Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Wildcard of PhD Examination

In Australia, your PhD thesis is examined by a blind peer review process. This can produce mixed results, as we will hear in this story. 

Joanne Doyle is a PhD student at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) in Toowoomba, Australia. Joanne's research explores academic perspectives on the impact of higher education research. 

Prior to embarking on doctoral studies, Joanne was the Research Proposal and Project Manager for USQ’s Australian Digital Futures Institute. Joanne has a strong project management background and has worked across a range of sectors including mining, retail, service and education.
Without being too dramatic or self-pitying, it would be fair to say that I have endured more than my fair share of challenges during my PhD candidature.

Along the way, I lost two supervisors, was hospitalised three times, and was made redundant from my work role just prior to finalising a full draft of the thesis. But I had worked hard, and I truly believed that the spiritual principle of karma would ensure that I sailed through examination.

Unfortunately, this was not to be. For reasons outside my control, there were issues selecting examiners for my thesis, causing further disruption to my PhD journey and the process of examination. After spending three and a half years working towards submission, I found another delay to be almost unbearable. But not to worry. Encouraged by my faith in karma, I remained optimistic about the final stages of my doctoral journey.

Eventually I received my examination reports. To say they were polar opposites is no exaggeration. The first examiner judged my work to be “an exemplary thesis … one of the most outstanding pieces of doctoral research I have had pleasure to examine”. He further noted that “the thesis fulfils and then exceeds in most aspects standard requirements of doctoral enquiry”.

On the other hand, the second examiner criticised all aspects of the research, suggesting that the thesis did not demonstrate the skills expected at doctoral level.

The disparity of comments continued throughout the examination reports. The literature review was assessed as both “particularly impressive” (Examiner 1) and “superficial” (Examiner 2). My research design was deemed to be “well justified” (Examiner 1) and yet “a major flaw” (Examiner 2). The thesis was praised for evidencing “strong analytical and conceptual skills” (Examiner 1) and criticised for a lack of “balance and rigour” (Examiner 2). The candidate demonstrated an “ability to delve deep into research inquiry” (Examiner 1) to make an original contribution to knowledge that was high quality. The same candidate displayed limited understanding of the subject matter and was “misinformed” (Examiner 2).

And so I am left with major revisions.

Colleagues have told me that major revisions is a common outcome, and that students will often receive one positive review and one negative review. I understand it’s all part of the process of becoming an academic, and getting used to the system of peer-review and rejection that is so commonplace in seeking publication in prestigious academic journals. I am told it is necessary to have a “thick skin” to survive in this sector.

But I don’t want a life of harsh criticism. I don’t want to develop a discouraged and jaded personality. I am an early stage researcher – albeit with a few lines and some grey hairs – and I want my research to make a difference in the world. I aspire to contribute to the body of knowledge, and I need to believe in myself and the value of my research in order to achieve that. And yet, I am disillusioned by the system that assesses my research – where opinions can be so disparate – and I am annoyed that the perceptions of one individual can have such significant repercussions for another.

Perhaps I am a little more passionate about contemporary processes than others may be. After all, the focus of my doctoral research was exploring perceptions of impact (and I do appreciate the irony of my current predicament!) However, I am still reeling from such diametrically opposed feedback. I know one examiner was complimentary of my research, but I don’t think about him or her very much.

I focus on the second examiner.

I want to meet this person so I can put a face to the comments. Despite conjecture that young examiners are the harshest critics, I picture this person to be a grumpy older academic disgruntled by life. It helps me somewhat as I battle to synthesise the feedback.

It is really hard to read such scathing criticism of something you have nurtured and loved for over three years. In my moment of desperation, I turned to the Thesis Whisperer. I have followed the Thesis Whisperer throughout my PhD journey, and found solace in posts such as The Valley of Shit, and I’m Writing a Book No One Will Read. I typed “examination” into the search box, and was directed to Surviving A PhD Disaster which linked to What To Do When Your Thesis is Rejected by the Examiners. It was comforting to read that I was not alone in my predicament.

But it was the post 4 Things You Should Know About Choosing Examiners for your Thesis that really helped me. In this post, the Thesis Whisperer provides a succinct assessment of the examination grading process: “It’s not really a grade, but an indication of how much work needs to be done; from not very much to rather a lot”. I wish I had read this post earlier as it changed my perspective.

I re-read the examination reports, and the recommended revisions became bearable, even logical, improvements. I have committed to make the changes before the end of this year, guided once again by the Thesis Whisperer and the suggestions in Doing Your Amendments Without Losing Heart (or Your Mind).

It’s not easy to share examination feedback. However, writing this post has been cathartic for me. The act of articulating my anguish has helped me to accept my current dilemma. But, my reason for writing this post is far greater. I want to share my examination experience to help other students that tread this path after me, and to give back in some small way to the Thesis Whisperer blog, as an expression of my gratitude for being there when I have needed you most. But I must go now. I have an estimated four months of major revisions ahead of me!

Post-script: It took me three months to revise the thesis. Although I was despondent at the prospect of more work, I am now grateful for the feedback provided by the two examiners, and I have an increased respect for the peer-review process. In making changes to the thesis, I gained a better understanding of my research, and I was able to rationalise the harsh criticism that my thesis had received. I also developed skills in patience, perseverance and humility. The most valuable lessons are often learned during the hardest times. I couldn’t agree more.

Thanks Joanne! Do you have an examination story to tell? Love to hear about it in the comments.

Related posts

4 Things You Should Know About Choosing Examiners for your Thesis

Doing Your Amendments Without Losing Heart (or Your Mind)

Monday, October 29, 2018

How to Teach Kids Social Responsibility in a Connected World

Social responsibility is the idea that our actions affect others and that we should strive to impact individuals and society positively.
In today’s increasingly connected world, this sentiment rings truer than ever before. One post on social media can go viral, reach millions, and make a difference in the world—a difference that can be positive or negative.
For educators and parents, it’s crucial to teach kids the social responsibility that comes with being a global digital citizen.
Make a Positive Digital Footprint
Start by introducing the concept of a “digital footprint.” Explain that what you do on the Internet and social media today remains forever. It can be searched by colleges, employers, family members, and even your future children.
For this reason, it’s important to create a positive digital footprint. You can have older kids Google themselves and evaluate their digital footprint thus far. With kids of all ages, brainstorm ways to make a positive digital footprint. You can also discuss non-examples: What makes a negative digital footprint? What behaviors should be avoided online?
Conclude by reading about kids and teens who have used social media to advocate for positive social change. Discuss the different methods used to raise awareness and make positive change online: hashtags, petitions, emails, Tweets, etc.
Model Responsible Virtual Behaviors
The best way to learn responsible virtual behaviors is through practice. Model the right way to interact online for your students or children, then give them opportunities to practice.
A classroom, for instance, is a safe place for kids to experiment with blogging, vlogging, social media, Skype, and so on. Once your kids have learned the basics of online etiquette (also called Netiquette), you may want to connect with a class from another country.
You can use Skype Collaborations to connect with other teachers around the globe, take virtual field trips, listen to diverse guest speakers, and more. Once your class connects internationally, they can discuss global issues with their counterparts or collaborate on a positive project.
THINK Before You Post
Teach kids to THINK before they post:
T-Is it True?
H-Is it Helpful?
I- Is it Inspiring?
N- Is it Necessary?
K- Is it Kind?
If any of these questions can be answered with a “No,” then they shouldn’t make the post in question.
When teaching kids to THINK before posting, it’s important to also discuss cyber-bullying. Talk about the negative consequences of cyber-bullying. Explain that although it feels impersonal to hide behind the Internet, the bullying is very real for the victim, sometimes with tragic consequences.
Kids should not only avoid cyber-bullying themselves, but they should also speak up when they see it happening. Teach children to tell an adult if they see inappropriate online interactions. This is a great way to practice social responsibility and make a positive difference.
Adopt a Project
Find a global project for your class to adopt. Brainstorm ways to advance the cause via the Internet and social media. Have your students come up with a hashtag, send Tweets and petitions, or even create a campaign with viral videos or images.
If you aren’t sure where to start, check out Global Citizen, where you can find pre-written Tweets and emails for a wide variety of causes.
By finding a project that your kids genuinely care about and teaching them to get involved, you’ll inspire them to be global digital citizens well into the future.
In our connected world, each individual has a greater reach than previously imagined, so social responsibility has become increasingly important.
Teach children to be responsible digital citizens by discussing positive digital footprints, modeling “Netiquette” and THINKing before you post, and adopting a project advocating for positive social change.
By teaching kids social responsibility at a young age, you’re helping to create a brighter and more hopeful future.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

PhD Theses: Drawing Attention to the Often Overlooked Articles in Open Access Repositories

by Camilla Griffiths and Nancy Graham, Impact of Social Sciences:

Earlier this Open Access Week, university library staff throughout the UK celebrated #ThesisThursday, a day of focused attention on the less talked-about articles in open access repositories, PhD theses. Camilla Griffiths and Nancy Graham describe the work the LSE Library has led to digitise the theses of the School’s doctoral alumni, outlining the benefits of greater visibility, widespread indexing, and robust URLs, and also assuaging some of the more persistent fears around depositing theses in an open access repository, including implications for future publication and copyright concerns.
As part of Open Access Week 2018, a group of repository staff working in UK universities agreed to focus attention on PhD theses on Thursday 25 October, using the hashtag #ThesisThursday. Behind this was the impression that our PhD theses often play second fiddle to journal articles in the world of open access repositories. Why is that? And why the focus now?
The work required to produce a doctoral thesis is huge; most take years to complete, with multiple revisions. Back in the days of print, having passed their viva students would hand-type and submit a bound copy of their final thesis to the library. At that time, whilst it was possible for interested parties to consult this copy, this was only really a feasible option for those able to travel in person to the library, and so, in the majority of cases, theses would languish in the library archive, gathering dust, neither read nor utilised.
Today, LSE theses are submitted electronically and deposited into the open access repository, LSE Theses Online (LSETO). LSETO currently contains over 3,500 theses, spanning more than a century of LSE doctoral research (1905-2018). During the last academic year (2017-18), LSE theses were downloaded on 602,748 occasions – that’s over 50,000 downloads a month!

Of course, many LSE theses are still only available in print (or, in some cases, microfilm!) and one of our projects for the coming years will be to compile a coherent list of these and consider what can be done with them.
Electronic-only submission of research theses was introduced at LSE in 2011-12. At the same time it became mandatory for the final version submitted to the library to be included in LSETO. At present, 100% of records in LSETO include the full text and 98% of these are unrestricted.
Not only cheaper, quicker, and easier in terms of production and submission, having a thesis in electronic form allows it to be disseminated virtually instantaneously. This enables other researchers to benefit from the work, as well as helping to develop a positive online profile for students starting out in their academic careers. Furthermore, higher citation counts and greater visibility increase the potential for international and interdisciplinary collaboration for the author.
It’s not just about having it online either – in contrast to having a thesis on a personal website or social media platform (which may cease to exist over time), theses in repositories such as LSETO are preserved, often indexed elsewhere (for example by aggregators such as CORE and EThOS), have a stable URL (which can be shared and monitored), and consistently rank highly in search results. By being able to access the number of citations and downloads their thesis receives, each student has the opportunity to measure their thesis’ impact – a useful tool when it comes to job applications or promotion panels.
The road to open access has not always been easy. Whilst many of the initial concerns around making theses available were later shown not to be as problematic as initially thought, such as the worry that open access would lead to greater plagiarism, two issues continue to be of concern: copyright; and the fear that having a thesis openly online can jeopardise subsequent commercial publishing.
Regarding the latter of these issues, the current consensus suggests such fears are unfounded. In the majority of cases, the thesis is edited and reworked to such an extent that the original is not considered a threat to the commercial work, and research has shown many publishers will consider an OA thesis for submission (82%), and also for publication (54%).
Checking a thesis for copyright seems relatively straightforward but is often anything but. Not all third-party content requires permission, and some is covered by the “fair dealing” exception of copyright law. Other items such as images, maps, song lyrics, and even social media posts require permission to reproduce. What might be acceptable within a print thesis for examination purposes isn’t necessarily acceptable within an electronic thesis, and all of this is dependent on the date of creation.
Aside from concerns over third-party copyright, other theses simply cannot be made available owing to sections of content being of a sensitive nature or where individuals may be identified. Most institutions allow students to request an embargo period before their thesis is made openly available (at LSE it is currently one year; other universities allow two or three years), with longer embargoes considered if legitimate reasons exist.
In 2014, an LSE project, in collaboration with ProQuest, digitised approximately 2,000 theses. The School is also working with the British Library as part of a new project to digitise 700 theses currently held on microfilm. Once this is completed, the next step will be to digitise the remaining theses on our shelves. The process of digitisation is necessarily thorough: each and every thesis is checked for copyright and redacted if necessary; and authors are contacted, wherever possible, and asked to inform us if they do not wish their thesis to be made available. Only then can the metadata record be created, the file uploaded, and the thesis be made available.
Here at LSE we have a few notable theses available electronically. Among these is Labour MP Stella Creasy’s thesis on social exclusion, winner of the LSE’s Richard Titmuss Award (for the most outstanding thesis in the social policy department) and digitised as part of the 2014 ProQuest collaboration.
Whilst we won’t be “crashing the internet” as the University of Cambridge managed last year after making available Stephen Hawking’s 1966 doctoral thesis for the first time, we do have a few theses that would be great to get out there. Of these, Ralph Milliband’s 1957 thesis on economic thought in revolutionary France is definitely on our list – so Ed or David, if you’re reading this, please give us permission! As we can see from usage of our other online theses, the world is waiting.
Note: This article gives the views of the authors, and not the position of the LSE Impact Blog, nor of the London School of Economics. Please review our comments policy if you have any concerns on posting a comment below.
Featured image credit: 422737, via Pixabay (licensed under a CC0 1.0 license).
Camilla Griffiths is the Repository Manager in LSE Library, ensuring the smooth running of LSE Theses Online and LSE Research Online. She is also working on the implementation project of a new Current Research Information System for LSE.
Nancy Graham is Research Support Manager in LSE Library, overseeing the repository work alongside other research support areas such as bibliometrics, scholarly publishing and research data management.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Being in Nature is Good for Learning: Here's How to Get Kids Off Screens and Outside

by Tonia Gray, Western Sydney University, The Conversation:

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It takes effort and imagination, but the benefits are many. from

Contrary to the belief we Aussies are a nature-loving outdoor nation, research suggests we’re spending less and less time outdoors. This worrying trend is also becoming increasingly apparent in our educational settings.

I have devoted the majority of my teaching and academic career to examining the relationship of people and nature. In the last few decades, society has become estranged from the natural world, primarily due to urban densification and our love affair with technological devices (usually located in indoor built environments).

Contact with nature can enhance creativity, bolster mood, lower stress, improve mental acuity, well-being and productivity, cultivate social connectedness, and promote physical activity. It also has myriad educational benefits for teaching and learning.

Read more: Why a walk in the woods really does help your body and your soul

Outdoors and learning

The word “kindergarten” originated in the 1840s from the ideologies of German educator Friedrich Froebel and literally translates to “children garden”. Propelled by innate curiosity and wonder, a Froebelian approach to education is premised on the understanding students learn best when they undertake imaginative play and curious exploration.

Not only is outdoor play central to children’s enjoyment of childhood, it teaches critical life skills and enhances growth and development.

Contemporary research shows outdoor play-based learning can also help improve educational outcomes. A recent study found being outside stimulated learning and improved concentration and test scores.

Nature contact also plays a crucial role in brain development with one recent study finding cognitive development was promoted in association with outdoor green space, particularly with greenness at schools.
Contact with nature boosts brain development. from

Autonomy and freedom in the outdoors is both liberating and empowering for kids. Burning off excess energy outdoors makes children calmer and fosters pro-social behaviours.

Teaching and learning in natural environments encourages self-mastery through risk taking, physical fitness, resilience, self-regulation, and student-centred discovery. Imagination is also enhanced by free, unstructured play.

Read more: Play-based learning can set your child up for success at school and beyond

How to get kids outdoors more

Children need outdoor play, but we’re not giving them enough opportunity. Countries such as Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway spend up to half the school day outdoors (rain, hail or shine) exploring the real-world application of their classroom learning. Here’s what parents and teachers can do to get kids outside more.

Taking the classroom outside

Children learn better when they can experience learning, rather than hearing it read from a text book. A study in Chicago used brain scans to show students who took a hands-on approach to learning had experienced an activation in their sensory and motor-related parts of the brain. Later, their recall of concepts and information was shown to have greater clarity and accuracy.

Practical lessons outside will stick better in young brains than learning theory from a book. This may be why in 2017, the Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (ACARA) included outdoor learning in the national curriculum.

Options for teachers include taking the class outside to write poetry about nature, measuring the height of trees for maths classes, or de-stressing using mindfulness and breathing techniques while sitting quietly in the shade of a tree.

An upcoming initiative Outdoor Classroom Day is happening in schools across Australia on November 1. This is a day where teachers are encouraged to take their classes outside. Alternatively, parents can make a special effort to take their child to the local park, river or beach.

Less time on screens

Conversations with parents and teachers show they’re increasingly concerned about technology’s broader impact on their children, in both dramatic and subtle ways.

In many ways our hunger for technology has overridden our desire for direct human interaction. Screens compete directly with authentic channels of communication such as face-to-face interaction. To combat this, parents can assign one hour on and one hour off screens.

Parents are role models and so we also need to monitor our own time on screens and spend quality time with children detached from our digital devices.

The sad reality is technology can become a pseudo-parenting device, a form of pacifier to keep the kids busy. Instead, we can encourage our kids to engage in simple, unstructured play experiences.

These could include creating an outdoor scavenger hunt where they collect items from nature, building forts or dens incorporating inexpensive materials such as branches and old sheets or blankets, climbing trees, or laying on the grass and looking upwards into the sky to watch the cloud formations.

Other methods include making mud pies or sandcastles at the beach or in a sandbox; encouraging the collection of feathers, petals, leaves, stones, driftwood, twigs or sticks to make creative artworks on large sheets of paper; planting a garden with vegetable seedlings or flowers with your child (let them decide what will be planted); putting on a jacket and gumboots when it rains and jump in puddles together; or making an outdoor swing or billycart.

Nature offers a never-ending playground of possibilities with all the resources and facilities needed. If stuck, search on the web for wild play or nature play groups nearby as they are growing in popularity and number. But most importantly, reinforce the message that getting wet, having dirt stains on their clothes and getting their hair messy is good and adds to the fun.The Conversation

Tonia Gray, Associate Professor, Centre for Educational Research, Western Sydney University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Five Benefits of a Writing ‘System’

by Chris Smith, on The Research Whisperer:

Chris Smith is co-founder of Prolifiko and interested in using behavioural science, neuroscience and positive persuasive technology to unlock human potential.
He’s also a consultant to academic publishers and higher education advising on marketing and digital strategy, design thinking and the future of edtech.
Chris is a former founder of Swarm, a content and digital marketing agency, and a former lecturer in social psychology, continental philosophy and aesthetics.
Prolifiko tweets from @beprolifiko.

Working hands (photo by madamepsychosis on flickr) |
Working hands (photo by madamepsychosis on flickr)
In July, I wrote about Prolifiko’s survey of scholarly writing practice, and our early objectives for that study. We teamed up with two academics and a data insight expert to design a large-scale study into academic writing practice.
So far, the study has gathered responses from 510 academics from over 40 countries and the interim findings build an intriguing picture of how academics write.
The data reveals the highs and lows of the scholarly writing process across a career: when satisfaction (and dissatisfaction) is at its highest, where the blocks come and when external pressure is experienced most acutely.
So far, the role of writing systems seems key.
According to the interim findings, the academics who have developed some kind of ‘system’ to help them write and publish seem far happier and more productive than those who have not. But what is it about having a ‘system’ that helps you get down to work and keep publishing – and how can you develop one of your own?

Simple systems

For us, a ‘system’ is the combination of tactics and methods that a writer typically uses to get their writing done.
These systems are always very personal and often developed over years of trial and error – they can be formal or informal, they can be complicated or very simple. Some writers just do one thing that helps them write.
We found that the academics who were most at ease with their writing processes (and the least stressed out in general) used one or more of these tactics and had formed them into highly personal ‘systems’ that they used to write.
Here are some of our interim results, expressed as benefits that you can enjoy from developing your own writing system:
  1. You’ll have a more productive, varied output
The data shows academics who are certain of their writing system produce double the number of written publications across a lifetime than the average scholar, and over three times as many as academics who are uncertain of their system. They’re more likely to write a wider range of publications, too.
Academics who struggle to find a system that works – or haven’t really thought about the topic – produce two thirds fewer publications than the average scholar over a lifetime.
  1. Your satisfaction will increase
Our interim findings show that academics with a writing system are also far more likely to be highly satisfied with their writing process overall.
Those who aren’t sure what helps them write or have tried a few things but haven’t discovered anything that’s really stuck are the least satisfied – by a large margin. People who haven’t thought about the issue also reported feeling high levels of dissatisfaction.
  1. Your time management will improve
Those who struggle to find a writing system or routine are also the most likely to express a strong desire to have more time for writing. Those who were more certain seemed happy with the time they had.
This may suggest that having some kind of system assists academics to manage their time better and leaves them with about the right amount of time to get the work done.
  1. You’ll cope with barriers better
While academics who have a writing system are still plagued by daily distractions, interruptions and management responsibilities, they’re better able to cope with their blockers and barriers.
The academics who struggle the most with what we might call ‘psychological’ barriers to writing (like procrastination and feelings of being overwhelmed) are also the people who are least likely to have developed any kind of system.
  1. You’ll feel under less pressure
Our research finds a strong correlation between the people with a writing system of some kind and those who report feeling the least pressure to write and publish, either external or internal pressure.
Pressure to publish, and especially pressure that comes externally from institutional targets and management, is strongly linked to high levels of dissatisfaction. When you have a system of some kind, you appear better able to cope.

Finding your system

These are interim findings but they point to systems and processes being key to scholarly productivity, satisfaction and career success. They also indicate some clear gaps in the academic support infrastructure, particularly for early career researchers.
What’s clear from our own work into writing process and productivity is that there’s no silver bullet. Every academic writer needs to find a system and process that works for them. From our experience, there are a few steps every writer can take to start to find a process that works for them.

Be your own best EDITOR

  • Experiment: Test and experiment with as many tactics as you can.
  • Discard: Never become wedded to any specific system. If it doesn’t work, kill it!
  • Iterate: Combine different tactics and methods. Keep calibrating them until they work.
  • Track: Make a simple note of which of these tactics worked and which didn’t.
  • Optimise: Learn from experimentation and refine further.
  • Reflect: What aspects of your practice work well, and what can you do better next time?
Our short survey is still open as we’d like to grow our dataset further. Tell us what works for you. We’ll keep you updated on the results! Ultimately, our aim is to create a data-visualisation map of scholarly writing practice across a career.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Meet Berea College, the Innovative College That Charges No Tuition and Gives Students a Chance to Graduate Debt-Free

by Josh Jones, Open Culture:

“The looming student loan default crisis is worse than we thought,” writes Professor of Economics Judith Scott-Clayton at Brookings. I’ll leave it to you to parse the report, but to sum up… it looks bad. Subprime mortgage crisis bad. Maybe… there’s another way? Working models of fully subsidized higher ed systems in other countries—like fully subsidized healthcare systems—strongly suggest as much. Some high-end programs in the U.S., like NYU’s newly free medical school, have taken an early lead, hoping to solve the problem of doctor shortages.
But there’s an earlier, humbler, more progressive model of free college in the States, Kentucky’s little-known Berea College, founded in 1855 by an abolitionist Presbyterian minister John Gregg Fee as the first integrated, co-educational college in the American South. “It has not charged students tuition since 1892,” Adam Harris reports at The Atlantic. “Every student on campus works, and its labor program is like work-study on steroids. The work includes everyday tasks such as janitorial services, but older students are often assigned jobs aligned to their volunteer programs.”

Rather than working to pay off tuition, “students receive a physical check for their labor that can go toward housing and living expenses.” Nearly half of the school’s graduates leave with no debt, with the remaining carrying an average of less than $7,000 from room and board expenses. Compare that to a national average of $37,172 in loan debt per student for the class of 2016. How does Berea do it? It funds tuition with its large endowment of 1.2 billion dollars.
Through a perverse historical irony, as Harris describes, the same racist hatred that ran Berea’s founder out of town in 1859, and forced the school to segregate in 1904, made certain that its funding model would sustain it far into its (re)integrated future. After Kentucky’s passage of the so-called “Day Law,” barring black students from attending, money began to pour in.
The prospect of educating poor white people from Appalachia for no tuition was something that the community could get behind. And nearly 100 years ago, on October 20, 1920, the board made sure that the college would be able to do so for a long time. According to Jeff Amburgey, the school’s chief financial officer, “The board essentially said, for Berea to sustain its funding model,” any unrestricted bequests—essentially money that someone leaves the institution after they have passed away, that is not tagged for a specific purpose—could not be spent right away. Instead, he says, the money was expected to be treated as part of the endowment, and only the return on that investment could be spent.
Berea could not, as some other schools do, spend millions on football stadiums instead of investing in its students. In the 50s, the school reintegrated, but the process was very slow, as it was everywhere in the country. “The community was gone,” says Berea history professor Alicestyne Turley, referring to the Reconstruction-era community that had a student body mix of 50-50 black and white students.
The school had to relearn its founding principles, as expressed in its founder's chosen motto, from the Book of Acts: “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.” Now most of the enrollees, low-income white and black students mostly from Appalachia, qualify for Pell grants. 10 percent of the budget comes from charitable gifts. But the school pays the bulk of the tuition, $39,400 per student, from its endowment.
Is this sustainable? Time will tell. Though a 1937 promotional film, above, from the college’s segregated past decries “the false glitter of easy prosperity,” its current president tells Harris “we’re not the kind of institution that holds the world of finance in disdain. We are dependent on it.” A stock market crash could bankrupt Berea, and no bailouts would be forthcoming. But for now, the college thrives, with very impressive ranking numbers in the U.S. News Best Colleges report (it comes in a #4 in Best Undergraduate Teaching and #3 in Most Innovative Schools).
The school hosts bell hooks as a professor in residence and boasts as an alumnus Carter G. Woodson, the “father of black history,” with a center named for him whose mission is “to assert the kinship of all people and provide interracial education with a particular emphasis on understanding and equality among blacks and whites as a foundation for building community among all peoples of the earth.”
Maybe if there were a way to, say, fund Berea, and colleges and universities nationwide, through some kind of, say, taxation on, say, the most profitable companies on the planet, or some such … just imagine ...

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Thesis to Book: Images

Have you thought about reproducing images in your publications? Dr Alice Eden has written posts about the literary journey in her post ‘Thesis to Book, however another important part of writing art historical publications is the inclusion of images. When you come to publish, this can be a whole new area to discover…
As per my previous blog series, I am writing an art historical publication for Routledge. This will include approximately 60 black and white images and 8 colour plates. Art historians regularly apply for funding for the inclusion of such images in their work and in my case, for a recent funding application, I needed to develop a list of images with potential costs.
A friend said to me, ‘but surely that’s easy – it’s all the ones you already listed in your thesis?’ Looking back at the illustrations in my thesis, many were reproduced from secondary books or catalogues. For the purposes of the thesis, a caption which cited the publication as the source of the image was sufficient. However, for a book publication, it is necessary to look at these images and seek the appropriate permissions or licences to reproduce them from original sources. Don’t be deceived by the idea that this is a quick process!

Gather Information as Early as Possible:

It would be worth contacting your PhD supervisor, peers or departmental contacts for initial guidance. There are also likely to be notes in a departmental handbook which covered referencing and images for submission of written work during your PhD. You will also be in touch with art galleries and curators who can advise on gaining rights to use their images. I have found art galleries have been very helpful, not only advising on potential costs but also processes and legal aspects concerning image reproduction and licensing.
Another avenue you may explore is meeting with descendants of artists’ or owners of artworks in private collections, as I have done. On these occasions you can view artworks that families own and possibly ask permission to photograph them. I have also visited auction houses (e.g. Christie’s and Sotheby’s) and viewed works which are being auctioned in upcoming sales. You can offer to provide information for their catalogue entries from your research.

When you Cannot Trace an Image

For the artists I have researched there are many artworks which were exhibited at the Royal Academy and other major galleries at the time they were created but their location remains unknown today. Instead of listing details for provenance (history of ownership) they may be described in books or catalogues as ‘untraced’. One option would be to contact academic libraries, like the British Newspaper Archive or the V&A National Art Library regarding reproducing images of such artworks from contemporary journals.

Your Image Wish List

I have published on several occasions and sought rights to reproduce images. However, every publication has been different and in the case of my forthcoming book there have been specific factors to consider:
  • I am writing on three artists working from 1880s to 1930s and will aim to include a good representation of their works.
  • The main case studies were inspired by the Pre-Raphaelite painters (the PRB was formed in 1848). Therefore, works by some of these painters from the 1840s have appeared on my wish list.
  • The artists were also inspired by Old Masters paintings – re-creating old motifs, reworking spiritual symbols with modern meanings. Thus, some older works from the 1500s have gone into the list to be sourced and costed.
  • The artists needed contextualising with their peers in the period 1880-1930 to support parts of my argument to do with their central place in British art and culture. So I have had to think, what other paintings could I include and can I locate these images to reproduce? This section of the list started very lengthy and began to shorten as I thought about which precise images would work well with those selected for ’my’ three artists and how many I could include.
  • I also considered what other images I might include to provide evidence of associated visual cultures and tell a bigger story? In your publications, you could consider including social and historical documents or letters from the archives.


Balancing the costs of various images will also be a factor in your selections. Some art galleries have allowed me to reproduce images for free for my academic publication whilst others have quoted varying costs. For your own publications it is well worth gathering all this information as soon as you can so that you can re-evaluate and consider a well-balanced list for your publication. There is a lot to think about and various avenues for researching, locating and sourcing images for reproduction.

I would love to hear your stories of experiences sourcing images, visiting private collections or the auction houses? How did you choose the images to be included? What stayed in, what got left out and why? Tweet us at @ResearchEx, email us at, or leave a comment below.

Alice Eden is an Early Career academic and Associate Tutor in the History of Art department, University of Warwick. Her primary interests are modern British cultural history, spiritualities and feminisms, with expertise in Victorian and Edwardian art history. She currently works in educational administration and is writing a book based on her PhD thesis (see future posts!). Alice can be contacted via email and followed on twitter at @Alice_Eden4.