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Tuesday 3 February 2015

Academic Salvage

One of my jobs is to facilitate research grants for educational development through the ISTLD (Institute for the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines) at Simon Fraser University. The Institute has given more than 130 awards to faculty-lead projects to improve the educational experiences of their classrooms. I've read the grant proposals and final reports of many of these awards and among the patterns that have emerged:

- Almost all the granted projects reach completion close their proposed timeline and submit a final report.

- Many of them mention plans to publish research papers in their proposals.

- Many of them have made measurable beneficial impacts on the experience of students, and these effects are publishable in education journals.

- Many of the final reports mention sharing the findings at on-campus talks and posters.

- Not as many project results actually get submitted to journals, even in response to a follow up a year after the final reports are submitted.

Papers are getting submitted, but not as many as there could be. Sure, there are some There's some barriers at the end of the projects to publishing. Part of the barrier is that the primary goal of the projects is to improve education, not to write about it. Still, it feels like a waste to finish research and write a report and a poster, but never get published credit for it.

I've been told by some colleagues that statistical analysis of the data at the end is often an issue, as well as the paper writing process. It makes me want to find projects that ended in this ABP (all-but-publication) state and offer to write and analyze in exchange for a name on the paper. From my perspective as a statistician and a writer, it seems like one of the most efficient ways to boost my own paper count. From the perspective of a faculty member who has completed such a project, I hope they would consider such an offer as a way to be first author of a real paper rather than sole author of an none.

Is there a name for someone makes these sort of arrangements? If not, I'd like to suggest 'academic salvager'?  Specifically, I mean in someone who takes the raw materials from the unpublished research of others and value-adds it up to a paper.

Is there a lot of research in this all-but-publication state in other fields? This is just from one granting program, how much 'academic salvage' is out there waiting to be gathered, refined, and shipped out? 

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