From the Back Burner to the Front Burner: How Analytics Re-ignite Ideas


by Courtney Quirin

Ronald Faulseit

Archaeologist Ronald Faulseit of DePaul University no longer has to feel guilty when he indulges in his pet project— Mayan astronomy. Rather, exposure on has justified his endeavors and has even given him something to write about.

"I’m surprised by how much interest one of my papers gets," says Ronald. "It’s a very technical paper on Mayan astronomy.

Usually only drawing a small crowd at conferences, Ronald’s side pursuit of Mayan astronomy had all the signs and symptoms of a small topic lost in the expansive sea of archaeology. Consequently, Ronald thought his audience was narrow, and rarely went beyond presenting his ideas at conferences, that is until he started checking his analytics.

“Honestly I thought that there were only a few people who were interested in that work,” says Ronald. “But seeing that there’s a wider interest in it and that there are actually a lot more people who are looking at these things shows me that it’s worthwhile to keep pursuing this topic.

So then rather keep his ideas simmering on the back burner, Ronald decided to move forward and put the flame on high. Presenting a paper on Mayan astronomy last year, interest sparked by encouraged Ronald to write up his abstract into an article, which will be published in an edited volume later this year.

The popularity of his Mayan pursuits has made Ronald reflect on the interest generated by some of his other papers, which, as the main topics of research, account for the majority of his academic endeavors.

“One of my first publications was in a very small journal that’s not widely available. Maybe 10 people had read the paper in this little journal, and I knew all of them!” says Ronald. “But then I put it on and now it’s my most-viewed paper. People from all over the world have read it, or at least looked at it. It’s pretty cool to see that you can have this broader communication with”

And with this broader communication, Ronald anticipates more interaction and discussion, ultimately helping his own career.

“ gives you a lot of access to a lot of different things and keeps you up-to-date on whatever people are posting. So obviously if you have this kind of interaction, and if you’re building on ideas and sharing them in this way, it will definitely get you more exposure and people will begin to know who you are when you’re applying for jobs. Then, I think that it will become even more important as you’re going for tenure— people will be exposed to your academic record and see what kind of contribution you’re making. I think career-wise, it’s a really positive thing.”

Recognizing the fruits of exposure through, Ronald actually thinks the perks will be even greater for the field itself. 

“Nowadays there are so many researchers focusing on so many different things and helps weed out all of the noise. It’s like a filter,” says Ronald. “You can look at who is writing about what you’re doing, create a bibliography of work, and then build on that rather than reinvent the wheel— you can move to the next step.”

Thinking about his own next move once his article on Mayan astronomy is published later this year, Ronald plans to post it on with the hopes that it will be shared and discussed, helping others take their next step as well.

“It’s more likely more people will read it on then will even know it exists in the edited volume!” says Ronald.

Academic Bio:
Ronald Faulseit is an Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at DePaul University and post-doc at Southern Illinois University- Carbondale where his research centers around Mesoamerican archaeology. His current fieldwork takes place in the Oaxaca Valley in Mexico where he investigates changes and continuities in behavioral patterns at the household and community level before and after the collapse of the Monte Albán state during the Classic period (A.D. 200 - 900).

Ronald’s work can be viewed here.


by Courtney Quirin, Science Writer

Comments Jul 31, 2013

Sidestepping ‘The Practice Trap’


by Courtney Quirin

imagePsychologist Patrick Larsson of the National Health Service (UK) is on his toes, weary of the fragile line he walks. With one slip of his attention paired with the grind of seeing clients day-in and day-out, Patrick could easily get sucked into “The Practice Trap”.

Simply put, The Practice Trap is this: “When you don’t have any time for the academic side.”

“As a practice-based psychologist it becomes easy to fall into the trap,” adds Patrick. “So you really have to be proactive in trying to expand your thinking around issues in mental health and psychology, which is why I try and keep up through”

Outside of his practicing hours, Patrick has been making incredibly efficient use of the little free time and energy that he has, publishing up to two manuscripts a year, a feat that is driven out of a genuine interest in adding to the body of scientific literature. (As a non-academic practicing psychologist, publish or perish does not rule the trajectory of his career). Fueled by the discovery of unique and thought-provoking articles, lately Patrick’s academic productivity has hinged on the access afforded by Working for the National Health Services, Patrick’s access to academic databases is otherwise sparse.

Particularly attracted to works in critical and political psychology, Patrick says, “ can really expand your thinking by seeing what other psychologists are writing about and the ideas that they’re developing outside of the more traditional research that we write.”

“When you’re working as a psychologist, the material we use is quite narrow— it is very evidence-based material and doesn’t really stray into other areas,” adds Patrick.

Expanding his horizons through allows Patrick to step back and observe the constellation of psychology and mental health as a whole, seeing how these fields are shaped by more than just the randomized control trials much of his psychology training was based on. Instead, now Patrick can see the evolution of thoughts regarding mental health and psychology, and how these practices are also shaped by less quantifiable systems, like socioeconomic and political environments.

Sparking innovation and excitement about the field with each paper that pops into his news feed, Patrick says, “ shows that there are a lot of people out there thinking differently, and it’s quite fun to see people’s ideas be developed.”

Academic Bio:
Patrick Larsson is a London-based counseling psychologist for the National Health Service of the United Kingdom. As a counseling psychologist, Patrick works in primary care seeing over 20 clients per week on a range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression and interpersonal difficulties. Patrick received a PsychD from the University of Roehampton in 2010.

Patrick’s work can be viewed here.


by Courtney Quirin, Science Writer

Comments Jul 29, 2013

Trending Papers on

This Week’s Most Viewed Papers 

Each day thousands of users scour the site, discovering new research topics and catching wind of trending papers.

Here’s what sparked the curiosity of users this week:

The impacts of climate change on Thailand — namely prolonged droughts, decreased agricultural and fishery yields, violent flooding, sea level rise and health-related issues — are already serious and will likely create or exacerbate a number of additional problems during the next few decades. While the government has begun framing policies to both adapt to and mitigate climate change, its response so far has been limited due to shortcomings in both the planning and implementation processes. Climate change will retard the country’s growth and enormously strain the country’s political system, state and society.

In 2013, the world is entering the sixth year of the global crisis. In those six years, sparked by the unfolding events, there has developed a burgeoning literature regarding the origins, conjunctures and regional manifestations of the crisis. In many ways, this debate evolved from long-term disputes regarding the nature of the current phase of capitalism and its periodization (monopoly-finance capitalism, post-Fordism, finance driven accumulation regime, financial-market capitalism, neoliberalism, high-tech capitalism etc.) and has brought to light the epistemological and political differences between the various approaches. It is the goal of this paper to shed some light on the political articulations of the global crisis and assess the interrelations between global leadership efforts seeking exit strategies from the crisis and the hegemonic struggles underlying their agencies.

These comments are my first effort to think through, in public, some very difficult, controversial and complex questions about the transformations of American society. Let me start by explaining the war referred to in my title. The war refers to the sweeping transformation of American society that has defined the last quarter of the twentieth century, a transformation, even a revolution, that has apparently enabled neoliberals and neoconservatives to work together in some unnamed common cause.

At the beginning of the 21st century, creativity is changing, both in the way we conceptualize and understand it and in the practices of creativity. In this article, we summarize the emerging changes and articulate their outlines, drawing on creativity research, popular culture, the “networked” society, and a variety of other sources.

Current research offers some tantalizing support for claims that psychedelics can be used to enhance cognition, improve intelligence, and strengthen cognitive studies.

The phrase ‘diasporic cosmopolitanism’ juxtaposes the seemingly opposite sensibilities of communalism and openness. This specific modification of the term cosmopolitanism reflects a broader propensity among scholars of every day migrant life to link the term cosmopolitanism with a modifier that implies its opposite—-vernacular, rooted, ghetto and diasporic. These seemingly contradictory terms query hegemonic assumptions about how cosmopolitanism is lived, whose cosmopolitanism is being noted and who is in fact open to the world.

Ethnographic practice developed within anthropology as a fieldwork method and methodology that values uncertainty and the necessary reflexivity this triggers. In order to give this epistemological challenge a chance, ethnographers were allowed sufficient time to soak in ‘Otherness’. Time was deemed indispensable to cope with the ambiguity of what exactly to look for while ‘being there’, in the field. Long periods of waiting were seen as a precondition for creativity and serendipity. But how to guarantee these unpredictable scientific values while various authorities and media demand from anthropologists, like from other scholars in the social sciences, to shed light on what is going on immediately; they have to write and publish quickly to keep their ethnographic account relevant before it becomes obsolete, hereby blurring the line between the anthropological quest and journalistic accounts. 

“Idols” hold great power in Japan. Referring to highly produced singers, models, and media personalities, idols can be male or female, and tend to be young, or present themselves as such; they appeal to various demographics, and often broad crosssections of society. Idols are interchangeable and disposable commodities that “affiliate with the signifying processes of Japanese consumer capitalism”. From popular music and photo albums to fashion and accessories, idols are produced and packaged to maximize consumption. At the same time, they are the currency of exchange in the promotion and advertising of all manner of other products and services. For the Japanese consumer, immersed in a culture of celebrity, the idol is coterminous with consumption. In the Japanese media system, organized around idols, the consumer is positioned as a fan. For the fan-consumer, the idol as an object of desire is a fantasy or ideal construct, a “mirror” reflection, which resonates with deep affective or emotional meaning.

In September 2008, underwater archaeologists discovered a pointed wooden object in the Ljubljanica River near Sinja Gorica in Ljubljansko barje. Its shape is reminiscent of Palaeolithic leaf-shaped stone and bone points. Two wood samples were dated and found to be made and used around the time the Neanderthals were gradually becoming extinct and the first anatomically modern humans were beginning their journey from the Middle East to Europe. Te Ljubljanica site thus joins four other European sites that have produced remains of wooden hunting weapons dating to the Palaeolithic

Despite the proliferation of critical studies of communication, the meanings of the words “communication” and “critical” remain deeply contested. Attending to the history of the use of these terms inside and outside of the academy offers a broader perspective on some of the most pressing issues confronting scholars of communication today.


by Courtney Quirin, Science Writer

Comments Jul 26, 2013

Tenured Tips for


by Courtney Quirin

Brian Sinclair

Exposure, accessibility and sharing. Three reasons why tenured University of Calgary Architecture Professor, Brian Sinclair, joined two months ago.

“ presents an opportunity to both understand the landscape of scholarship that’s happening internationally, and also to share— in a broader kind of way— the scholarship that I’m engaged in. It has to do with exposure, accessibility, and sharing. Those are the big motivators for me,” says Brian.

Trotting across the globe for presentations, conferences, research, and independent consulting, Brian has a far-reaching network, but one that at times can be difficult to tend, especially in the summer when he’s on the road most days. So Brian joined to stay plugged into the “community of scholars catalogued by the site”, even when he himself is far off the grid.

“I have a lot of interaction internationally, but to be able to post my papers and begin to see where the attraction is coming from in a more formal or systematic way is really quite interesting and quite valuable,” adds Brian.

And while Brian is still discovering the varying degrees of value of this exposure, his experiences within just two months of joining have already highlighted several key ways that can help even tenured, highly-networked professors like himself.

Prior to joining, Brian used a mix of his personal website, LinkedIn and Archinect (a site specific to architecture and design) to showcase his work. But these sites couldn’t quite capture the dynamic nature of Brian’s research, consequently excluding potential key audiences from his work. Working on topics ranging from environmental design and super-tall buildings to slums and informal settlements in places like Japan, Brian’s scholarship taps into architecture and psychology, two disciplines he holds post-graduate degrees in.

“At a lot of the conferences I present at there’s an equal chance of having mathematicians and biologists as having architects or urban planners,” adds Brian on how his work intentionally transcends disciplinary boundaries.

And while his previous academic networking and sharing sites did not account for the breadth of his work and potential audience, does.

“ allows for a much more potent interdisciplinary reach, which is good,” says Brian. “Many academics today— for all sorts of reasons— are reaching beyond their disciplinary lines, and I think really permits that kind of exploration and encourages those kind of linkages across disciplinary boundaries, which is healthy and very, very valuable.”

And as Brian continues to straddle disciplines and wade into new, overlapping academic communities on, he’s also learning some new lingo that has been expanding his reach. By closely studying the keyword categories catalogued within the site, Brian has learned how to identify the nuanced differences in academic language spanning communities, essential for clearly communicating his ideas to a broad audience.

“Cataloguing and categorizing through the keywords is really valuable,” says Brian. “Sometimes I’ll do a search on a particular topic and that topic might be cast in a couple of ways with different keywords. It’s intriguing for me to search around and discover the various communities of scholars using these keywords.”

And from casting his net wide and disseminating his research into diverse academic communities united on, Brian has discovered yet another value that he hasn’t been able to find anywhere else: formal feedback.

Fascinated by the differences in document views by countries, Brian is understanding more about where the “market” exists for each research topic he’s engaged in. Not only tickling this international academic’s curious bone, this information helps Brian fine-tune what topics to further explore depending on what neck of the woods he is in.

“I do a lot of research and consulting in places beyond North America, so to be able to see that in a particular part of the world there’s an interest in one of my areas of research tells me that I should begin to pursue some opportunities for building awareness and lecturing to professional and governmental organizations in those jurisdictions,” adds Brian.

Already reaping the rewards of in just two months, Brian plans to spend the upcoming academic year following up on the feedback he’s received, reaching out to network and build connections, and exploring the catalogue of communities and topics housed on the site.

“One of the things to underscore is the possibility for exchange and the access and the searchability of the database based on commonly-accepted categories or keywords.  These are things that even an established academic, who is very active internationally, can gain considerable benefit from,” says Brian adding, “ is a pretty potent way of expanding or enhancing your exposure.”

Academic Bio:
Brian Sinclair is a Professor of Architecture and Environmental Design at the University of Calgary. He has held many administrative roles over his career, including Dean of the Faculty of Environmental Design and Presidential Advisor on Design+Sustainability at the University of Calgary. Brian holds a Master’s in Psychology, Master’s in Environmental Design (architecture), and PhD in Human Environmental Sciences and Architectural Studies.

Broadly speaking, Brian’s research investigates the overlap between the physical design of realm, like construction, and the psychological and sociological ways in which people inhabit and build cities. Topics covered by Brian’s research include: place-making and placelessness, such as forced migration through climate change, and the psychology of dimensions of human behavior that inform how and where people live; the collision of science and spirituality; and the advanced technology behind super-tall buildings and how urban dwellers interface with such designs.

Brian’s work can be viewed here.


by Courtney Quirin, Science Writer

Comments Jul 24, 2013

On Why Reaching Out Matters


by Courtney Quirin

Matt Rowberry

Moving from the UK to the Czech Republic to join the Institute of Rock Structure and Mechanics, geological engineer Matt Rowberry needed a plan; while finding a job after his post-doc was a weight off of his shoulders, Matt’s new gig brought with it a different bag of challenges, namely figuring out how to fund his new research on fracking and fault displacement. Bearing the burden of finding funding solely on his own, Matt knew that increasing his citations would be key, so he turned to to execute step one of his plan: gaining readership.

"Citations themselves are important for grant proposals, so it was about how I could reach out to the widest possible audience with the eventual hope of getting citations, which would then improve my chances of getting funding in the future," says Matt on why he joined

Looking to be competitive in the race for funding, gaining citations isn’t about prestige or boosting his ego. Rather, Matt sees citations as a vehicle to what so many of us desire: career freedom.

“Citations can really give you the freedom to do whatever research you want. I’m looking for that sort of freedom,” says Matt.

And while the seeds for citations are still germinating (we all know how painfully long the publication process can be), rising readership has caused other opportunities to bud, like the rebirth of long-shelved research, which, when in full bloom, may very well help Matt gain that freedom he’s been looking for.

“It’s not necessarily about reaching an entirely new audience,” says Matt on the goal of gaining readership on “It’s about finding people who can stimulate my interests and move what I’ve done forward.”

For example, lately Matt has been receiving an unexpectedly large amount of messages from academics interested in his post-doc research in South Africa— work that hasn’t been published, but rather just exists in the form of conference abstracts— setting the wheels in motion for something larger.

“It’s given me the impetus to write up that research into coherent papers rather than just leaving them as abstracts,” says Matt.  

But writing up his abstracts into full publications isn’t just fueled by his rising document views. Rather, the messages he’s received from curious academics have evolved into productive discussions that have sparked new ways of interpreting his work, recharging Matt’s battery and enhancing his ability to contribute to the growing body of scientific literature.

“The important thing about the people who have contacted me,” says Matt, “is that they have a different type of understanding to mine. So it’s about finding common ground and working out where the gaps are in my understanding in order to produce manuscripts that are scientifically rigorous.”

And while a high citation count may be a precondition to rising in the ranks for funding and inevitably gaining research freedom, it’s also the outcome of producing scientifically-sound manuscripts, something that Matt’s new readership on is helping him do.

Academic Bio:
Matt Rowberry is a Research Scientist at the Institute of Rock Structure and Mechanics, an extension of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. As a geological engineer, Matt’s research spans many topics from the evolutionary geomorphology of Wales (PhD research) and of southern Africa following the break-up of Gondwana (his post-doc research) to investigating whether fracking can induce fault displacement and thus trigger earthquakes (his current research).

Matt’s work can be viewed here.


by Courtney Quirin, Science Writer

Comments Jul 22, 2013

Trending Papers on

This Week’s Most Viewed Papers 

Each day thousands of users scour the site, discovering new research topics and catching wind of trending papers.

Here’s what sparked the curiosity of users this week:

On a Friday evening in the spring of 1375, William Cantilupe, a knight of the relatively young age of thirty and the great-great-nephew of St Thomas of Hereford, was murdered by members of his household. His murder, which took place in his wife’s family manor in Scotton in Lincolnshire, marked the final stage of the fall of the house of Cantilupeas, a major baronial family in medieval England. Although the legal records of the subsequent murder trials have been known since 1936, the motives for the murder have been the subject of much speculation. In this paper we shall combine a re-examination of the murder of William Cantilupe with a case initiated seven years earlier between his brother, Nicholas, and Nicholas’ wife.

“Love hurts”— as the saying goes — and a certain amount of pain and difficulty in intimate relationships is unavoidable. Sometimes it may even be beneficial, since adversity can lead to personal growth, self-discovery, and a range of other components of a life well-lived. But other times, love can be downright dangerous. It may bind a spouse to her domestic abuser, draw an unscrupulous adult toward sexual involvement with a child, put someone under the insidious spell of a cult leader, and even inspire jealousy-fueled homicide. How might these perilous devotions be diminished? The ancients thought that treatments such as phlebotomy, exercise, or bloodletting could “cure” an individual of love. But modern neuroscience and emerging developments in psychopharmacology open up a range of possible interventions that might actually work. These developments raise profound moral questions about the potential use—and misuse—of such anti-love biotechnology. In this essay we describe a number of prospective love-diminishing interventions, and offer a preliminary ethical framework for dealing with them responsibly should they arise.

This is an essay on a suggestive parallel between photographs of the Chinese torture and execution known as the “death by a thousand cuts,” and the routine protocols of art history known as formal analysis and iconography. I attempt to demonstrate that art history’s most fundamental, apparently neutral, preparatory exercises in seeing and analysis, taught to every beginning student, carry a burden of invasiveness and pain.

The paper goes into the origin of rock art and discusses the theory that two-dimensional art could have found its origin in altered states of consciousness. Etnographical examples of other ‘primitive’ cultures inducing altered states gives an idea of how this might have worked in the Palaeolithic.

With the end of the military rule and the emergence of democratic government with the mantra of speedy development of the Nigerian State in the new millennium, there was a great surge of optimism that Nigeria, a giant in Africa, could use its enormous resources for socio-economic development. Working in tandem with the global effort to eradicate poverty in all developing nations, there was expectation from the ordinary citizens that their plight would be a thing of the past. However, the nine years of democratic governance in Nigeria in the 21st century has not amounted to poverty eradication or alleviation. The seeming efforts of government within this period has not yielded positive fruits, but have rather depreciated, decimated and disenchanted the poor citizens, while feeding them crumbs when an advanced socio-economic life should be their lot. Thus, we posit that there is a missing link that needs to be bridged through empowerment of the poor and increasing their influence on decision-making in the Nigerian State.

With improving professionalism of sports around the world, the volume and frequency of training required for competitive performances at the elite level has increased concurrently. With this amplification in training load comes an increased need to closely monitor the associated fatigue responses, since maximising the adaptive response to training is also reliant on avoiding the negative consequences of excessive fatigue. The rationale for the experimental chapters in this thesis was established after considering survey responses regarding current best practice for monitoring fatigue in high performance sporting environments. Outcomes from the subsequent series of studies aimed to provide practitioners working in high performance sport with guidelines for using vertical jumps to monitor athletic fatigue.

Many contributors to this volume will be discussing religions of the other in the ancient world, as seen through the eyes of the ancients themselves: how the ROmans viewed the Jews, how the Greeks viewed the Egyptians, and so on. I would like to do something different; I would like to look at a group of people whom scholars of ancient religions themselves tend to view as practicing a strange religion: namely, those who recreate ancient religions in the contemporary world, or neopagans.

This paper reflects upon the “life issues” of population growth and reproductive health in the Philippines in the context of the ongoing congressional deliberation of House Bill 5043. Specific attention is paid to the influence of the Roman Catholic Church upon this process, through an analysis of the institutional pronouncements and edicts made by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). It still remains to be seen whether HB5043 will be passed into law. What can be observed even at this stage, however, is that there may well be a discordance between Church proclamations regarding faith-based sexual morality on the one hand, and popular opinion and actual practices under difficult economic and social circumstances on the other. In this respect, sustainable population control in the Philippines continues to be an uphill battle, given the Church’s persistent association of artificial contraception with a pernicious “culture of death”.


Fatality from Spasmo-Proxyvon Addiction: A Few Cases

Author: Venkata Raghava S., Vijay Kautilya D., Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth University, Bheemappa Havanur, and Devadass PK

Total Views: 496

Ever since the information technology revolution hit India in a big way, substance abuse has been rising in incidence by leaps and bounds, mainly because of the ease with which such substances can be procured through the Internet. But because these drugs are covered by the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, there has beena recent trend towards abuse of pharmaceutical agents such as pentazocine, propoxyphene and buprenorphine. Spasmo-Proxyvon® is a popular brand of antispasmodic from Wockhardt. This paper highlights three cases of death due to addiction to Spasmo-Proxyvon®.

This paper is based on two international research projects. It discusses two different groups of objects, runic ring sword pommels and pottery found in Merovingian Gaul and Anglo-Saxon Kent. It is concluded that our comparative mapping of the runic swords, pottery and brooches suggests that the distribution patterns reflect a limited Anglo-Saxon settlement in Gaul on the one hand, whereas the runic Bifrons-Gilton typering sword pommels appear to be indicative of a brief implantation of Merovingian hegemony in Kent during MA 2 (520/30–560/70).


by Courtney Quirin, Science Writer

Comments Jul 19, 2013

A Case for Open Access: When the Public Values Scholarly Work


by Courtney Quirin

Rebecca Kennison

Recently two of Rebecca Kennison’s papers on were picked up by the media— one a gossip column, which called Rebecca’s paper on the gender-bending fashion choices of famed actress Marlene Dietrich a “good scholarly read on ‘double drag’”, and the other, which featured a co-authored article on the mystical experiences of Hildegard of Bingen and Joan of Arc.  While the media attention “tickled” Rebecca, the flood of profile and document views that followed, which then trickled down into her other publications, made her ecstatic.

“This indicated to me how the public really does value the work that’s being done by scholars and academics. And if you put it out there, who knows what can happen,” says Rebecca.

Working as Director of the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS) at Columbia University, Rebecca’s day job is not as an academic, per se, so the potential to increase citations through this media attention isn’t what drove her excitement. Rather, it was evidence that her decade-long work in scholarly communication and pursuit of open access hasn’t been in vain. (Side note: Rebecca was employee number one at PLOS).

“To me it was much more about the openness of the system and the design of to allow people to easily find scholarly works and repurpose them in really surprising ways,” says Rebecca.

“I think one of the attractive things about is its potential to give people access to materials that they otherwise wouldn’t have,” she adds.

Other than allowing the general public to take a dip into the seemingly undisclosed world of academics, Rebecca has also experienced’s ability to keep old articles afloat, even when their journals sink into the abyss of discontinued publications which soon become forgotten as the digital age grows.

For example, the article picked up by was housed in Mystics Quarterly, a journal that went out of print in 2007. Without an open repository like the article would have been inaccessible to all but a few, and mostly likely wouldn’t have been picked up by

Involved in scholarly communication for over 10 years, Rebecca has seen many academics besides herself benefit from open access platforms like For example, soon after posting a book on (with permission from her publisher), one of Rebecca’s colleagues now has more document views than book sales from the last five years.

Commenting on her colleague’s experience, Rebecca adds, “I think that was very gratifying for her because now it is much more likely that people are going to cite her book than they did in the past.”

Believing in the broad dissemination of research and scholarly work, Rebecca and the CDRS encourage Columbia’s faculty and students to upload their papers and research on “all kinds of places where their work can be found”, including repositories like

“ truly builds on fast, new knowledge exchange, and the density of networks is also really important. You guys make it really easy for people to find people!” says Rebecca.

Academic Bio:
Rebecca Kennison is the Director of the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS) at Columbia University, where she advises faculty and staff on topics of scholarly communication, runs Columbia’s in-house repository, and is involved in activities related to publications and hosting journals. Prior to the CDRS, Rebecca was a production manager and editor at a variety of publishers and online networks, including PLOS, in which she was employee number one and the Director of Production for four years. Rebecca has a PhD in English from Northeastern University and an MA in English language and literature from Arizona State University.

Rebecca’s work can be viewed here.


by Courtney Quirin, Science Writer

Comments Jul 17, 2013

Breaking Free of the Pigeonhole


by Courtney Quirin

Blesson Varghese

Though fear of being pigeonholed plagues many PhD holders, University of St. Andrews computer science post-doc, Blesson Varghese, has found a way to curtail this concern simply by showcasing (and tagging) the gamut of his subtly diverse work on

“I can basically present myself to a community without having to do anything in addition to posting my papers and putting in my tags,” says Blesson.

Working in the realm of high-performance computing, at first glance many outsiders are simply confused, or uninterested, in his work, says Blesson, never making it beyond the title. But tagging his papers with overlapping fields has broken disciplinary barriers, opening the eyes of new readers by translating the relevance and potential application of his work with a simple word. As a result Blesson has seen far more profile hits from communities outside of computer science, which pleases this modest interdisciplinary academic.

“In a purely pedantic sense, I do high-performance computing. But there are these minor offshoots in which I’ve worked, and the danger I’ve found is that I’ve not presented myself as a researcher who has worked in those offshoots. But with I can easily present those offshoots for each paper— I don’t just merely have to list high performance computing,” adds Blesson.

Without tagging, and the open access and multi-disciplinary nature of, Blesson says his work would be lost in “a big clump” of seemingly inaccessible or irrelevant research, a loss to other communities who could benefit from the potential impact of his work.

“If I was working on something like artificial intelligence,” explains Blesson, “then I could describe my research in a non-computer science way by tagging it as cognition or psychology or neuroscience, which would be of interest to some medical communities.”

But translating the potential application of his work to others also requires an understanding of what is needed or “has currency” in other communities, something that Blesson’s keyword analytics help him identify.

“One of the important things for researchers is to be able to articulate the broader areas where they can have impact. I think’s keywords and tags help do that,” says Blesson.

Academic Bio:
Blesson Varghese is a post-doc in computer science at the Big Data Laboratory, University of St. Andrews where he is working on constraint programming and cloud computing. Prior to St. Andrews, Blesson was a post-doc in the Risk Analytics Laboratory, Dalhousie University and worked on high-performance computing systems for risk modeling and management.

Blesson’s work can be viewed here.


by Courtney Quirin, Science Writer

Comments Jul 15, 2013

Trending Papers on

This Week’s Most Viewed Papers 

Each day thousands of users scour the site, discovering new research topics and catching wind of trending papers.

Here’s what sparked the curiosity of users this week:


On the Nature of Creepiness

Author: Francis T. McAndrew and Sara S. Koehnke, Knox College

Total Views: 2,541

Given how frequently the concept of “creepiness” is invoked in everyday life to describe the relationships and encounters that we have with others, it is surprising that it has not been studied in a formal way. This study attempted to uncover the cues that are used to label someone as “creepy” and to identify the basic elements of creepiness.


Sperm Competition in Humans: Implications for Male Sexual Psychology, Physiology, Anatomy, and Behavior

Author: Aaron Goetz, California State University-Fullerton, Todd K. Shackelford, Oakland University, Steven M. Platek, University of Liverpool, Valerie G. Starratt, Florida Atlantic University, and William F. McKibbin, Florida Atlantic University

Total Views: 478

With the recognition afforded by evolutionary science that female infidelity was a recurrent feature of our evolutionary past has come the development of a new area of study within human mating: sperm competition. A form of male-male postcopulatory competition, sperm competition occurs when the sperm of two or more males concurrently occupy the reproductive tract of a female and compete to fertilize her ova. We review the recent theoretical and empirical work on human sperm competition, identify limitations and challenges of the research, and higlight important directions for future research.

Hunting of large felids in Latin America is common throughout their range mostly as retaliation for cattle predation. Until recently, few records reported hunting of these species for consumption, and in general its use, other than as a trophy, was scarcely reported in literature. Here we present two noteworthy records of puma, Puma concolor, hunting for meat consumption in Colombia. Both records are considered occasional. However, they fit with an apparent widespread pattern in the Northern regions of Colombia

Analysis of a set of bones redeposited in a medieval abbey graveyard showed that the individual had been beheaded and chopped up, and this in turn suggested one of England’s more gruesome execution practices. Since quartering was generally reserved for the infamous, the author attempts to track down the victim and proposes him to be Hugh Despenser, the lover of King Edward II.

Reports by organisations such as Stonewall and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation concerning LGBTQ visibility in the mainstream media make it quite clear that the only thing more rare than a well-developed lesbian storyline is one that deals lesbian relationships between teenagers. However, between 2009 and 2010, the British teen drama series ‘Skins’ bucked that trend with its sensitive portrayal of the romance between Naomi Campbell (Lily Loveless) and Emily Fitch (Kathryn Prescott). The ensuing fan frenzy catapulted ‘Naomily’ to the status of super-couple and transformed their story into an international, transmedia pop culture phenomenon. The Naomily phenomenon is worthy of closer study for a variety of reasons, but in this paper I want to explore the aspects of queerness that inform Naomi and Emily’ relationship and examine how that queerness is integral to the storyline’s massive success.

"Bleach" is a manga best-selling in the US and Japan in the early 2000s, published by Shuesha in its weekly "Shonen Jump" imprint; however, in America the "first arc" ("Soul Society Arc") of the story was received to great success, with the "second" ("Arrancar") and "third" ("Hueco Mundo") "arcs" meeting with great derision as "filler material" and plot-recycling. However, I posit that much of this is due to cultural barriers, as the latter two arcs rely heavily on esoteric Buddhist symbology such as Aizen Myo-o and wish-fulfilling jewels, which were set up in the first arc.

The concern with national integration is not only timely but of the utmost importance for a number of good reasons. For one thing, contemporary political history in Nigeria demonstrates time and again what may justifiably be considered a failure at attempts in mobilizing its vast human and natural resource to form a unified national state. Since the return to civil rule in May 1999, there have been well over 100 religious and ethnic conflicts resulting in great losses of lives and property. These conflicts raise serious questions of the constitution and future direction of the country as a single nation.

The influence of population on the economy is seemingly straightforward. It is about having enough resources to meet the needs of the growing number of people. Since the same resource base is shared by all members of the society, everybody is affected by development and many are deprived of their access to the same resources. High population growth rate means rapid growth of the school-age population that spreads out even more thinly the already very scarce resources for basic education development. This study explores access to resources between urban and non/less-urban populations and its impact on basic education development using evidence from Cebu Province to highlight the straightforward relationship between population growth and basic education.

This article reviews the presently available supply of textbooks and introductions to the new academic field of study known as ‘Western esotericism’. By analogy with computer software, the author refers to the early ‘religionist’ phase of research in this domain as ‘Western esotericism 1.0’. He argues that Antoine Faivre’s small French textbook ‘Lésotérisme (1992) marked the beginning of a more satisfactory upgrade that might be referred to as ‘Western esotericism 2.0’ and remains dominant in teaching and research today. A critical review of textbooks and introductions representative of this second pahse of academic professionalisation reveals a number of structural problems and weaknesses that need to be corrected in order for the field to complete its adolescence and reach academic maturity.

Planned change in nursing practice is necessary for a wide range of reasons, but it can be challenging to implement. Understanding and using a change theory framework can help mangers or other change agents to increase the likelihood of success. This article considers three change theories and discusses how one in particular can be used in practice.


by Courtney Quirin, Science Writer

Comments Jul 12, 2013

Cohesion to Columbia


by Courtney Quirin

WaiChing Sun

Looking for correlations between topic, readership, and countries, WaiChing Sun of Sandia National Laboratories keeps a sharp eye on his analytics, especially after giving an important presentation or after applying for a job. And while this habit may seem a bit fastidious for some, it’s helped WaiChing fine-tune the relevance and power of his research, which recently landed him a tenure track position at Columbia University.

WaiChing explains: “For example, when I try a different topic and have a paper published, I can see how frequently people read it and I can judge how relevant the topic is. Or if I attend a conference, sometimes after a few days people download more articles on a particular topic, and then I can see how much impact I can have and I can use that to judge how to invest my time in that research topic and how likely it is to get funding.”

But now that he’s landed a tenure-track position at a top tier university certainly doesn’t mean that WaiChing’s analytics-tracking days are behind him. Rather, he anticipates that his profile will become even more useful as he takes the next giant leap in his career.

“I need to keep track of my research progress, the readership, and my broad impact,” says WaiChing about thriving at Columbia, and for him is a concise way to do that.

“It’s good to have all of my manuscripts or articles in one page— it’s much easier to search for things,” adds WaiChing. “ is a good way to have a cohesive presence so that people can see you as a researcher, as an individual person.”

This cohesion, having all of his articles in one spot, not only helps him track his readership and calibrate his research, but it also provides a reservoir of resources for potential employers. After seeing huge spikes in his document views following applying to jobs, including his new position at Columbia, WaiChing is glad that he had his account throughout the job hunt.

“It’s important to have everything in place— I think that will be a big advantage,” says WaiChing.

Academic Bio:
WaiChing Sun is currently a senior member of technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories, a contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. WaiChing recently accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position at Columbia University where he will continue his research on geomechanics and utilizing computer simulations to address complex multiphysics problems in engineering, particularly within an earthquake- and energy-related. His other line of research includes investigating how hydrogen changes metal behaviors. WaiChing received his PhD in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from Northwestern University.

WaiChing’s work can be viewed here.


by Courtney Quirin, Science Writer

Comments Jul 10, 2013