When you are a student seeking information for your studies, you sometimes have the requirement that the information should be scientific. Scientific information can be published in different ways, but the common denominator is that the information has undergone a review process, a so-called peer review process.
Peer review means that researchers in the same subject area review the information before it is published. A lot of people claim that this is necessary to ensure that the research published is qualitative and reliable.
But how does peer review really work? This film from North Carolina State University Libraries describes the process of peer review. So why don’t you take three minutes and learn what peer review really is:
This week, the Peer Review process is highlighted around the world through Peer Review Week.
Text: Katharina Nordling
Film: Burke, A; Orphanides, A; Chung, HD; Dorafshar, D; Langdon, K; Duckett, K. Shared according to CC-BY-NC-SA-license.
Every year researchers, teachers and other staff at the University of Borås publish a variety of publications, most of which presents research results or similar. The publications come in a range of different types; doctoral theses, licentiate theses, peer review articles, popular scientific articles, book chapters, books, reports, etc. All of these publications are to be registered in the university publication database DiVA. This means that if you are interested in what is published by the university – search DiVA to find out.
In 2016, more than 470 publications were registered in DiVA, and there still might be some publications which haven’t yet been registered, so the final number of publications for 2016 is still unclear.
However, we know that in 2016 eight doctoral and two licentiate theses were published at the university, as it was ten research students who defended their theses during the year. All these dissertations, and a variety of other publications published by employees at the university in 2016, are now on display in our glass cabinets at the entrance to the library. Come and have a look!
In the institutional repository DiVA we collect publications from the University of Boras. Researchers have to register their work, but as a student you have to accept the publishing agreement for the thesis to be searchable and available.
If you do not accept the agreement the thesis will not be searchable in DiVA. This can become a problem if future employers want to look at the thesis.
If you approve of the agreement your thesis will be searchable in the following fields: Name, title, abstract, keywords and subject area. Be sure to carefully choose your keywords and write the abstract, do these describe your work well enough for the thesis to be found in DiVA?
Do you have questions about the metadata fields in DiVA or do you want hints on how to choose keywords or structure your abstract, then you should make a visit to the library Search lab.
Last year the there were 24 disputation notifications at the University of Boras. When a thesis is finished the doctoral student need to give four copies of their thesis to the library, two of the copies will be added to our collections, one will be sent to the archive and the last copy will be used in the library spikning ceremony.
The spikning ceremony is to make the dissertation available to the public before the disputation so that anyone has the possibility to prepare constructive criticism for the disputation seminar. This is also the reason to why the ceremony is at least three weeks before the disputation.
This ritual of nailing the thesis is old. And one of our colleagues found written confirmation about the practice as early as year 1755 . If we look further back we can see similarities with an even older practice like when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg 1517.
The machine we use to make holes in the thesis
At the University of Boras the library is in charge of the spikning ceremony. It starts with someone from the library presenting the author and ends with mingling, snacks and cider (non-alcoholic).
Right now we have an exhibition of last years dissertations. Feel free to borrow one or more of the thesis from the exhibition cabinets, or read an electronic version in our publication database DiVA.
Last year there was 24 dissertations at the University of Boras, we have collected the ones we have in the library collection.
 Årsböcker i svensk undervisningshistoria nr 68-69 (1921-): Till Gefle läroverks historia 1577-1850, Uppsala: Föreningen för svensk undervisningshistoria. s. 307-308.
Recently there have been cases of students being contacted by GlobeEdit Publishing, a predatory publisher that wants to publish the students work, the initial contact could look something like this:
“I believe this particular topic could be of interest to a wider audience and we would be glad to consider publishing it.
Should the commercialisation of your work as printed book meet your interest, I will be glad to provide you with further details in an electronic brochure.”
Usualy predatory publishers are interested in you paying the publication cost to make profit off your research. In this case GlobeEdit is offering to publish your work for free, the problem is with the contract; you will loose all rights to your work and they will sell it to make money. GlobeEdit do not care about scientific quality or making your work reach a “wider audience”; they will rather work to limit the access behind a paywall. The student thesis are usually already published and available online through the university repositories.
In the previous post I wrote about blogs. In some circumstances blog posts can be regarded as scientific texts but in general blogs are not to be viewed as a scientific genre. To learn to identify specific genres may be helpful when determining which texts are scientific. A genre is distinguished by when texts assigned to the genre have some similarities (or regularities) e.g. contents, logical structure, typography, vocabularity and langugae. Some general scientific genres are:
Articles in scientific journals
Chapter in an anthology
Review article/annual review
Some of these genres have been discussed in the previous blog posts. Reveiw articles are often littreature reviews. They summarizes the latest research in a specific area and try to draw conclusions from the results. The genres which are interesting for publishing differs between subject areas and countries. This is important to remember when looking at what is scientific text in different areas. Even the language used in the publication differs and has consequence whether research is mainly published nationally or internationally. It is also good to be aware that the English speaking authors do not have to make this decision – American researcher publishing in an American journal in English does not have to make a decision between national and interantional. To simplify some charecteristics in different areas:
Monographs and book chapters are most common, often written in the national language
Articles are becomeing more common, even in international journals
Big differences between different subjects, e.g. linguists publish articles whereas researchers in litterature studies often publish monographs or book chapters
Natural Sciences, technology and medicine (STM)
Articles published in English in international scientific journals
Conference papers are particularly prestigious in some subject areas (e.g IT)
Artciles published in English in international scientific journals
Instead of reading abstracts to see if an article is of interest for you and your student paper you could see if there might be a video abstract. A number a journals have started providing authors the possibility to post a video abstract in connection with their research paper, i.e. Cell, New Journal of Physics, BMJ, Journal Number Theory. It seems though that it is journals within STM (Science, Technology, Medicine) that have come further with video abstracts than other areas. Those interested in humanities and social sciences will have to wait a while longer. With video abstracts STM research might become a bit a available even to those not so comfortable with the subject areas.
These clips are also an alternative to other Youtube clips that you watch while waiting for the food to be done or for the bus to come. Take this video on emperor penguins and how is it that they are able to breath in the harsh cold of South Pole when other species aren’t.
Or maybe this on on why some mimics are imperfect (e.g. hoverflies look like wasps) and howcome they still are imperfect despite evolution?