oxford bibliographies online

A new resource for those wanting a quick introduction to different fields of sociology: Oxford Bibliographies Online. The sociology one, edited by Jeff Manza, is now online. These are basically annotated bibliographies of areas of the field. You could read this as shameless self-promotion, as I did one of the entries! But I think folks — particularly graduate students or those who want a quick introduction to a field — will find it useful. It doesn’t replace the Annual Review. But it’s a very handy resource.

tales of irb

A friend of mine e-mailed to tell me about a problem she is currently having with her IRB. She’s involved with a longitudinal survey of a disadvantaged population. They are going to be collecting a new round of data. Her university’s IRB is saying that an Adverse Event form needs to be filed for each person that has died between the previous round of data collection and the current round.

If you were doing a medical intervention study on a population, then Adverse Event forms are used to keep track of the possibility that maybe your intervention is killing people. To my knowledge, there has never been a recorded instance of somebody dying as a result of answering survey questions, although metaphorical dying of boredom is not infrequent. (Incidentally, once upon a time in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, I documented fairly carefully that, net of a large battery of controls that would have satisfied the causal-pushovers of a bygone era, people who refused to participate in the WLS were more likely to die than people who did not. A bonus question on one of my research methods exams was to offer three possible explanations.)

Has anyone else heard of survey researchers being asked to do this?

+1 credits

Grumpy backwards people may still be claiming that videogames are not art, but they behave like many other art worlds. From an IGN news article on videogames [HT: my G+ stream]:

“There’s a tendency among the press to attribute the creation of a game to a single person,” says Warren Spector, creator of Thief and Deus Ex.”

“See what you just did there?” Spector, the creator of Deus Ex 2, did not add. “And there again! Stop it!”

dressing down

Former Harvard president Larry Summers, in reference to the interaction immortalized in The Social Network (via Gawker):

[O]ne of the things you learn as a college president is that if an undergraduate is wearing a tie and jacket on Thursday afternoon at 3 o clock, there are two possibilities. One is that they are looking for a job and have an interview; the other is that they are an asshole. This was the latter case.

speaking of misconduct

In a case in which the other shoe took a very long time to drop, Marc Hauser, the Harvard psychology professor renowned for his work on moral judgment, apparently has resigned after a protracted dispute regarding “scientific misconduct” that included retraction or post-publication-revision of three papers because of data problems.

Q: Is any schadenfreude sweeter for the mainstream sociologist than evolutionary psychology schadenfreude? (A: Economist schadenfreude. But just barely.)

see no evil, hear no evil, especially if that evil is plagiarism

Time-old professorial question: “Is it worth it to pursue students who cheat?” Here is the conclusion of a business school professor who caught a fifth of his class cheating: hell, no. In addition to being an incredible timesuck, he claims it cost him money:

Instead of the usual evaluations that were in the region of 6.0 to 6.5 out of seven, this time my ratings went down by almost a point: 5.3 out of 7.0. Instead of being a teacher in the upper percentiles, I was now below average.

The Dean’s office and my chair “expressed their appreciation” for me chasing such cases (in December), but six months later, when I received my annual evaluation, my yearly salary increase was the lowest ever, and significantly lower than inflation, as my “teaching evaluations took a hit this year”.

Granted, it sounds like he felt more comfortable pursuing plagiarists in the first place after he was awarded tenure, and probably if there is something that one is averse to doing because one is concerned about its implications for tenure, it shouldn’t be completely surprising that doing it afterward might have salary implications. Still pretty dispiriting.

(None of which is me saying one shouldn’t pursue cheaters. I do think if one starts thinking about it strictly in cost-benefit terms, one never will. Which is why it is a good thing many academics take pride in having an idealist or irrationalist streak.)

the continued anthropomorphization of markets

From Politico:

“We’ve said for some time now, as have most, that we need to do on the order of $4 trillion of deficit reduction over the next 10, 12 years. We would like to get that done now,” Lew said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Still, he indicated the financial markets would accept something smaller, if negotiators aren’t able to secure a larger package.

“If that can’t happen, if there’s not a willingness to come together… I think that the markets will understand moving as far as we can,” Lew said. “What would be hard to explain is doing nothing.”