Wednesday, May 02, 2012

External blogs for the Research Cooperative

Three little-used but potentially-important external blogs are associated with the Research Cooperative: 1. The Research Cooperative External Blog - for maintaining an independently hosted archive of information and articles related to The Research Cooperative. 2. Student Journals - to support student groups and organisations that publish research-related articles in journals. 3. The Research Cooperative at Wordpress - to support research-related publishing on the Wordpress platform. The first of these (1) must remain under strict control of the Research Cooperative itself. New contributors for the other two (2,3) are invited at any time.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Science funding in New Zealand

SideLines, April 2008

There has been some serious laughing-but-not-laughing about New Zealand science funding in the news recently ("NZ research assistance 'laughable', Weekend Herald, March 8th 2008).

Part of the problem is a lack of business spending on research.

What does this mean when so much of New Zealand business is driven by international companies? Presumably, they do a lot of their research in other countries.

New Zealand has had some success with agricultural-industry groups pooling their resources to carry out research that is valuable for all members.

Is there any way that disparate small companies can pool their resources to support the pre-proprietary stages of research? What topics would be relevant to diverse small companies in a small and relatively-isolated country?

Social research on employment-related issues? Logistical research on transport systems? Legal research on doing business across the ditch? Research on the risks of not doing research? (Try selling sunhats on a rainy day).

A good starting point might be to create a science-fashion magazine with a title like: 'Science for Every Occasion' (SEO, now recruiting, wanted: science writers with flair).

It might be laughable, but textile science is a big business, and the Wearable Art contest in New Zealand is a joke that seems to never wear thin. I have no doubt that there is a lot of science behind the art.

You can laugh, but some of those hats might be useful on Mars.

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Comments can be posted in our Viewpoints forum (see menu above).

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Higher education going down (Japan)

SideLines, March 2008

In the Japan Times of 28th Feb., 2008, W. Hollingworth introduces the conclusions of Roger Goodman, from Oxford University, on the future of higher education in Japan.

The falling birthrate in this country, and the limited movement older-age students into universities, are leading to "an implosion of a type not seen before". "There is little evidence that the vast-majority of the lower-level four universities will be able to rise to meet the demographic challenges that currently face them".

Goodman suggests that struggling Japanese universities should look to alternative sources of income by undertaking more research projects and raising endowments. Japanese universities also struggle to attract foreign students, so Goodman also suggests employing more foreign staff, and conducting more courses in English.

His work, "‘Education in the Aged Society: The Demographic Challenge to Japanese Education’, will be published soon (March, 2008) in Florian Coulmas, Harald Conrad, Annette Schad and Gabriele Vogt (eds)., The Demographic Challenge: A Handbook about Japan, Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers.

Comment: Historically, it has been quite difficult for Japanese to return to Japan and find work after long periods of study and work abroad. Perhaps a more open employment system will also help them, as well as helping universities to survive in Japan.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Found a great bookshop

SideLines, February 2008

Today I went for a Sunday walk in Kyoto City with my family. We went from one temple or shrine to the next to enjoy the lunar New Year festivities.

On one street corner we found some narrow stairs leading up to a second-hand books shop called Greenebooks.

This shop buys and sells books in any language except Japanese. The very eclectic range was mainly English-language. A New Year sale was in progress (50% price reductions!), and the books were mostly very good. The shop is close to Kyoto University, which has many foreign visitors and students.

I was happy to discover and purchase the following (no relation): J. R. Matthews et al. (1996) Successful scientific writing: A step-by-step guide for the biological and medical sciences. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. 181 pp.

After a quick browse, I can recommend this book highly.

I particularly enjoy a section on 'devil pairs' (pp. 131-134). These are pairs of similar or related words that many writers get confused by, and choose wrongly.

After returning home, we scattered beans to drive out evil spirits from our house ('Setsubun' is an old Japanese custom on the last night of Winter). Maybe we also gave some 'devil pairs' a fright.

For extra effect, we tied a smelly, grilled fish-head to some thorny holly leaves to the frame above our door, outside. The leaves were kindly provided by our local supermarket when we bought fish yesterday.

Who needs biotechnology when we can use magic like this?!

Higher Education and Newspapers

SideLines, January 2008

In many countries, major newspapers may publish special supplements on science or higher education, and these may also appear in newspaper websites.

See for example:
The Australian
The Sydney Morning Herald, and its online Classroom, and
New Zealand Herald Science

Such publications would be a good target for promoting the Research Cooperative website for research editors, translators and writers.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Cyber University

SideLines, Nov.-December 2007

Y. Kageyama (Japan Times 1. Dec 2007) reports that Cyber University is the only university in Japan to offer all its courses on the internet, and that it has recently started offering classes on mobile phones.

For mobile viewing, the handset screen can only offer Power Point images and sound. So it will be more of an adjunct to full internet access.

Online studies are of course second-best to direct interactions with teachers and other students in live classes - but potentially can reach many people who would otherwise have no chance at all to study.

Are students going to become great writers if they try to send in essays written on mobile phone handsets?!

About the Research Cooperative: For free membership and to publish or modify Notices, please register here: Registration/Log-in

Comments can be posted in our Viewpoints forum (see menu above).

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

PhD Jobseeker Logo

SideLInes October, 2007

K. Sugimoto in the Asahi Newspaper (7th August, 2007) reports that The Japan Society of Applied Physics has created a "Career Explorer" logo for PhD graduates who are looking for jobs. At academic conferences, the graduates are encouraged to use the logo on their posters, or in their talks, because such conferences are an ideal venue to advertise the need for a job - a captive audience is provided.

The Society says that PhD graduates should not be shy about advertising their qualifications.

The Research Cooperative believes that graduates should also use every opportunity to improve their writing and presentation skills, with their own research results, and also by helping others through the reading, editing or translation of research papers - there is always work to be done.