Peer Review Revealed: Inside Higher Ed discussed Michèle Lamont’s new book How Professors Think: Inside the Curious World of Academic Judgement. In the research for the book, Lamont sat in on multiple peer review panels and interviewed people making decisions. Her findings: that reviewers reward proposals that reminds them of their latest weekend vacation, dislike proposals that doesn’t speak to their own work, form alliances with other reviewers, read moral judgements into statements of purpose, etc. But in the end, Lamont seems to conclude, it’s the worst system except for every other kind.
Distant Parents: As a lot of you probably know, Material World has fabulous extended posts/photo essays presenting the first results of recent ethnographic research. The latest is by Daniel Miller at UCL who discusses his research of tele-parenting of Filipina parents who work in domestic service abroad. It looks like a great project on intimacy, transnationalism, gender and labor.
Thanks for Your Time (But No Thanks?): NYU Historian Jonathan Zimmerman unveiled his plan in the Christian Science Monitor to save daily newspapers in the U.S. Have academics write them…for free. Zimmerman proposes that such a plan could go hand in hand with universities rewarding writing for the broader public in promotion decisions. Of course, Zimmerman doesn’t discuss what the difference would be between academic news articles that the no one may read and current publications that no one reads.
Changes Coming? The Harvard Crimson reports on Harvard’s plans to ramp up a program for one-year teaching fellowships for young scholars in order to deal with the shortage of faculty and funds in the economic downturn. Many tenured faculty at Harvard worry that the administration is using the university’s financial hardship as a excuse to undermine the tenure process. Indeed.
Generational Lives of Questions: Tad McIlwraith at Fieldnotes commented on some of the reactions of his students in Intro to Anthro and Intro to Religion classes. Among some of the very interesting insights are that students want to hear about grand theories again, and McIlwraith questions if this is the Jared Diamond-ization of pop science culture.
Finally, someone to explain the financial meltdown. The Minnesota Star interviewed Karen Z. Ho on her ethnographic research on New York investment bankers. Ho explains to the interviewer how bankers’ conceptualizations of risk and risk management lead them to make rather irresponsible decisions.
Investment bankers are structured toward the next bonus. They’re compensated on how many deals they can push through, not on the quality of the deals or long-term strategy. Investment bankers have tons of job insecurity; they are a total revolving door. But what’s interesting is that because of their fairly elite biographies and kind of privileged networks they move in, as well as their lavish compensation, the way they experience downsizing is very different from that of the average worker.
A New Site for Archaeologists: A new social-networking site just for archaeologists has been launched, and in its first month gathered 250 participants.