Wednesday, 17 May 2006

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I Know, I Know, Academic Freedom, But... [Via Scott Jaschik] Were a panel of my peers to find that I “had committed falsification, fabrication, plagiarism, failure to comply with established standard regarding author names on publications, and a ‘serious deviation from accepted practices in reporting results from research,’” I would expect to find a pink slip in my box. Academic freedom shouldn’t protect the falsifier, the fabricator, or the plagiarist from dismissal, should it? Or is this one of those cases in which we defend the worst for fear of future actions against respectable but politically unpopular scholarship? Looking over the biographies of the committee members and the examples of patent plagiarism included in the report—available here [.pdf]—it doesn’t appear Ward Churchill’s work has been unfairly impugned by ideologues. A committee of this sort would want to seem politically neutral, of course, but the one which indicted Churchill at least appears to be. (Those more familiar with the scholars can speak to this, perhaps.) My reservations stem from the fact that the committee was launched after his inflammatory comments about 9/11, which makes this process an indirect attack on academic freedom. Still, had Ward Churchill not been a falsifier, a fabricator, or a plagiarist, the committee wouldn’t have called (however tentatively) for his dismissal. Other, more informed voices care to pipe up? (Or is everyone else equally confused?) [X-posted to The Valve.]
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Another MLA Panel You Dread Attending [Some of you may be looking the meme post...] So that MLA panel I mentioned proposing a few months back was, miraculously, accepted. I don't know how the it slipped past The Man whose boot's been firmly planted on my neck the past three years, but I suspect it had something to do with the other panelists. (Cue Technotronic) Are you ready for this? Meet the Bloggers: Blogging and the Future of Academia Organizer – Scott Eric Kaufman In his June 6, 2003 Chronicle of Higher Education article on academic blogging, David Glenn waxed skeptical about its future, noting that many "academic bloggers worry that the medium smells faddish, ephemeral." Two years later, The Chronicle established a special section of "Careers" devoted to "Links to Academic Blogs." What happened in the intervening months was nothing short of an explosion in the number, the quality and public attention brought to bear on academic blogs. The 2005 MLA convention featured four panels which addressed this phenomenon. Each treated blogging as a stable genre with the potential to evolve into a professional or pedagogical asset, but they could only speculate as to what prominent bloggers would do. This proposed panel differs from those in that it will feature four of the most prominent academic bloggers discussing a future they possess the power and influence to shape. The bloggers in question, followed by their rank in "The Truth Laid Bear" ecosystem of all (not merely academic) blogs are: John Holbo (#36), [Bitch Ph.D.] (#148), Michael Bérubé (#198), and Scott Eric Kaufman (#1502). Michael Bérubé's "Instantaneous Citation Index" moves beyond current conversations about "online scholarly communities" to address the mechanisms of citation and influence-tracking among academic bloggers. His paper argues that insofar as services like Technorati and Google allow blogging scholars to determine the issues commanding the attention of their peers with increasing speed and accuracy, they constitute a new kind of apparatus for the charting the dissemination of ideas, an apparatus that is supplemental–in both senses–to "professional" devices of measurement such as the Arts and Humanities Citation Index. [Bitch Ph.D.]'s "I'm Nobody! Who are You?" turns to the question of pseudonymous blogging and its place in the community Bérubé describes. Beginning with the oft-noted parallels between pseudonymous blogging, which has become a staple among academic blogs, and the tradition of the eighteenth-century periodical essay, in which pseudonymity was a generic convention, her paper discusses the possibilities of voice in blogging and the ways that pseudonymity, particularly among junior faculty, graduate students, and women, allows us to speak about "private" matters in a "public" forum. In the realm of print culture, blogging puts pressure on the relationship between the author function and the question of textual ownership. In academia, it raises the question of what the role of casual writing is with relationship to "publication" (or "service," or "teaching"). More importantly, however, this question–like that of textual ownership–presents an implicit challenge to a profession that, on the one hand, practices blind review and, on the...

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