–6.doi:10.1503/cmaj.060687