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Tackling the 'Childcare–Conference Conundrum'

In a new opinion piece in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a Working Group of Mothers in Science considers “How to Tackle the Childcare–Conference Conundrum.” Primary caretakers of dependent children “face inequitable hurdles to fully attending and participating in conference activities because of responsibilities related to pregnancy, breastfeeding and caretaking,” the article says. “It’s a serious problem because it creates a culture of inequity for parents, with mothers generally experiencing greater disadvantages than fathers because of biological, prejudicial, and often socially driven childcare demands.” 

With solutions “seemingly elusive,” the authors wrote, “many women, and occasionally men, make a calculated decision to forego conference attendance and suffer the career consequences.” What can be done? The authors suggest that research societies and conference organizers follow what they call a “CARE” model, for childcare, accommodating families, offering resources and establishing social networks. As for childcare, the working group says that smaller conferences may offer financial support for individually arranged childcare and that larger ones may offer care onsite.

“Onsite facilities, such as those provided by the Society for Neuroscience and the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, allow for frequent check-ins from parents and support breastfeeding,” the article says. “Conference organizers can now connect with companies that specialize in professional onsite conference childcare, often with their own liability policies. Providing childcare for dependent children of all ages is an important step, as is ensuring affordability for conferencing parents,” many of whom are students, postdoctoral fellows or early-career researchers.

Funding such efforts could be achieved by “redistributing the way society funds are used to support these efforts, modestly increasing registration and/or exhibitor fees, or by soliciting donations from registrants and/or exhibitors on their registration form, for which donors would receive a decal advertising their support for parents in science,” the paper notes. It further suggests that host organizations support caregivers who travel to conferences along with academics through travel and housing grants. Conferences also should allow babywearing among participants, it says, offer lactation spaces and consider “family-friendly” dates and venues in planning -- such as by avoiding holidays and weekends when childcare centers are closed.

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U South Florida Adjuncts Form Union

Adjuncts at the University of South Florida voted to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union, they announced Tuesday. The tally was 326 in favor of unionization and 91 opposed. Some 900 part-time professors on the university’s three campuses were eligible to vote. South Florida’s administration opposed unionization, saying it preferred to work with adjuncts directly on issues of pay and working conditions.

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Podcasts offer tips on classroom technology, innovation

If you’re looking to fill your commute with practical ideas you can use at work, these podcasts will help.

How to organize effective graduate student recruitment weekends

Terry McGlynn offers some tips.

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Applying for a community college faculty position (opinion)

Every step of the application process for faculty positions can be quite different from applying for a job at a major research institution, counsels Melissa Dennihy.

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Thursday, April 5, 2018
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How to Land a Community College Job

The domination of English-language journal publishing is hurting scholarship in many countries (opinion)

Is your first language English? If so, imagine that you are now required to write about your research using only Spanish or Japanese. Many scholars around the world are facing a parallel situation, with pressures to publish their work in English increasing markedly in the past two decades. Indeed, many people now assume that English is the global language of scholarly publishing.

This claim is usually supported by evidence from the limited universe of around 27,000 journals included in the Web of Science (WoS) indexes -- most prominently, the Science Citation Index -- most of which publish in English. However, more than 9,000 peer-reviewed scholarly journals are being published in other languages, with French (3,500), German (2,700), Spanish (2,300) and Chinese (1400) contributing the highest numbers. Most of these journals are excluded from prestigious journal indexes, thus perpetuating the ideology that English is the global academic lingua franca.

The pressure to publish in journals listed in prestigious indexes has become a global trend, most recently reaching Latin America and Africa. Some multilingual scholars do view using English as a way to reach a broader academic audience than their local context, language or research community affords. But after closely examining the effects of this trend on academics for nearly two decades, we’ve seen little attention being paid to what is lost in this focus on English. The consequences of this major shift in the creation and distribution of academic knowledge, as well as the burdens it creates -- even for scholars who welcome it -- need to be more carefully weighed.

The trend for English-medium publishing emerges from neoliberal policies that affect the goals, activities and working conditions in higher education. Publications in English signal the “internationalization” of institutions of higher education, as publication metrics are key criteria for the global rankings of universities. However, achieving these valued English-medium publications adds burdens to the work of many multilingual scholars. And no, they can’t just get their work translated -- even if scholars have funds for translation (which is expensive), it’s virtually impossible for most scholars to find translators who have a high level of academic English and know both the disciplinary content and the rhetorical conventions of academic journal articles.

As well, policy makers and administrators often lack an understanding of what’s needed for English-medium publishing: financial resources to conduct research and attend conferences to share knowledge and build networks, time to write, and funds to pay for editing support for English text production.

Another consequence of the global push to publish research in English is the loss of knowledge locally, as it may not also become available in local languages given the taboo against “dual publishing” of research. Not all local scholars or students speak or read English, so exporting research produced in local contexts for global, English-speaking audiences may hinder the development of local research cultures and societies more broadly. And while English has long been the dominant (but not only) language in scientific journals, pressures for English are now reaching social sciences and humanities scholars. As a result, scholars who write about, for example, Hungarian history are now being pushed to publish in English, even though a large part of their research community is likely to be local or regional.

Institutional policies that advance the English-medium publishing agenda work in implicit and explicit ways contribute to the problem. Implicitly, the nesting of English in many of the metrics used to evaluate the work of academics, including the citation indexes and top-ranked journals published by Elsevier, Springer and other European and North American publishers, removes questions of linguistic medium from the conversation -- English becomes a presumed requirement. Explicitly, evaluation guidelines that privilege publishing research in English ignore other ways of evaluating research quality. When scholars are evaluated based on publishing metrics centered on the impact factor, the h-factor or the ranking of journals in Scopus or WoS indexes, these regimes sidestep deeper conversations about which research topics and questions are valuable and to whom.

Though English continues to spread as a major linguistic medium for academic knowledge production, it’s not too late to consider ways to change some practices of knowledge distribution, for the benefit of individual scholars around the world, their research communities and their geopolitical contexts.

First, policy makers and administrators must understand that communicating research in English is first and foremost an issue of the resources needed to provide scholars with time and funds for doing research, traveling to conferences, and getting support for writing in English. Second, anglophone researchers and publishers -- where most journal gatekeepers (editors, peer reviewers) are located -- also need to consider the conditions of knowledge production for our counterparts worldwide. Journal referees need to have more understanding when reviewing texts (for example, more tolerance for nonstandard varieties of English) and journals need to devise more ways to support multilingual colleagues. Finally, this same anglophone publishing community should reconsider the ban on dual publication to allow the same research findings to be published in the local language for the benefit of local communities and in English for a wider audience.

Mary Jane Curry is an associate professor in the Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development, University of Rochester. Theresa Lillis is a professor in the Faculty of Education and Language Studies, the Open University, U.K. They are co-editors of “Global Academic Publishing: Policies, Perspectives and Practices” (2017, Multilingual Matters) and co-authors of Academic Writing in a Global Context: The Politics and Practices of Publishing in English” (2010, Routledge) and “A Scholar’s Guide to Getting Published in English: Critical Choices and Practical Strategies” (2013, Multilingual Matters).

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Students and faculty members at Augsburg U rallying around professor facing deportation

Students and faculty members at Augsburg U are rallying around a longtime professor who immigration officials say must soon return to Kenya -- or be deported.

Professor Who Made Anti-Muslim Comments Retires

Clifford Adams, an assistant professor of music at the University of Cincinnati, is on administrative leave until he retires on May 1, over comments he made to a student about Muslims, Cincinnati.com reported. "The university is committed to excellence and diversity in order to create the best living and learning environment on behalf of our students, faculty and staff," Greg Vehr, university spokesperson, said in a statement. "We take seriously all allegations of discriminatory behavior. The university investigated this matter and followed the process for review under the collective bargaining agreement with the faculty."

Adams was investigated after he asked students to write about the song “Walk on Water” as an assignment. In response to a Muslim student’s interpretation, Adams wrote, among other comments, that the U.S. president’s “first sworn duty is to protect America from enemies, and the greatest threat to our freedom is not the president, it is radical Islam. Review this list of Islamic terrorist attacks and then tell me about your hurt feelings.” Of Muslim women, he wrote, “Muslim females are safer in America than in any Middle Eastern country. How dare you complain while enjoying our protection!” He also said, “As you well know, young Muslim women are murdered by their father or a brother for dating -- or for holding hands with -- a non-Muslim boy …” Adams publicly apologized for his remarks after they were shared on social media. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Mentors and role models can attract minority students to fields where they may not feel welcome (opinion)

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein considers the role of mentors and role models in creating a path for young black physicists.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018
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Defying the Odds

Texas Tech professor who says university punished him for opposing tenure can take case to trial

Texas Tech professor who says he was retaliated against for speaking out against tenure as stifling to academic innovation may proceed to trial in his case against the institution, a state appeals court rules.

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