Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thoughts on Reading, Writing and Researching

Thoughts on Reading, Writing and Researching

I think there does need to be a balance between the "publish or perish vibe" my classmate and this article (Publish or Perish? Re-Imagining the University Press) describe and having "high but realistic aims" as described by another classmate. My own motivations for formats to publish are somewhere in between and somewhat simplistic or naive. I am often just happy enough and feel I have succeeded in making progress in learning of my discipline just to have the time and inclination to write down and organize my own thoughts in my own chosen way whether that should earn value or exceed requirements among any community is often above and beyond my intrinsic needs.

A recent CBC Ideas podcast by Frank Faulk discussed the importance of internalized codes of moral certainty which are exceedingly difficult to adapt to situational contexts and may even be genetic in their patterns of cognitive expression. This might explain cultural in group versus out group aspects impacting on choices of (or lack of) formats of publication where larger market monopolies and returns on investment may have turned against constructive intellectual debate.

While academics often appear to defend their theses with excessive statistical data which obviously requires greater investment in review they often isolate those readers who should play a larger role in their primary audience which appears to be lost due to uber-competitiveness to be published. Namely their undergraduate and graduate students should provide an audience eager to learn from their publications. However many humanities disciplines have lost prominence and popularity perhaps because they no longer provide relevant thoughtful debate or communicate directly enough to attract higher rates of enrollment and profit-earning tuitions.

As an English Literature undergraduate I was taught to analyze and give significance to written patterns and symbols of communication to thereby possess an ability to identify values and recognize the vitality of human culture embedded in contexts of written English language and present my results in as vital and interesting a forum as possible. I try to avoid controversy and I make it as far as my own dry blog frequently but even in the beginning of that I was fearful of sharing my own thoughts with a sea of strangers. I have gained confidence in this area over time.

Of course English Literature studies as a base are possibly the most heavily derided and misunderstood humanities subject possible. There is a certain cultural aspect of perceived redundancy and I have noticed if most people read anything at all anymore it is as likely to be a TV Guide or some form of pulp fiction let alone an academic paper or a book of non-fiction or history. Let alone write anything at all other than brief emails or SMS texts. That as many as 50%of my fellow Canadians may be functionally illiterate suggests more of them might be studying English Literature or something (anything) to find a reason to read.

For example, plagiarism appears the norm rather than the exception in some studies a percentage of up to 60% of falsified data and seemingly progressively increasing in frequency at the graduate and doctoral levels (Price & Price:2005). Without exemplary leaders and managers these learners are failing their own potential and they bring being taught to think independently into question rather seem to be refining those skills which lead them to being merely opportunistic. As is often said of children perhaps we get the students we deserve. How much of a link is there between functional illiteracy and plagiarism?

Does such a trend indicate how far research academia has insulated itself from the common interests of our world's intrinsic leadership and managerial needs even at the most basic levels? Are we forgetting that teaching people to read, write and research assists in the self-awareness of developing one's own self-image and embodiment or identification with one's own culture? If so, are we collectively witnessing a lost determinant search for the self in this wilderness of plagiarism? It appears obvious nearly half of all academics are not really reading (even) their own students' works.

Price, J. & Price, R. (2005) " Finding the true incidence rate of plagiarism," International Education Journal, 6 (4), 421-429.
[Accessed: March 25, 2010]

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