Category Archives: research

Final Début Volume under my editorship.

The last volume of Début: the undergraduate journal of languages, linguistics and area studies I will edit is going online in the next week or so.  I thought I'd share a bit of my editorial.

Editorial: All change at Début

John Canning

Final-year projects and dissertations (FYPD) undertaken by students at the end of their Bachelor degree courses are a topic of current interest in many countries. It is timely to reassert the importance of FYPD and to rethink their role in the curriculum as the context of higher education changes. (Healy et al 2013).

Every year thousands of undergraduates undertake a final year project, an independent study or some other form of original research. Most of this research is never seen by anyone outside the student's own department. I don't know if a copy of my own undergraduate dissertation still exists somewhere in depths of Aberystwyth University. I think I had my own copy, if it survives it is probably in my parents' attic. As far as I know it was not read by anyone other than those who marked it. I can't recall receiving any feedback on it, except the mark which was printed alongside the results of my other modules.

I don't regard the non-publication of my own undergraduate work as a great loss to the world. In contrast I regard setting up Début : the undergraduate journal of languages, linguistics and area studies which enables others to publish their undergraduate work as one of my major achievements. Undergraduate (and recently graduated) authors have received feedback on their work from academics outside their own institutions. They have revised their work and made great work even better.

This is my final edition as Debut Editor. I would like to thank all the authors, reviewers, colleagues at LLAS in Southampton, and colleagues all over the world who have urged their students to submit their work to Début : the undergraduate journal of languages, linguistics and area studies 4 (2013)

Without all these people Début would not be possible.

From September 2013 Billy Clark, Senior Lecturer in English Language at Middlesex University will be taking over as editor.

I look forward to seeing Début  prosper under Billy's leadership and wish him all the best.

Reference

Healey M., L.Lannin, A, Stibbe and J. Derounian (2013) Developing and enhancing undergraduate final year projects and dissertations. York: Higher Education Academy. Available from: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/projects/detail/ntfs/ntfsproject_Gloucestershire10

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

AQUAD 7: Free Qualitative research software (brief notes)

A while back I wrote a short post about WEFT QDA, a free research package for qualitative data analysis. I was postive about it because, alough quite basic, was very user friendly. As I am undertaking a short evaluation project at present I thought I would revisit it. I spotted from the website that it has not been updated since 2006 and was optimised for Windows XP. When I wrote that ‘review’ I was running Windows XP on my work computer. I haven’t done much qualitative stuff recently so until today I had not tried it since I upgraded to Windows 7 at work. I could not get it to work. The author is no longer working on it, and I (for one) do not have the expertise to do anything with the source code. This is one of the hazards of free software of course!

My research led me to try out AQUAD 7 Screenshot(Analysis of Qualitative Data).  On the up side this is a very powerful piece of software, which can be used in the analysis of pictures and sound files as well as text and enables linkages, keyword hierarchies and some basic statistical functions (e.g. Chi-square). If that wasn’t enough there even seems to be some compatibility with the free statistics software “R”. On the downside this is definitely not a piece of software you can install and get working right away. The 200 page manual is compulsory reading to get started though the authors have provided some demonstration files which are useful. I’m still trying to get to grasp with the different file types which can be used to create lists of codes and metacodes. I haven’t found it particularly intuitive, but it has so much functionality I’m going to stick with it.

In conclusion this is definitely a piece of software worth exploring if you are looking for free qualitative data analysis software. The most striking thing about the manual is the way it explains the software by reference to theoretical frameworks from the qualitative research literature, something I can’t say I’ve seen in a software manual before. The software was originally developed in German, and there are odd places where translation has not taken place. For the most part the German only appears when you do something wrong!

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

12 objections to open access and why they’re not valid

Last Friday I did presentation on YazikOpen, my website for open access language teaching research, at the LLAS e-learning symposium. It has put me the mood for rebutting some the arguments I hear against open access.

1. I work for a big university. I find I can get most of what I need. If I really need something I get it on inter-library loan.

Good for you. Not so good for the general public, the independent/ unemployed academic, the researcher at a non-profit/ government organisation, the academic at a less well-funded institution or working poorer countries.

2. If anyone wants to read my work they can email me and I’ll send them a copy.

Good, but it would be nicer if they didn’t have to ask. And would they know they could contact you? Or how to contact you?

3. Journals charge a lot of money to make articles open access.

Some do but not all. Some charge nothing at all.

4. Open access journals are low quality. I don’t want my work published in them.

No doubt some are, but all of them? Really?

5. Journal publishers provide an important service. They typeset the articles, proofread them, print them and organise review.

Do they really organise review?  In this day and age do they really do anything which justifies the huge subscriptions? They have few costs. Most don’t pay authors, editors or reviewers.

6. My professional society depends on journal subscriptions for its funding.

Maybe, but is this really the case? You can still sell print copies. It might be sensible to explore other means of funding.

7. I sympathise with open access but I need to publish in Big Major Amazing High Impact Journal, for the REF/ tenure/promotion/ job opportunities/ the respect of my peers.

I don’t doubt it. But as academics we own the system. We have made to what it is. It can’t change the system unless academics are prepared to change.

8. I don’t think the general public are interested in my research anyway.

You seem to have a low view of your own work!

9. People might misinterpret my work

Research doesn’t need to be open access to be misinterpreted. In fact if your work is open access they might depend less on journalists’ interpretations of your work based on a press release.

10. Didn’t the Finch report recommend increasing funding for universities to pay commercial publishers to make articles open access? That means publishers keep all their profits and universities (thereby the taxpayer) pay more. That doesn’t make sense! What if my university refuses to let me publish in Big Fancy Journal to save on publication fees or starts rationing publication funds?

OK, I agree. It will only make matters worse. The Finch report was a missed opportunity. The only winners in such a system would be the commercial publishers.

11. You open access advocates forget publishing costs money. There are fees involved in webhosting, editing, marketing, formatting, proofreading, printing etc.  This is the role of the commercial publishers.

Yes, but they more than get their money back by charging universities exorbitant fees to buy the results of the research our employers (directly or indirectly) paid for us to do in the first place. I’m sure consortia of universities could undercut them.

12. I don’t really want my spouse, parents, children, friends, church, football buddies, knitting circle, to know about the research I am doing. It might upset them and they’ll hate me. Closed access gives me privacy

Sorry, this one is beyond my expertise.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

No open learning without open access: a portal for open access research into teaching modern languages.

LLAS logo

My abstract for the LLAS 8thannual elearning symposium next January has been accepted, so all begin well I will be speaking about YazikOpen and broader issues surrounding open access there. The symposium will take place in Southampton on 24-25 January 2013.

Abstract

The effectiveness of Open Educational Resources (OER) and Mass Open Online Courses (MOOCs) can be seriously undermined by lack of open access to original academic research. Copyright restrictions and subscription fees mean that most research is completely unavailable to those who are not staff or students at a university, or who work in institutions or countries where financial resources are very limited. At best, those with limited access to original research are forced to rely on the summaries and interpretations of others.

This presentation showcases YazikOpen.org.uk a portal for open access research into the teaching and learning of modern foreign languages. The portal catalogues language teaching research published in open access journals or on open websites. This research is available to anybody, anywhere in the world with access to the internet without viewing or subscription fees.open access logo

Those teaching on courses relating to language teaching (e.g. TEFL, Applied Linguistics, Teaching Training etc.), whether face-to-face or online, can search YazikOpen to identify course readings which will be available to all students, irrespective of institution, geographical location or access to financial resources. Open access also means that original research is accessible to practitioners such as schoolteachers, Teachers of English as a Second/ Foreign Language, teachers at language clubs and teachers of languages in the community. Bringing down access barriers also means that practitioners and other interested parties can engage in debates and publish their own research with fewer disadvantages.

The presentation will also explore the wider discussions currently taking place about open access from the ethical as well as the financial and organisational perspectives. Open access to research is also crucial in ensuring that MOOCs are genuinely open and inclusive and do not perpetrate the current privileges of students and staff in well-resourced institutions.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

British Academy publishes position statement on quantitative skills

From the British Academy 'Society Counts' webpage.

The British Academy has launched a Position Statement on the issue of a quantitative skills deficit in the humanities and social sciences. Well-rounded graduates equipped with core quantitative skills are vital if the UK is to retain its status as a world leader in research and higher education, rebuild its economy and create a modern participating citizenry. Quantitative methods facilitate ‘blue skies’ research, and without them, effective, evidence-based policy-making would be unthinkable. Yet, the UK currently displays weak quantitative ability within its humanities and social sciences.

The online book for Statistics for Humanities I am working on is funded under the Languages and Quantitative Skills programme.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon