SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Academia

819

National randomized experiments and validation studies were conducted on 873 tenure-track faculty (439 male, 434 female) from biology, engineering, economics, and psychology at 371 universities/colleges from 50 US states and the District of Columbia. In the main experiment, 363 faculty members evaluated narrative summaries describing hypothetical female and male applicants for tenure-track assistant professorships who shared the same lifestyle (e.g., single without children, married with children). Applicants' profiles were systematically varied to disguise identically rated scholarship; profiles were counterbalanced by gender across faculty to enable between-faculty comparisons of hiring preferences for identically qualified women versus men. Results revealed a 2:1 preference for women by faculty of both genders across both math-intensive and non-math-intensive fields, with the single exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference. Results were replicated using weighted analyses to control for national sample characteristics. In follow-up experiments, 144 faculty evaluated competing applicants with differing lifestyles (e.g., divorced mother vs. married father), and 204 faculty compared same-gender candidates with children, but differing in whether they took 1-y-parental leaves in graduate school. Women preferred divorced mothers to married fathers; men preferred mothers who took leaves to mothers who did not. In two validation studies, 35 engineering faculty provided rankings using full curricula vitae instead of narratives, and 127 faculty rated one applicant rather than choosing from a mixed-gender group; the same preference for women was shown by faculty of both genders. These results suggest it is a propitious time for women launching careers in academic science. Messages to the contrary may discourage women from applying for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) tenure-track assistant professorships.

Concepts: Male, Female, Gender, University, Academia, Preference, Professor, Tenure

215

A negative consequence of the rapid growth of scholarly open access publishing funded by article processing charges is the emergence of publishers and journals with highly questionable marketing and peer review practices. These so-called predatory publishers are causing unfounded negative publicity for open access publishing in general. Reports about this branch of e-business have so far mainly concentrated on exposing lacking peer review and scandals involving publishers and journals. There is a lack of comprehensive studies about several aspects of this phenomenon, including extent and regional distribution.

Concepts: Longitudinal study, Ecology, Sociology, Academic publishing, Academia, Peer review, Open source, Open access

211

An in-class computer-based system, that included daily online testing, was introduced to two large university classes. We examined subsequent improvements in academic performance and reductions in the achievement gaps between lower- and upper-middle class students in academic performance. Students (N = 901) brought laptop computers to classes and took daily quizzes that provided immediate and personalized feedback. Student performance was compared with the same data for traditional classes taught previously by the same instructors (N = 935). Exam performance was approximately half a letter grade above previous semesters, based on comparisons of identical questions asked from earlier years. Students in the experimental classes performed better in other classes, both in the semester they took the course and in subsequent semester classes. The new system resulted in a 50% reduction in the achievement gap as measured by grades among students of different social classes. These findings suggest that frequent consequential quizzing should be used routinely in large lecture courses to improve performance in class and in other concurrent and subsequent courses.

Concepts: Better, Improve, University, Academia, High school, Social class, Educational assessment and evaluation, University of Cambridge

168

The academic scandal on a study on stimulus‑triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells in Japan in 2014 involved suspicions of scientific misconduct by the lead author of the study after the paper had been reviewed on a peer‑review website. This study investigated the discussions on STAP cells on Twitter and content of newspaper articles in an attempt to assess the role of social compared with traditional media in scientific peer review.

Concepts: Scientific method, Academia, Peer review, Review, Mass media, Journalism, Twitter, Scientific misconduct

145

This study aims to promote reflection and bring attention to the potential adverse effects of academic social networks on science. These academic social networks, where authors can display their publications, have become new scientific communication channels, accelerating the dissemination of research results, facilitating data sharing, and strongly promoting scientific collaboration, all at no cost to the user.One of the features that make them extremely attractive to researchers is the possibility to browse through a wide variety of bibliometric indicators. Going beyond publication and citation counts, they also measure usage, participation in the platform, social connectivity, and scientific, academic and professional impact. Using these indicators they effectively create a digital image of researchers and their reputations.However, although academic social platforms are useful applications that can help improve scientific communication, they also hide a less positive side: they are highly addictive tools that might be abused. By gamifying scientific impact using techniques originally developed for videogames, these platforms may get users hooked on them, like addicted academics, transforming what should only be a means into an end in itself.

Concepts: Scientific method, Sociology, Academic publishing, Science, Research, Academia, Addiction, Adverse drug reaction

114

Peer review is the cornerstone of scholarly publishing and it is essential that peer reviewers are appointed on the basis of their expertise alone. However, it is difficult to check for any bias in the peer-review process because the identity of peer reviewers generally remains confidential. Here, using public information about the identities of 9000 editors and 43000 reviewers from the Frontiers series of journals, we show that women are underrepresented in the peer-review process, that editors of both genders operate with substantial same-gender preference (homophily), and that the mechanisms of this homophily are gender-dependent. We also show that homophily will persist even if numerical parity between genders is reached, highlighting the need for increased efforts to combat subtler forms of gender bias in scholarly publishing.

Concepts: Scientific method, Gender, Academic publishing, Academia, Peer review, Review, Sexism, Feminism

112

Gender disparities appear to be decreasing in academia according to a number of metrics, such as grant funding, hiring, acceptance at scholarly journals, and productivity, and it might be tempting to think that gender inequity will soon be a problem of the past. However, a large-scale analysis based on over eight million papers across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities reveals a number of understated and persistent ways in which gender inequities remain. For instance, even where raw publication counts seem to be equal between genders, close inspection reveals that, in certain fields, men predominate in the prestigious first and last author positions. Moreover, women are significantly underrepresented as authors of single-authored papers. Academics should be aware of the subtle ways that gender disparities can occur in scholarly authorship.

Concepts: Mathematics, Science, Academia, Gender role, Social sciences, Humanities, Natural science, Author

107

Anonymous student evaluations of teaching (SETs) are used by colleges and universities to measure teaching effectiveness and to make decisions about faculty hiring, firing, re-appointment, promotion, tenure, and merit pay. Although numerous studies have found that SETs correlate with various teaching effectiveness irrelevant factors (TEIFs) such as subject, class size, and grading standards, it has been argued that such correlations are small and do not undermine the validity of SETs as measures of professors' teaching effectiveness. However, previous research has generally used inappropriate parametric statistics and effect sizes to examine and to evaluate the significance of TEIFs on personnel decisions. Accordingly, we examined the influence of quantitative vs. non-quantitative courses on SET ratings and SET based personnel decisions using 14,872 publicly posted class evaluations where each evaluation represents a summary of SET ratings provided by individual students responding in each class. In total, 325,538 individual student evaluations from a US mid-size university contributed to theses class evaluations. The results demonstrate that class subject (math vs. English) is strongly associated with SET ratings, has a substantial impact on professors being labeled satisfactory vs. unsatisfactory and excellent vs. non-excellent, and the impact varies substantially depending on the criteria used to classify professors as satisfactory vs. unsatisfactory. Professors teaching quantitative courses are far more likely not to receive tenure, promotion, and/or merit pay when their performance is evaluated against common standards.

Concepts: Psychology, University, Academia, Dean, Effect size, Student, Professor, Tenure

87

Alcohol and marijuana are the two most abused substances in US colleges. However, research on the combined influence (cross sectional or longitudinal) of these substances on academic performance is currently scant.

Concepts: University, Academia, Faculty, College

84

The gender imbalance in STEM subjects dominates current debates about women’s underrepresentation in academia. However, women are well represented at the Ph.D. level in some sciences and poorly represented in some humanities (e.g., in 2011, 54% of U.S. Ph.D.’s in molecular biology were women versus only 31% in philosophy). We hypothesize that, across the academic spectrum, women are underrepresented in fields whose practitioners believe that raw, innate talent is the main requirement for success, because women are stereotyped as not possessing such talent. This hypothesis extends to African Americans' underrepresentation as well, as this group is subject to similar stereotypes. Results from a nationwide survey of academics support our hypothesis (termed the field-specific ability beliefs hypothesis) over three competing hypotheses.

Concepts: Scientific method, Greek loanwords, Academia, Theory, Falsifiability, Thought experiment, Humanities