# LLAS e-Learning Symposium 2013 taster video.

Created by the Digital Champions of the University of Southampton. #elearnLLAS #digichamps

# 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.

# New collection for PGR research training on HumBox

I've put some of the materials I use with the Postgraduate Research Students into a new collection on  HumBox

# Socratic circles for critical thinking: an exercise with PhD students

I promised that my ‘Critical Thinking 2’ session for the PhD students would focus more on the development of oral critical thinking skills.  I came across the idea of ‘Socratic Circles’* and thought I would give it a try. I did it slightly differently to the linked document – for example I did not distribute the texts in advance. I shared some thoughts about the concept of ‘critical thinking’. These are explored more in Critical Thinking 1 (which not all the students had done—this wasn’t really supposed to be the case).

• Not making assumptions
• Precise questions
• Thinking carefully about what other people say
• Being able to defend your opinion
• Open to the possibility of being wrong
• Making time for thinking

What I did

1. I had seven students in the session who I divided into two groups.
2. I distributed to each individual a sheet of paper with two quotes:

TEXT 1

"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:

• the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
• ·         the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs."

World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). Our common future. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987 p. 43. [Bruntland Report]

TEXT 2

“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”
― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

On reflection the second quote was too complicated, whereas all the students were able to discuss the first. I will choose another if I do this again.

3. I gave the students a few minutes to read the quotes and make notes if they wished.
4. The first group sat in the centre of the room and discussed Quote 1 whilst the second group observed.
5. The discussion time was set at about 10 minutes. I had minimal input into the discussion and the observing group were not allowed to comment or intervene.
6. After the discussion, the second group had ten minutes to discuss what had just witnessed. Before the discussion I suggested the observing group look out for:

1. Arguments and opinions put forward
2. Where and when opinions were challenged or not challenged.
3. Was there anything which surprised them or particularly stood out.
4. Did any of the participants appear to change their views?
5. The groups then swapped over the group which previously observed discussed quote 2 and those who had discussed quote 1 observes. This was a struggle, in part because the students found the quote much harder to understand.

What was got out of it?

I did not know quite how this was going to work out. The discussion of the second quote did not go well at all, but it was encouraging to observe the discussion the sustainable development quote went . There was a high level of critical thinking displayed in thinking about the content of the quote, and whether, as it was written in 1987 was it appropriate for 2013? Ideas of wants and needs were discussed. A discussion on vegetarianism was particularly interesting.

In a short 10 minute discussion the students were able to dig into the complexities of the sustainable development quote, thinking about assumptions, definitions, actions which might be needed, who was responsible, how behaviour needs to change and the ethics of asking ‘less developed countries’ to forego the development and prosperity experienced by the ‘west’. It wasn’t the purpose of the task to come to a consensus or a conclusion.

I did this exercise PhD students. It might be a risky with undergraduates who might be reluctant to talk and fully participate.

Will I do it again?

I will try it again. I will definitely use a different second quote. I might reflect more on the outcomes, but the process is central to the exercise.  There might be a case for distribution a longer passage of text in advance, but then I would have to rely on students reading and thinking about it before the session.

*Some things on this website are a bit ‘out there’, but I thought this exercise was worth a try.

# Why you should graph data

Amended 10 March 2016 (corrections/ update made)

I came across Anscombe’s Quartet on Wikipedia recently. I must confess to not having seen it before and don’t recall seeing it in any introductory statistics books.

The Anscombe’s Quartet is a conceptually and graphically clear way of showing the importance of graphs in statistical analysis. Each of the 11 pairs of observations have the same, x mean, y mean, x variance, y variance, correlation co-efficient and regression equation, though each have very different distributions. They clearly demonstrate the impact of outliers and how non-linear relationships can be identified.

Citation:

F. J. Anscombe (1973) Graphs in Statistical Analysis The American Statistician , Vol. 27, No. 1 (Feb., 1973), pp. 17-21

Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2682899 (Not open access)

LaTeX code below.
 \documentclass{article} \usepackage{pgfplots} \usepackage{pgfplotstable} \pgfplotsset{compat=1.7} \usepackage{amssymb, amsmath} \usepackage{subcaption} \begin{document} \begin{figure} \caption{Anscombe's quartet is a good demonstration why a scatterplot is so valuable, prior to calculating regression equations and correlation co-efficients. In all four cases the $x's$ have a mean of 9, and variance of 11. The mean of all the $y's$ is 7.5, and a variance 4.125. The correlation co-efficient of each is 0.816 and the linear regression line is $y=3+0.5x$} \begin{subfigure}{.45 \textwidth} \centering \caption{Normal linear relationship} \begin{tikzpicture} \begin{axis} [width=5cm, height=5cm, xlabel=X1, ylabel=Y1] \addplot[scatter, only marks, mark=x, mark size=4pt] coordinates { (10, 8.04) (8.0, 6.95) (13, 7.58) (9, 8.81) (11, 8.33) (14, 9.96) (6, 7.24) (4, 4.26) (12, 10.84) (7, 4.82) (5, 5.68) }; \addplot[scatter, mark=.] coordinates { (0, 4.1) (20, 12.5) }; \end{axis} \end{tikzpicture} \end{subfigure} \begin{subfigure}{.45 \textwidth} \centering \caption{Relationship clear, but not linear} \begin{tikzpicture} \begin{axis}[width=5cm, height=5cm, xlabel=X2, ylabel=Y2] \addplot[scatter, only marks, mark=x, mark size=4pt] coordinates { (10, 9.14) (8.0, 8.14) (13, 8.74) (9, 8.77) (11, 9.26) (14, 8.10) (6, 6.13) (4, 3.1) (12, 9.13) (7, 7.26) (5, 4.74) }; \addplot[scatter, mark=.] coordinates { (0, 4.1) (20, 12.5) }; \end{axis} \end{tikzpicture} \end{subfigure} \ \begin{subfigure}{.45 \textwidth} \centering \caption{Clear linear relationship, but one outlier offsets the regression line} \begin{tikzpicture} \begin{axis} [width=5cm, height=5cm, xlabel=X3, ylabel=Y3] \addplot[scatter, only marks, mark=x, mark size=4pt] coordinates { (10, 7.46) (8.0, 6.77) (13, 12.74) (9, 7.11) (11, 7.81) (14, 8.84) (6, 6.08) (4, 5.39) (12, 8.15) (7, 6.42) (5, 5.73) }; \addplot[scatter, mark=.] coordinates { (0, 4.1) (20, 12.5) }; \end{axis} \end{tikzpicture} \end{subfigure} \begin{subfigure}{.45 \textwidth} \centering \caption{Clear relationship, but one outlier puts the regression line at 45 degrees to the other 10 observations} \begin{tikzpicture} \begin{axis} [width=5cm, height=5cm, xlabel=X4, ylabel=Y4] \addplot[scatter, only marks, mark=x, mark size=4pt] coordinates { (8, 6.58) (8.0, 5.76) (8, 7.71) (8, 8.84) (8, 7.04) (8, 5.26) (19, 12.5) (8, 5.56) (8, 7.91) (8, 6.89) (8, 6.89) }; \addplot[scatter, mark=.] coordinates { (0, 4.1) (20, 12.5) }; \end{axis} \end{tikzpicture} \end{subfigure} \end{figure} \end{document} 

# Come to 2013 LLAS e-learning symposium (+hear about YazikOpen)

Don't forget to register for the 2013 LLAS e-learning symposium at the University of Southampton.

Keynote speakers

Also

Hear more about open access and yazikopen.

# Gordon Frank Canning (1918-2012)

Happy New Year!

In the history books 2012 will be remembered for the Olympics and British sporting triumph. For me, it marked a big change in my life following the death of my grandfather in March, just a couple of weeks short of his 94th birthday. Like most men of his generation he fought in the Second World War, mainly in North Africa and Italy. This fact about him humbles me; most of the men (and women) who fought in the war were not professional soldiers who had chosen the Armed Forces as a career path—they were in every sense ‘ordinary people’. Grandad was one of these ordinary people able to do something extraordinary when it was required of him.

I’ve reproduced a slightly edited version of the eulogy I gave at his funeral here:

Almost ninety-four years he lived. I knew him for just 36 of those years. He was always there. As a child he and my grandmother visited each Saturday, almost with fail. Special childhood memories include the three generations of our family watching snooker together –it was something we all enjoyed. Holidays together in Cornwall, Devon and Wales. Recent memories of visiting him in his home in Bishop’s Cleeve and latterly in his room at Orchard House. His body becoming more and more frail, but his mind as sharp as ever.

Gordon Frank Canning was born on 3rd April 1918 to Ralph and May Canning. Unusually for his generation he was an only child. In the absence of brothers and sisters it seems to that the lodgers who stayed with his family provided the sibling bonds and the sibling conflicts. When he arrived at school  the teacher asked him if he had any brothers and sisters. “Yes” Gordon replied, “ I have a brother”.

“What’s his name?” asked the teacher.

“Mason Price!” said Gordon

The teacher was slightly puzzled. “How old is he?” he asked.

“Ninety!” said Gordon.

A second lodger was a blacksmith who my Grandad always referred to as Birdlip, so called because he came from the village of Birdlip not far from Cheltenham but worked in Evesham during the week. Birdlip was a noisy eater and would make slurping noises as ate. Throughout his life if anyone at the dinner table made any untoward noises he would call out “Oi! Birdlip”, then he would make a noise which sounded something like this – [I’m not sure how to put this in writing]. Birdlip’s table manners extended to not washing his hands before eating, a fact made obvious by the dirty nature of Birdlip’s job. Eventually Gordon lost his patience and bought to the table a bowl of water and some soap for Birdlip to wash his hands. The indignant Birdlip soon sought alternative accommodation “It’s not you I have a problem with Mrs Canning” he said to my great-grandmother. “It’s the boy!”

Like most children of his generation he left school at fourteen and was apprenticed to a grocer. Hours were long. On his first day he father arrived at the shop at nine o’clock in the evening wondering where Grandad had got to.  “He’s got another hour to do” explained the grocer. “O that’s all right” said his father – just checking I know where he is.

It would be hard to understate the influence the outbreak of the Second World War had on his life. A young man who had travelled very little saw his chance and joined the army. Following various training and assignments in this country he boarded a ship not to be told where he was going. He found himself in North Africa then in Italy. His stories of this period are more reminiscent of a student gap year than a war. One story he told was driving his lorry somewhere in North Africa accompanied by just one other driver. His lorry broke down and despite his best efforts to attract  the other driver’s attention his colleague just carried going. Soon he found himself surrounded by a crowd of locals. With any mutual intelligible language he managed to get one of the men to sit in the cab and press down on the accelerator. He managed to fix the truck, but the crowd remained. Unsure quite what to do Gordon picked up a tin of cigarettes and threw the contents out the window of the cab. The crowd quickly dispersed and Gordon went on his way.

His stories always had a humorous edge to them. Looking back I suspect that he saw many things he did not want to talk about. The one very frightening moment he did talk about actually happened in Falmouth in Cornwall. He was at the cinema when he heard a bomb go off. After leaving the cinema he learnt that the bomb had hit the chapel in which he was billeted.  His friend to whom he had been talking just a few minutes previously was killed in the attack.

Despite this experience, the war was also the beginning of his love of Cornwall notably because it was there that he met my grandmother Doris to whom he was married for 61 years. After the war my father Philip and my Auntie June arrived. Gordon went to work for British Rail* for a few years before joining Dowty’s in Ashchurch making roof supports for mines, a job in which he remained for the rest of his working life. Much of his retirement was spent caring for my grandmother Doris who had many struggles with her health. He was greatly devoted to her and you could always see how much they loved each other. He missed her greatly after she died in 2003.

So how will we remember him? I will always think of him as a man who did what was required of him, whether than was going to war, providing for his family or looking after his wife. I greatly admire this quality in him. He was never a man who sought to run things or to be in charge – if anything he resisted attempts by others to encourage him to take on leadership roles. Grandparents, of course are always the good guys. One side of my grandfather I did not see was the 1950s father. Like most fathers of that age he was a strong disciplinarian and my dad says that he could be very frightening at times. However, as adults they got on very well together.

I suspect that I am not the only one here who experiences ever possible emotion on occasions such as this. Today, there have been, and will be, tears, laughter, good memories, sad memories, questioning and trying to comprehend the fact that someone we knew so well is no longer with us.

I will finish by quoting from the hymn “How sweet the name of Jesus sounds, in a believer’s ear”. I feel I have my Grandad’s blessing for quoting this hymn as he chose it for my grandmother’s funeral. It speaks of the believer as he thinks to the day when his own earthly life will end:

Weak is the effort of my heart

And cold my warmest thought

Be when I see thee as thou art

I’ll praise thee as I ought

*Towards the end of his life Grandad shared some of his memories of working on the Honeybourne Line with an author writing in the Great Western Railway Journal. I think the article appears in it is Edition 79 (Summer 2011)., though it could be Edition 80.