Slowing down the journal club

tjc15The journal club #TJC15 is a fascinating phenomenon. Laura Gogia ‘birthed’ it from her spontaneous live-tweeting of an article written by me and Jenny Mackness. As authors, it was exhilarating and informative to see live responses to our work. It was spontaneous, people responding to our paper as they encountered it, and I was thrilled by the responses.
As Laura developed the concept, I became interested in this idea of a swift journal club, enabled by Twitter and curation tools. Laura, the originator, moved swiftly to organise around this emergent phenomenon: to create a persistent place at https://tjc15.wordpress.com/ that records archives, upcoming events and even research.

Laura’s idea is that :
“Twitter Journal Club is an open learning experience on Twitter (aggregated around the hashtag #tjc15) in which participants read a previously agreed upon article at a scheduled time, live-tweeting as they go. The articles – which must be openly available either through pre-print or open access – are recommended by participants via Google Doc and read in order of recommendation.” more

Participants are responding with ideas, helping out with support for annotation and Storify by Mariana Funes. I think that the beauty of it is that people can participate in different ways.

Before the June journal club, I spent a little time reflecting on how I could best contribute to and benefit from #tjc15. Anyone who knows me, will know that I have a tendency to talk too much so I always try to make sure that I avoid hogging the conversation in a face to face session. But we don’t need to wait for a gap in the conversation to post a tweet to a hashtag and the stream can get hectic. I came up with a plan to slow down my experience of the journal club to see what difference that might make.

I decided:

  • to read the paper quickly before the session
  • to make my primary focus on reading the stream rather than posting to it
  • to note three issues that seemed important to me from reading the paper and make those my contributions spread over the hour
  • (apart from those contributions) to concentrate on thinking about / occasionally responding to the ideas of others

planI shared my plan with the club and paced my 3 issue tweets across the hour with the first one 10 minutes into the hour.

So how did it go?
I can’t speak for others (they probably didn’t notice) but I had a much better experience. I felt as if I had created more thinking space for me to reflect on what I, but also more importantly others, got from the paper.

I am interested in how we can slow things down a bit in other online associations, creating the pools alongside the fast-running streams. What do you think?

ALT Annual Conference 2015: Shaping the future of learning together – submission deadline approaching

Snapshots of ALT-C
Snapshots of ALT-C

The ALT-C 2015 Conference is at the University of Manchester 8-10 September, and will be hugely enjoyable if my experience of previous conferences is anything to go by.  Two excellent keynote speakers have been announced: Laura Czerniewycz who does great work in Open Education and Steve Wheeler , a prolific and popular blogger and tweeter.

The programme will reflect the theme of shaping and sharing learning through breaking down the traditional divisions between stakeholders and between their roles, with a focus on:

Harnessing the power of the crowd – collaboration and connectivist learning;

Social media in learning and teaching;

Open educational practice;

Learners as agents of change;

Participatory approaches to the development of learning technologies.

This has encouraged me to prepare a submission – we have until Friday 13 March.  But what has really excited me is a change to the organisation of the sessions, and to what they might lead to.  Instead of categorising them as workshops, presentations or research papers they are just sessions with clear criteria for audience engagement.  I think that can offer opportunities for creativity for presenters and audience.

There is also an open and flexible concept of education that is dear to my own heart

Here education is considered broadly and includes formal and informal learning settings in schools, colleges, universities, the workplace, homes and communities, at any stage in learners’ lives.

I recommend you to visit the web site and read the Call for Papers. I am a former editor of Research in Learning Technology, and I really welcome the shift of focus from inviting Research Papers for the Conference to supporting authors to develop the work that they present at the conference into a paper for Research in Learning Technology.  As the Call says,

This is a new opportunity we are offering this year with the intention of increasing the work showcased at the conference being published.

This is a wonderful opportunity to increase the relevance of the conference and the journal to each other. I am imagining more conference attenders writing and reading papers from RiLT and elsewhere, and exciting topics, articles and multimedia making their way from the conference to the journal.

One of the aspects that really excites me is the potential for collaboration all through the process – co-authoring the abstract, getting feedback from reviewers, presenting the session and interacting with participants, getting feedback there and via social media, co-writing a research paper, getting feedback from editor and reviewers, rewriting and finally publication, then getting feedback via social media, since RiLT is open access.  I could even recommending blogging as part of the development process – see the rich discussion around this blog post

So go on – submit a session abstract and hopefully I will see you in Manchester in September.

Be careful what you wish for

Peer Review Monster

Peer Review Monster Gideon Burton

 

 

 

Some say peer review of research articles is broken and needs to be changed, others that peer review needs a killer app that allows readers within a social network to vote a paper up or down. Cameron Neylon says Don’t (peer review) – the risks outweigh the benefits of publication. He says “publishing anything does no harm’ whereas peer review is costly in expert time.

jch Mary Mc Kinnon

 

 

 

Before we throw the baby out with the bath water, let’s think about what’s good about peer review and what could be improved.

Peer review can be good when:

  • it offers blind review when reviewers do not know gender/age/race/status of authors (unless this is revealed by text and context)
  • reviewers offer constructive advice for authors to improve their article/ creative work
  • it winnows submissions to journal (or other publication outlet) to improve quality of what is presented and filters content for readers

Peer review can be bad when;

  • it introduces delay in publication of work (tardy editors/ reviewers, backlog of accepted articles)
  • opinionated reviewers destroy confidence of authors

Alternatives to ‘traditional’ blind (author does not see identity of reviewer) or double-blind (neither author or reviewer see each others’ identity) reviewing include open peer review and the various recommender systems such as reviews on Amazon.com, Facebook ‘likes’, etc.

What are the risks of abandoning peer review ?

Well of course, the short answer to that is “I don’t know” but a search of scholar.google.co.uk reveals that it is a topic worthy of discussion.

“The refereed journal literature needs to be freed from both paper and its costs, but not from peer review, whose ‘invisible hand’ is what maintains its quality,” Steven J.Harnad from Peer Review : A critical inquiry by David Shatz.

What concerns me is that abandoning peer review will leave us more exposed to the gender, race and other identity biases that remain with us, and flourish in online communication where identity is key.

What do you think?

Do the benefits of abandoning peer review outweigh the disadvantages, and why?