unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)


*cough* May I interrupt your browsing with some petition-waving? Like most everywhere else, researchers and universities here in Flanders (Belgium) are rewarded with jobs and money based on how many publications they manage to squeeze out. Quality of those publications, teaching efforts by academics, or service to society are barely taken into account, if at all. Evaluating researchers' work in a more nuanced way would lead to universities spending taxpayers' money on more useful work, and help alleviate the intense pressure to publish that bedevils young academics in particular.

This is an open letter from various Flemish academics demanding that universities and the government (which allocates most of the money) sit down together and establish such a better system. It's in Dutch, but here is a gtranslated version that's mostly understandable.

The petition has 2700 signatures right now from all over the Flemish academic community, which is a lot given how small that community is. This issue is getting a lot of attention in Flemish media right at this moment. At the risk of being an overly starry-eyed young grad student, I can't help but hope that this is a moment when we can make some actual change happen. 

If you're concerned about the publish-or-perish mess that academics in pretty much every country are stuck in, please take a moment to support us!* Thank you <3


*To be clear, I'm not affiliated with the people who wrote the petition.

unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
I've got a little more than a year to go with my PhD on dojinshi, so it's high time to start writing the final dissertation and put more concrete results out on the internets. It's more motivating to write in public, and of course I also hope that people will come in and poke me with corrections or suggestions while there's still time to take those comments into account. (Please do, I will love you forever and credit you all over the place. And make thank-you drabbles/drawbles if you want any.)

My online presence has changed quite a bit over the last few years, so I thought I'd give a quick update about where to get info or updates about the research:
  • I've started writing the dissertation and am posting short daily updates about progress on Tumblr, with links to the stuff that's been done.
  • Unjapanologist's Dojinshi Research is the wiki where I'm drafting my dissertation.
  • This Dreamwidth journal is updated only now and then when there's something bigger to report, and I don't forget to report it - times are busy. My apologies for the sparse updates here. Please check out the wiki or Tumblr for the most recent stuff.
  • Shorter or more incoherent things go into Twitter
  • Various notes and quotes for research that haven't been processed anywhere else yet are in an online notes and quotes book.
  • Other academic works and projects I've done up to now are on Academia.edu, with full text copies of articles, links to all presentations etc etc.
Quick basics: my PhD research focuses on doujinshi, Japanese print fanworks that are often sold for money with the tacit approval of copyright holders. I frame doujinshi exchange as a hybrid economy that straddles fannish gift economies and commercial economies. By comparing these fanworks with other kinds of works that are exchanged in such “hybrid” economies, like open source software, I’m developing a vocabulary for explaining fanworks as a sort of “open source cultural goods” that fit in very well with many other “open” movements today. Open source is already a well-known and well-understood mechanism for “non-professionals” to create valuable things for the sake of fun and community instead of for profit, while still interacting in a mutually beneficial way with the commercial economy as well. I’m convinced that framing fanworks as part of an “open” movement should be very helpful in explaining (also to non-fannish open culture activists, policymakers, and so on) what role fanworks play in the broader cultural economy.

*ties on victory bandana*
unjapanologist: (Default)
Note: the blog post linked below is a joke, and I very much regret that pointing that out is necessary. Real academic publishing is so nuts and so close to this that I can almost imagine it happening.

Academic Publisher Unveils New Journal Which Prevents All Access To Its Content
unjapanologist: (internethygiene)
HuffPo brings a pile of bizarre with 50 Shades of Grey in Scientific Publication: How Digital Publishing Is Harming Science. A scholar called Douglas Fields argues against open access, mainly by attempting to paint it as a dastardly government takeover of science that will mean the end of rigorous research. I was a little disappointed that he didn't actually call open access communist.

The article is plenty strange and sad in and of itself; anyone who can write with a straight face that "A corporate/government financial alliance is replacing scholarly publication once organized and run by scientists and academics" has a very, very idealistic view of the sort of traditional academic publishing that open access is trying to revolutionize.

And then comes this comparison:

Similar changes are eroding literary publication as direct electronic publication by authors on the Internet has led to erotic and reportedly pornographic works like Fifty Shades of Grey and spinoffs sweeping bestsellers lists for months. The issue is not whether erotica or pornography is or should be popular; rather, one wonders what literary work might have filled those slots on the bestsellers lists if traditional mechanisms of editor-evaluated publication had been applied, which consider more than simply the potential popularity of a work in deciding what to publish.

One wonders indeed.

This man lives in a very strange reality. But I love, love, love the idea of equating open access with 50 Shades! It means that advocating for open publication of my research is just like polluting my pure academic environment with BDSM porn. I feel totally all right with conceptualizing my work in that way. Maybe I should make some mugs and t-shirts for other open access-loving fan studies people.
unjapanologist: (Default)
Here's a lovely video about why open access for academic articles is so important. It touches upon many key problems with academic publishing, and it's animated by the guy who makes the awesome PhD Comics.

Open access explained! (8min)

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (Default)
There's a lot of different ways in which you can screw up as an academic, from doing sloppy research full of methodological flaws and bad analysis (maybe so you can quickly monetize it as a popular book), to deliberately plagiarizing and denying other researchers credit for their work in an academic economy where people's reputations and jobs depend on being credited.

However, those are really just procedural issues in the end. There's also scholarship that is bad because it goes completely against the very purpose of scholarship, which is to advance knowledge for the good of the public that pays your salary. (In my book.)

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
The MLA (Modern Language Association), has updated its widely-used citation guidelines for academic papers with a citation style for tweets:

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
I recently bought the Kindle edition of this book. $89 for an e-book is beyond obscene, but I rather desperately needed it for research and there was still room in the budget. I considered getting it as a one-month rental for the equally obscene price of $40, but the rentals page explained that the number of highlights that can be made in a rental book is sometimes limited, and I have a tendency to highlight and annotate about half of everything.

This book, by the way, is the 'official' publication of a PhD thesis that used to be available online for free - I found references and broken links to it from 2008. It's a very interesting and relevant work, and it makes me weep to know that scholars have to lock up this kind of research in $89 vaults just because they need 'real' publications to keep their careers alive.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (Default)
As a "happy birthday to me" present, I'd like indulge in some free speech today. Please skip the next two paragraphs in italics if you're aware of the background here.

This text is about the dismissal from my Belgian home university of another researcher, Barbara Van Dyck. Last week, she attended and defended a protest action that resulted in significant property damage to a field of GMO potatoes that was part of a scientific experiment. The university summarily dismissed her after she refused to retract her support for the protest action, stating that she violated other scholars' right to freedom of speech as well as their academic freedom. Many other academics and commenters have, in turn, accused the university of violating Barbara Van Dyck's right to freedom of speech.

Most of the online discussions about these events have been conducted in Dutch, but English breakdowns of the situation are starting to circulate as well, for instance on this petition here. Please note that the opinions expressed in this text are entirely my own. I speak as an individual grad student of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, not as a representative of my doctoral school, faculty, research unit, or any other group I belong to.

Letter under the cut )
unjapanologist: (Default)
Quick recap: Kristina Busse's keynote "Affect and the individual fan" was given at the Textual Echoes conference and can be viewed in its entirety online. Read more... )

Really stopping now. Part three will be on affect (still Kristina's keynote) and cute little kittens! (Edited for major html fail)
unjapanologist: (Default)
This post is abominally late, yes, and I have multiple fine excuses, but let's skip that part. Three weeks ago the conference Textual Echoes: Fan Fiction and Sexualities was held at Umea University, Sweden, in the gorgeous HUMlab space. It was a very inspiring experience, and I've been trying to string together a million separate thoughts about it without becoming totally incoherent. This resulted in a mile-long text chock full of links that no sane person would ever wade through, so I'll be splitting it up and publishing it in installments. (Also because if I delay posting until the text is entirely finished, I won't be posting for another week at least, which would be a tad pathetic.) So, first things first -the conference in general and my reason for being there.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (Default)

Originally published at Academic FFF. You can comment here or there.

I spent the last couple of weeks fine-tuning a grant application. Everything hinges on this one three-page text: one wrong word or fuzzy sentence and bam, the application goes straight in the bin. That means reading and rereading and spell-checking and putting in more jargon ad nauseam, and soon advisors start giving contradictory advice as to what should be in there, the page limit becomes a nightmare, and by the deadline you're quite ready to ritually burn the monster and dump the ashes in the cat box.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (Default)

Originally published at Academic FFF. You can comment here or there.

Some final notes and observations following "Comics Worlds and the World of Comics" in Kyoto. I had a great time, learned a lot, and was quite impressed in general. The amount of fail was surprisingly small for an academic gathering (a few people excepted), and several presentations gave me some very helpful pointers and new ideas.

Read more... )
unjapanologist: (Default)
Via @tinkerbill on Twitter: an organization in Wisconsin is trying to remove a book about a gay teenager from a library and literally burn it, on the grounds that it is "explicitly vulgar, racial [sic] and anti-Christian". Impressive. These concerned citizens clearly have a great deal of experience at speaking out against the racialiminosity that still pervades our culture.

Elsewhere, Avalon's Willow describes how total ignorance about other cultures causes people to completely miss instances of whitewashing and other forms of racism.Read more... )


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