An international declaration by more than 150 leading scientists and 75 scientific organisations is demanding a rethink of the role ‘journal impact factor’ plays in the evaluation of research.
This ranking reflects the average number of times a journal’s papers are referenced or cited by other researchers during the preceding two years. Many institutions and funding bodies rate the success of a scientist based on the number of times they publish in a highly ranked journal.
But signatories to the declaration say the system is flawed because its use of an average, rather than median number of citations per journal, means highly cited papers can artificially lift a journal’s rankings.
…or how business schools stole design from designers and how John Maeda might be trying to steal it back.
STEM is a staggeringly successful meme. My employer re-sorted whole faculties, almost the half the university, to buy in to it (and in the process cleaved design from engineering, taking design out of STEM).
Concurrent with the STEM push, Design Thinking (which almost requires a tm) has risen, first in the design consultancies, and rapidly in business schools. This is to the consternation of designers who are pretty sure they’ve been thinking for a while now. Design Thinking has been rapidly assimilated into the business school canon as something to be taught in a twelve credit point unit instead of something that’s part of a whole system of professional practice. The power of the business schools has meant that design has found its moment in the sun fleeting. Outside of universities, Design Thinking increasingly means using visual methods and iteration to develop new business models. There’s very little room for designers in Design Thinking.
Enter STEAM. In STEM, science, technology, engineering and mathematics all sit at a big table together. There’s room for physics and chemistry to sit next to civil engineering, computer science and statistics. And now with STEAM, everyone can shove down and make room for Art.
Maeda’s argument is that STEM is really good at inventing new things, but it’s bad at bridging that last mile that connects new things to new ways to use them. He says that the people who do that bridging are artists. Which is news to designers as they always thought that making things for people to use was their main point of differentiation from artists.
I’m never clear if Maeda really does mean Art when he talks about the ‘A’ in STEAM. On the STEM-to-STEAM website the “A” is presented as Art/Design. But in his latest Wired piece Maeda focusses on Art. It’s not the Art that I’m familiar with; it sounds closer to — it seems to be — design. I guess that pesky D makes for a bad acronym. Or maybe it’s a way to move away from design-as-in-Design-Thinking?
In any case, design once more finds itself on the sidelines. The business schools have taken away design’s ball and Maeda’s piggybacking an A into STEM has changed the rules. I’m not sure what’s supposed to happen next.
Lately I’ve been doing some eye-tracking research in Museums and other GLAM spaces, mostly looking at wayfinding and moving towards asking new questions about engagement.
But the story starts a bit earlier than last week.
Almost two years ago the Lab acquired a set of Tobii eye-tracking glasses. How we did that is a not-very-interesting story in itself. Let’s just say that they were staggeringly expensive and we couldn’t have bought them without the support of all sorts of people in the School and the old Faculty.
We bought the glasses to do wayfinding research in Airports. Andrew Cave is our PhD researcher on that particular aspect of the bigger Airports project and he’s making awesome progress. Wayfinding research has normally tried to figure out what people are looking at, and what they’re doing, after the fact by having them draw maps or paths. Sometimes wayfinding researchers ask people to narrate what they’re doing as they do it.
What we can do with the glasses is find out more about what people are looking at in the moments before they make choices about where to go and what they look at as they’re moving. It’s fascinating.
One of the most interesting things is being able to see what people don’t look at.
We’re also doing another airports-related project with the glasses which is about how security staff who use x-ray scanners to look at bags look at bags. There’s been a lot of research done about expertise and specifically visual expertise. The Tobii glasses give us a new way to ask questions about expertise in visual tasks.
What I’ve been doing is an adaptation of Andrew Cave’s project, shifting the wayfinding context from airports to museums. The data-making technique is the same, we put the glasses on volunteers and ask them to use the space as they normally would (while being shadowed by someone — we make no claims about the naturalness of this method!). The analysis is, at this early stage, far less sophisticated than Andrew’s multi-layered approach.
The analysis is done by recording where people go and linking that to what they say and what they look at. The results, so far, are commercial-in-confidence but align with what people have said about how people use museums. What’s new is the granularity of what we’ve found out. With this new detail about what’s happening as people move through museums, we hope to be able to, slowly, make changes in how museums and museum exhibits are planned, designed and understood.
It’s fun (ie, terrifying) to read this critique of Silicon Valley startup culture as if it was about academia.
Well-intentioned darlings south of Market wax poetic on distributed teams, office perks, work/life balance, passion, “shipping”, “iteration,” “freedom”. A world of startup privilege hides blithely unexamined underneath an insipid, self-reinforcing banner of meritocracy and funding. An economic and class-based revolt of programmers against traditional power structures within organizations manifests itself as an (ostensively) radical re-imagining of work life. But really, you should meet the new boss. Hint: he’s the same as the old boss.
– p3, Design Futuring, Tony Fry
The fabulous Pat Thomson wrote a post a while back about Noel Gough’s metaphor of research as detection.
All of Pat’s excellent examples are literary, but all of the detectives that I remember are from TV.
I’d like to be Colombo. Seemingly obsessed by trivialities but actually paying attention to the details that matter.
Also, I could use a Peugeot 403 convertible.
An interesting post today at the Research Whisperer about culling grant applications to improve the quality of submissions.