Sunday, 6 November 2011

Monday Pop Quiz!

Sorry to spring this on you, but I wanted to make sure that you have all been keeping up with the material. This little quiz will help me see how you're doing, and to identify any concepts that are particularly problematic for the class, so I can be sure to focus on those in my lectures in the coming weeks.

Yes, I know this quiz is not on the syllabus. It is a so-called pop quiz. I did put on the syllabus that I would give you some of these throughout the term; I just didn't say when. That's the whole point of them. The fact that this is the first one was not intended to lull you into a false sense of comfort that there wouldn't be any, but if it had that effect, I must say I'm not too ripped up about it.

And no, I don't care if you do better on quizzes if you listen to music, you can't have your ear buds in during the quiz.

The Quiz

Let's say that you happen to read a journal article that was published > 1 year ago and you see that your own (quite old) publications are cited. But: you don't like how your published work is cited in this article -- the authors didn't mis-cite you in any egregiously wrong or unethical way, but you nevertheless don't like how they did it. For example, maybe you feel that they put too much emphasis on some things that we know now that we didn't know >20 years ago when you published your cited paper(s). Or maybe you don't like how they wrote that their results might be in conflict with some results in one part of your old work. What do you do? Do you:

(a) Make an unhappy huffing sound, shrug your shoulders, and forget about it. Maybe you will mention it to the authors if you see them at a conference, but otherwise, it's not a big deal.

(b) Write a brief but polite e-mail to the primary authors, explaining your discontent and then waiting to see how they respond.

(c) Write a formal comment and send it to the authors and ask if they'd be interested in writing a reply, perhaps for publication in the journal in question.

(d) Write a formal comment and send it to the editors of the journal and let them deal with contacting the authors to see about a possible reply, perhaps for publication in the journal in question.

(e) Fire off an angry e-mail to the editor of the journal, insulting the integrity of the editor and the journal as a whole for publishing a paper that contains this unjustified attack on you and your work. Be sure to include lots of dramatic adjectives that show -- unambiguously -- just how shocked you are that this paper was published in a journal you used to respect. 

Time's up. Put your pencils down and pass your quiz forms to front.

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