SocArXiv highlights for May, education organizations edition

Among the many interesting papers posted to SocArXiv this month, this I’m highlighting four that circle around a loose theme: education organizations. All four this month are not-yet-published drafts, including three working papers and a very interesting dissertation chapter. As always, these are papers that caught my eye but they are not peer-reviewed; read them yourself before citing.

The Performativity of Organizational Culture in a No Excuses Charter School

Jason Radford

Okay, I’ll admit I was grabbed by the title. Love the concept or hate it, we usually associate “performativity” with economics or finance, at least since Donald MacKenzie’s work. But of course the old Thomas theorem—“If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences”—applies to our understanding of the world more generally. So why not the performativity of org theory? Many innovative or experimental organizations are grounded in theories, academic or otherwise, about what accounts for organizational success. In the case at hand, No Excuses charter schools were founded based on a theory that strong leaders could create organizational cultures that would produce educational success for disadvantaged students. This ethnographic case study of one No Excuses school explores how leadership attempted to implement their theory and reacted when the theory did not quite perform in the way it expected.

Engineering a Platform: Constructing Interfaces, Users, Organizational Roles, and the Division of Labor

Shreeharsh Kelkar

This intriguing paper, also ethnographic, reports on the development of edX, a MOOC platform started in 2012 as a nonprofit collaboration between Harvard and MIT. edX began as an educational organization—it saw itself as linking faculty and TAs with software developers and students—but eventually became a platform for other organizations to use, adopting the slogan “We do software so that you can do education.” In the process, edX had to create a new division of labor in which it did software development (internally framed as “boring”), while instructors at partner institutions would do the “interesting” work of content creation. Yet the supposedly neutral role of platform design still had huge pedagogical implications, even as edX came to distinguish what it did as an organization from “education”. The paper concludes by arguing that understanding platforms requires attending not just to “licenses, legal arrangements, and calculative agencies, but also to the shaping of organizational roles within the eco-system.”

The Ties that Corporatize: A Social Network Analysis of University Presidents as Vectors of Higher Education Corporatization

Tressie McMillan Cottom, Sally Hunnicutt, and Jennifer A. Johnson

This new working paper from Cottom and colleagues reports on a social network analysis of a dataset involving the career histories and education of presidents of Association of Public & Land-grant Universities (APLU) members, including a number of HBCUs, and a smaller sample of for-profit institutions. Presidents of predominantly white APLU institutions are tightly networked, while for-profit institutions and HBCUs are marginal to the network; the institutions with the highest degree centrality are Purdue, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas A&M—an observation that makes Purdue’s recent experiments with purchase of the for-profit Kaplan to run its online classes all the more interesting.

Engineering Credentials: Educational Entrepreneurship as Statecraft in the Cold-War United States

Alexander Kindel and Mitchell Stevens

Last but not least, this historical case study of Stanford’s postwar expansion of graduate science and engineering education engages the longstanding “credential society” literature by advocating for greater attention to the role of the state. While credentialing theory gives credit to educational entrepreneurs and the status projects of occupational groups in driving the expansion of credential-producing programs, this paper points to the fundamental role of the state in this process—through massive government patronage that schools like Stanford entrepreneurially tapped into to drive their own credentialing contributions.

This is self-evidently true for the fields that benefited from the federal government’s massive Cold War expansion of science funding, but struck another chord with me as well, as I recently revised a draft chapter on the origins of public policy schools. Policy schools, which only got started in the late 1960s, were themselves an entrepreneurial response on the part of universities to the massive demand for RAND-style analysis produced by federal rollout of the Planning-Programming-Budgeting System in 1965—making them another, very distinct case in which educational entrepreneurship could be better described as academic statecraft.

Okay, that’s it for this round. Interested in highlighting papers closer to your own interests? Shoot us an email at socarxiv@gmail.com. In the meanwhile, keep those papers coming!

Call for Papers: Open Scholarship for the Social Sciences, 2018

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October 18-19, 2018

University of Maryland, College Park

SocArXiv will host the second O3S: Open Scholarship for the Social Sciences symposium on October 18 and 19, 2018 at University of Maryland, College Park. The symposium will (a) highlight research that uses the tools and methods of open scholarship; (b) bring together researchers who work on problems of open access, publishing, and open scholarship; and (c) facilitate exchange of ideas on the development of SocArXiv.

The symposium will feature two keynote speakers: Elizabeth Popp Berman, associate professor of sociology at University at Albany, SUNY; and April Hathcock, Scholarly Communications Librarian at New York University.

We invite social science papers or presentations related to the following themes:

  1. Research on any topic that includes open scholarship components. This may entail a demonstration case showing how to do an open scholarship project, providing data and code for results, working with collaborators, or other examples of open scholarship in practice.
  2. Research about open scholarship itself. This may include mechanisms for making data and code public, workflow processes, publication considerations, citation metrics, or the tools and methods of open scholarship.
  3. Research about replication and transparency. This includes both replication studies and research about replication and reproducibility issues.

Submissions are due by June 30, 2018.

Submissions may include papers or other project materials. E-mail presentation information to socarxiv@gmail.com by June 30, 2018. Include the following information:

  • Names of author(s)/presenter(s) and contact information.
  • For non-paper presentations, include a brief description and rationale explaining how the paper fits within the themes and goals of the O3S Symposium.
  • For paper submissions, upload your paper to SocArXiv and tag it #O3S18.
  • Any AV needs beyond a laptop/projector.
  • Travel stipends of $1,000 will be available to a limited number of presenters. Please indicate whether you would like to be considered for a travel award.

Presenters will be notified of the status of their submission by July 15, 2018. All communication will be sent via e-mail.

Visit the conference page and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for information and updates. Anyone interested in open scholarship and SocArXiv is welcome to attend O3S. Registration will include a nominal fee. Information will be coming soon!  

O3S is generously sponsored by the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, the Department of Sociology, the Department of Psychology,  and the University Libraries at the University of Maryland.

What Is SocArXiv?

SocArXiv, open archive of the social sciences, is a partner of the nonprofit Center for Open Science (COS) and is housed at the University of Maryland. SocArXiv provides a free and publicly accessible platform for social scientists to upload working papers, pre-prints, published papers, data, and code. SocArXiv is dedicated to opening up social science, to reach more people more effectively, to improve research, and build the future of scholarly communication.  Since the development of SocArXiv was first announced in July 2016, researchers have deposited more than 2,100 papers.

SocArXiv highlights for April

Welcome back for a second round of monthly SocArXiv highlights. This is a way to call out a handful of the many papers that were posted in April, focusing mostly and sociology and reflecting my totally idiosyncratic tastes. Some are working papers or forthcoming articles; some are preprints of recently published work. All are freely available via OSF.

Disclaimer: I make no claim to peer review or to evaluation of the papers here. Read it yourself before you cite!

The Price of an Uncertain Promise: Fair Value Accounting and the Shaping of Bank Counterparty Risk Valuation Practices

Taylor Spears

This paper, which lies at the intersection of social studies of finance and institutionalism/field theory, is a fascinating look at how the adoption of fair value accounting by the Financial Accounting Standards Board affected the financial modeling practices used by banks. Consistent with MacKenzie (2011), the paper finds competing and conflicting valuation processes within and across organizations, and that the new standards tipped the balance in favor of a set of practices aligned with financial economics. The paper does a really nice job of showing how institutional and sociomaterial explanations can be complementary, and that both are needed to understand this kind of change.

Cultural Meanings and the Aggregation of Actions: The Case of Sex and Schooling in Malawi

Margaret Frye

This paper was published in ASR last year, but it went up on SocArXiv this month, so fair game. Maggie Frye does great and original work linking cultural accounts and demographic data. By moving between empirical evidence on sexual behavior and school-leaving, and student/teacher accounts of why sexual relationships cause girls to leave school, Frye produces a compelling account of how causal narratives — even inaccurate ones — influence actions in ways that have population-level effects.

Two from the sociology of science:

Men Set Their Own Cites High: Gender and Self-citation across Fields and over Time

Molly King, Carl Bergstrom, Shelley Correll, Jennifer Jacquet, Jevin West

and

The Matthew Effect in Science Funding

Thijs Bol, Mathijs de Vaan, and Arnout van de Rijt

The findings of these two papers may not be shocking, but both provide important new evidence of the effects they describe. The King et al. paper, published in Socius last year, shows that men cite their own work 70% more than women, and that these numbers have not changed over the last fifty years. The Bol et al. paper, published this year in PNAS, shows that early career researchers just above the funding threshold of a major European grant accumulate twice as much funding over the next eight years as those just below it. The practical takeaway, though, is that part of the gap happens because initially unfunded applicants subsequently apply for fewer grants, not only because successful applicants are more likely to be funded down the road. So women, cite your own work, and rejected grant applicants, keep on trying.

Can Cultural Consumption Increase Future Earnings? Exploring the Economic Returns to Cultural Capital

Aaron Reeves and Robert de Vries

Just yesterday a graduate student asked me if anyone had looked at whether Lauren Rivera’s finding about the cultural matching that goes on at elite firms applies to other occupational settings. I said I didn’t know of work that did (though tell me if I’m wrong!), and then I ran into this paper, forthcoming in the British Journal of Sociology. While it doesn’t look at matching per se, it does examine whether cultural consumption predicts future earnings, upward social mobility, and promotions. (Answer: yes.) This seems like an area that is ripe for interesting work and where relationships are likely to vary a great deal across industry, occupation, and location.

Okay, that’s it for this time. Keep on posting your working papers and preprints to SocArXiv and I’ll keep on sharing — at least as much as I can.

Submitted a paper for an ASA section award? Submit it to SocArXiv and be eligible for a SOAR award too

If you’ve submitted a paper to be considered for an American Sociological Association section award – including a graduate student award – consider submitting it to SocArXiv as well. Any paper that is uploaded to SocArXiv by April 30 and wins a 2018 ASA section award will, upon letting us know, receive a supplementary SOAR (Sociology Open Access Recognition) award of $250 in recognition of your achievement. Support open access, gain recognition, and win money all at the same time!

Here’s how it works: You upload your paper to SocArXiv by April 30. If it’s a published paper, check your author agreement or the Sherpa/ROMEO database to see what version, if any, you’re allowed to share. Once you find out you’ve won a section award, email socarxiv@gmail.com to notify us. We’ll send you a check for $250, as well as publicizing your paper and officially conferring a SOAR award. That’s the whole deal.

Sharing your paper through SocArXiv is a win-win. It’s good for you, because you get the word out about your research. It’s good for social science, because more people have access to ungated information. And now, with SOAR prizes for award-winning papers, it can be good for your wallet, too.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What happens if I submitted a paper, but don’t notify SocArXiv it’s won a section award?

You will only receive a SOAR award if you let SocArXiv know at socarxiv@gmail.com by August 31, 2018 that your paper has won an ASA section award.

  1. What if I upload my paper after I win the section award?

Any papers uploaded by April 30, 2018 are eligible. We welcome later sharing of papers, but they will not be eligible for SOAR awards.

  1. Does the version submitted to SocArXiv have to be identical with the version submitted to the ASA section?

The versions must be reasonably similar but do not need to be identical. For example, if you upload to SocArXiv a pre-copyediting version of your published paper that you have permission to share, but send the award committee the published version, you are still eligible for the award.

  1. I’d love to upload my paper, but my copyright agreement doesn’t allow me to. What do I do?

First, you may still have the right to upload some version of the paper, even if it is not the final published version. Check the Sherpa/ROMEO database for the preprint policies of many academic journals. If you really can’t share any version, you are unfortunately not eligible for a SOAR award. But keep in mind for next time that copyright agreements can often be edited or amended. You don’t have to give away your rights to your work.

  1. I am a graduate student submitting a paper for a graduate student section award. Am I still eligible?

Yes, absolutely. ASA section awards for graduate student papers are also eligible for SOAR.

  1. I am submitting my paper for an award in another disciplinary association. Am I eligible for SOAR?

At present SOAR awards are limited to papers recognized by ASA sections. However, we are always interested in building partnerships with other organizations and disciplines. Please reach out to us at socarxiv@gmail.com if you are interested in developing a similar program for your organization.

 

Committee on Publication Ethics offers supportive preprint recommendations

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The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) has released a discussion document on preprints. It offers a useful synopsis on the context and rationale for preprints, as well as some common challenges and ethical issues.

I hope journals and publishers will read and follow their guidance here. In particular the ethical notes that:

  • Preprints are generally not considered “publications,” so the papers can be submitted to journals.
  • However, preprints do establish “precedence,” so they should be cited by authors who are aware of them.

COPE doesn’t go so far as to recommend that journals accept preprinted papers, but they urge journals to make their policies explicit:

As the preprint landscape continues to evolve, journals may also wish to raise awareness of preprints among their editorial teams, authors, reviewers, and readers via editorials, webinars, etc. Clear policies in author and reviewer guidelines will not only clarify expectations but also provide a framework for handling submissions consistently.

As we note on our FAQ page, American Sociological Association journal policy allows consideration of papers that have been publicly posted, as long as they are not peer-reviewed:

ASA authors may post working versions of their papers on their personal web sites and non-peer-reviewed repositories. Such postings are not considered by ASA as previous publication.

By our accounting, the top sociology journals all currently allow prepublication archiving of papers.

The COPE advice for authors is also good. In short:

  • Be aware of preprint server and journal policies.
  • Read your copyright agreements.
  • When posting preprints, follow standard ethical practices for research integrity and author attribution.

Our advice goes further, advising researchers to: post papers on SocArXiv or another preprint server, publish in journals that permit distribution of papers before and after publication (we provide DOI linking to facilitate discovery and metrics), use unrestricted licenses to maximize distribution of your work, and link your papers to publicly available research materials (here’s a basic tutorial).

SocArXiv highlights for March

SocArXiv has been up and running for a year and a half now, and has accepted well over 2000 papers to date. Although you can follow the SocArXiv bot on Twitter to see what’s coming down the transom, and this page provides a running feed of the latest papers and abstracts, it’s a lot to follow – last month more than 200 papers were uploaded.

Toward the end of making this firehose of research a bit more manageable, I (Beth Popp Berman, member of the SocArXiv steering committee) thought I’d start to do a little curating. The intent at this point is to do this once a month, though clearly it could be a weekly feature.

Highlighted below are a handful of intriguing papers posted to SocArXiv recently. Selection criteria are totally idiosyncratic – sociology-centric and based on what looks intriguing to me, with some eye toward broader appeal. If you’re interested in helping to curate on a monthly basis, perhaps with a focus on a particular subfield, email me at epberman@albany.edu.

Disclaimer: I make no claim to peer review here or even to close reading of the papers to evaluate quality; some have been published and gone through peer review while others are working papers.

So, with no further ado:

The Emotional Labor of Surveillance: Evidence from the Fast Fashion Retail Industry

Madison Van Oort

This ethnography- and interview-based paper looks at just-in-time scheduling, biometric scanners, and point-of-sale metrics as forms of worker surveillance at two major “fast fashion” retailers. It details the ways these technologies shape work practices and require new kinds of emotional labor—the “emotional labor of surveillance.” I saw Van Oort present research from this project at ASA last year and it was fascinating – there is lots of room to understand how new technology is yet again restructuring the workplace through new forms of discipline than in turn produce their own resistance.

Exposure to Opposing Views can Increase Political Polarization: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment on Social Media

Christopher Bail, Lisa Argyle, Taylor Brown, John Bumpus, Haohan Chen, M.B. Fallin Hunzaker, Jaemin Lee, Marcus Mann, Friedolin Merhout, Alexander Volfovsky

This large-scale experiment got a lot of attention on (surprise) social media when it was posted a couple of weeks ago. Following a survey, authors randomly assigned Democratic and Republican Twitter users to follow a bot that would periodically tweet messages from the “other side”. After a month, they surveyed respondents again, finding that Republicans became substantially more conservative after following a liberal Twitter bot, and Democrats became slightly (but insignificantly) more liberal. Make of that what you will, but it’s interesting experimental evidence.

The Rise of the Randomistas: On the Experimental Turn in International Aid

Kevin Donovan

Speaking of experiments, this paper recently published online-first in Economy and Society looks at how randomized controlled trials became a newly dominant form of knowledge in international development. Promoted as a means of securing epistemic certainty, RCTs have reconfigured both development economics and international aid itself, yet still fail to achieve the closure hoped for by their proponents. This intriguing paper, part of a not-yet-published issue on evidence-based policy, builds on the work of scholars like Monika Krause and Gil Eyal to understand how networks of expertise are produced and maintained.

Leaving the Financial Nest: Connecting Young Adults’ Financial Independence to Financial Security

Megan Doherty Bea and Youngmin Yi

As someone with an interest in student loans and their effects, I found this paper on young adults and their reliance on family support intriguing. Clearly the ability of parents to continue to assist young adults is a difficult-to-measure but important mechanism for the reproduction of inequality. Using PSID data, this paper uses group-based trajectory analysis to identify four latent classes of young adults: consistently independent, quickly independent, gradually independent, and consistently supported. The consistently independent group, with lower average socioeconomic status, reports more financial worry and has a greater chance of being in poverty. This approach seems very promising for better understanding the mechanisms through which intergenerational advantage is transmitted and reproduced.

Too Many Papers? Slowed Canonical Progress in Large Fields of Science

Johan S. G. Chu and James Evans

Finally, and appropriate to the project of sorting through lots of papers, this short working paper uses a very large dataset (57 million papers and a billion citations) to look at how scientific fields develop as the number of papers in them grows large. Increasing size leads to “ossification” of the literature rather than increased citation of new papers, suggesting that new ideas may have trouble gaining hold as readers, overwhelmed by the literature, focus on canonical texts. This intriguing evidence could be interpreted in a number of different ways, and will doubtless generate debate over which story best fits the empirical citation patterns.

There’s lots of good stuff out there – I easily could have highlighted several times this number of papers! Again, if you’re interested in helping curate interesting work on SocArXiv, please let me know – with more people, and different tastes, we could conceivably do something a little more systematic here.

Grand challenges for open scholarship

MIT Libraries’ Grand Challenges will help set a research agenda for the development of open scholarship.

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In his keynote address, Joi Ito showed a picture of a briefcase holding the contents of Sci-Hub (tens of millions of papers), en route to India, where they may end up being legally distributed to teachers and students.

MIT Libraries just hosted a Grand Challenges summit on Information Science and Scholarly Communication. It comprised three 1.5-day workshops on (1) scholarly discovery, (2) digital curation and preservation, and (3) open scholarship (described here). The director of MIT Libraries, Chris Bourg, is on SocArXiv’s steering committee, and I was invited to participate in the open scholarship workshop, so we were well represented (participant list).

The workshops focused on defining core challenges and proposing a research agenda to address them in a 7- to 10-year time frame. This builds on MIT’s Task Force of the Future of Libraries report, among other efforts. The organizers and participants will produce a report on this agenda in the next few months; we’ll report back.

In the meantime, I wanted to highlight one of the recommended readings, a paper by Micah Altman (the libraries’ director of research) and Marguerite Avery, “Information wants someone else to pay for it: Laws of information economics and scholarly publishing.” It’s an excellent introduction to the problem of markets in scholarly publishing, very approachable for social scientists interested in the political economy of what the jargon calls the “scholarly communication ecosystem.”

In general, the trends in scholarly communication are more, more and more. In 2011, the value of the market in 2011 was estimated to be $23.5 billion. But there is one area in which the trend is “less” and that is in market competition. Although the number of publications and journals is expanding at approximately three percent a year, and the market is expanding at four percent, the number of mergers and acquisitions over the past three decades have dramatically decreased the diversity of and competition among publishers. Today, following the recent merger of MacMillan and Springer, the market is dominated by a handful of companies: Pearson, Reed Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Thomson/Reuters and Wolters Kluwer. These companies happen to be the top four publishing companies globally as well. And this is the culmination of a long-term trend: over the last three decades, there has been dramatic consolidation in the scholarly publishing industry. Profit margins are commensurately high, with some credible estimates of Elsevier’s profit margin as high as thirty-seven percent. Thus far, there are no signs that the general expansion of the content, contributors, and audience for scholarly outputs has countered this decline in competition.

The paper offers explanations for this failure of market competition, concluding:

Even in the long run, economic theory itself predicts that left to the market, too little knowledge will be created, too little used, and access to too much of what is available will be controlled by a small group of distributors.

They further caution that openness itself — especially defined only as free-to-read, does not a guarantee a system of “robust, sustainable scholarly communication.”

We may reach the point when the small number of for-profit companies that control academic publishing are able to describe their publishing output as “open access,” while simultaneously cementing their control over knowledge.

Finally, Altman and Avery offer a list of the “affordances” offered by current academic publications — the uses that different groups or institutions expect from them — and propose using new technology to unbundle these tasks, rather than presume they will remain bundled in the current, relatively ancient system of publication. This is a useful exercise for imagining future scholarly communication systems. Here is their table of affordances:

Table 1 from Altman & Avery 2015: DOI 10.3233/ISU-150775

One of my goals for the next year is assembling a curriculum on academic publishing, suitable for beginning social scientists and others interested in learning how this system works, the better to change it. This paper, and the work coming out of the MIT Grand Challenges summit, will be on the list. Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments, or send them to me at pnc@umd.edu.