Chief Admin


Blogs: 158
Pages: 1
Memos: 112
Invitations: 1
Location: Kyoto and Auckland
Work interests: research, editing, science communication
Affiliation/website: National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka
Preferred contact method: Any
Preferred contact language(s): English, German
Contact: email = researchcooperative-at-gmail-dot-com
Favourite publications: Various, and especially the open access versions of older journals with effective review systems

Founding Member

Work: ethnobotany, prehistory, museum curation
Affiliations: 1996-present: National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka. 1995: Freelance editor, Kyoto. 1994: JSPS Research Visitor, Kyoto University, Kyoto. 1993: Research Visitor, Australian National University, Canberra. 1991: Visiting Researcher, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka.1990: STA Fellow, National Institute for Ornamental Plants, Vegetables, and Tea (NIVOT), Ano, Japan
Contact: National Museum of Ethnology, Senri Expo Park, Suita City, Osaka, Japan 565-8511
Biographical: Established the Research Cooperative in 2001
Favourite Publications: Various

Category: Collaboration

An open letter to the Ronin Institute - is collaboration possible?

Copy of an open letter to the Ronin Institute (19th December 2021)

To whom it may concern,

I am a New Zealander working at the National Museum of Ethnology in Japan. This is where I settled in 1996 after a few years of wandering as a post-doc and self-employed scholar. My experiences of working in Japan led me to create the Research Cooperative in 2001, and the network now has approx. 8,000 members who are largely silent and/or inactive. This is partly because I cannot engage full-time with Co-op members while also working full-time for my museum and my own research. See:

The Research Cooperative needs collaboration with like-minded organisations and individuals!

My goal is to make the network self-sustaining as I believe the Research Cooperative will always be needed and useful, if it can achieve the potential I see in it. By self-sustaining a mean in terms of both development of the network and financially. 

If the network can become more active, then it might attract sponsorships and advertising revenue, or might be of sufficient value to members to attract subscription payments for specific extra services. For example, professional editing or translation companies might be willing to offer discounts to subscribing members.

The Research Cooperative is a network where novices and professionals involved in all aspects of science communication can gather for mutual benefit.

Is collaboration between Ronin Institute and the Research Cooperative possible? At a minimum this could be a matter of cross-linking and cross-promotion.

Best regards, Peter

Codes of Conduct and Research Ethics

By Research Cooperative, 2021-04-08

Codes of conduct, research ethics and integrity... there are many ways to label the subject, but the overall goal is to make science a positive approach to understanding the world and guiding human activities. Science and knowledge can be powerful, anything that is powerful can do much that is good, and much that is not, however "good" is defined.

The actual details that need to be considered by any individual person or organisation depend on context: who is doing the work, who else is involved, the topic of study, the place of study, the methods used, what kind of information is generated, how information is communicated, the ways in which information might be used, intended purposes and possible unintended consequences, and who or what will benefit, or might benefit, directly or indirectly, when, and where.

In this blog post I will gradually add links to a range of websites where codes of conduct and research ethics are discussed or provided. Seeing many different examples may help members of the Research Cooperative consider what is best practice in their own areas of activity, as researchers, students, editors, translators and so on. Codes of conduct are often developed by professional societies, academic societies, institutions. Some may be very broad in scope, others may be designed for specific disciplines or even for specific methods used within a discipline.

If you would like to discuss these matters with other members of our network, please see our topic focus group for Research Ethics and Integrity

Here is an example with very broad scope, published by ALLEA (European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities), which represents more than 50 academies in over 40 EU and non-EU countries. ALLEA aims to promote science as a global public good, and facilitate scientific collaboration across borders and disciplines: The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity  

The Code was published in English on 24th March 2017, and was translated into all official EU languages. All versions can be accessed through the link above.

The Research Cooperative and Covid 19

By Research Cooperative, 2020-06-23

I'm concerned that, globally, not enough efforts have been made to let most people know what viruses are and how we can protect ourselves and our communities from Covid 19 and economic damage -- now and in the future. Such efforts are just as important as collecting and providing the information on how and where the pandemic is expanding or retreating.

Despite all sincere efforts, perfectly accurate and complete information cannot be expected. Presenting the information we do have is done very well here:

A good public-health service and the economy are not either/or options. We need both: one supports the other.

It also helps to know how, why and where disinformation is created. UNESCO has published a report on this very recently, with the following cover note:

" Access to reliable and accurate information is critical at the best of times, but during a crisis such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it can be a matter of life and death ".



Support for composing service requests?

By Research Cooperative, 2018-07-06

A common problem that many researchers face when working in a second language is uncertainty about how to write a service request (see "Offers & Requests" in main menu) in the second language. 

Authors may be uncomfortable making a request for help public, and not being sure of how to express the request is likely increase the discomfort. This leads to a natural resistance to make public requests for help.

This is why it is important for editors and translators to make public offers of help, so that authors can find them easily and then contact them using our "private note" messaging system. After login, each member can find the "private note" tab under their own username in the main menu.

It may also be useful for our network to provide individuals support in composing requests for help. I can offer such support as Administrator, but only to a limited extent as I have a full-time research job that needs most of my time.

What our network really needs is a volunteer support team who can help authors compose requests for help for either the public "Offers & Requests" or for private notes that can be sent to specific editors or translators in our network (or other service providers in the network - proofreaderes, illustrators, etc.)

If you would like be part of such a volunteer support team, please let me know!

Keep lots of copies for information safe-keeping

By Research Cooperative, 2017-06-10
Keep lots of copies for information safe-keeping

The title here is an expansion of the catch phrase of a Stanford University team that developed a system (program) for long-term preservation of digital content: LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) .

The program description begins:

'The LOCKSS Program is an open-source, library-led digital preservation system built on the principle that “lots of copies keep stuff safe.” The LOCKSS system is the first and only mechanism to apply the traditional purchase-and-own library model to electronic materials. The LOCKSS system allows librarians at each institution to take custody of and preserve access to the e-content to which they subscribe, restoring the print purchase model with which librarians are familiar. ...' (Internet 10th June 2017,

This program has supported a range of public and private archiving efforts, with a particular emphasis on helping libraries maintain access to digital content that they have purchased. What happens when an online journal dies and the website disappears? If libraries can keep copies of the digital content they actually already paid for, then the journal's published information will remain accessible.

There is a wealth of useful information and discussion in the LOCKSS website itself, and especially in Dr. David S. H. Rosenthal's Blog , maintained by one of the founders of LOCKSS.

One of the many important efforts being made using LOCKSS is called CLOCKKS :

' Controlled  LOCKSS is a not-for-profit joint venture between the world’s leading academic publishers and research libraries whose mission is to build a sustainable, geographically distributed dark archive with which to ensure the long-term survival of Web-based scholarly publications for the benefit of the greater global research community.

CLOCKSS is for the entire world's benefit. Content no longer available from any publisher ("triggered content") is available for free. CLOCKSS uniquely assigns this abandoned and orphaned content a Creative Commons license to ensure it remains available forever.' ( Internet 10th June 2017 ,




Posted in: Archives | 0 comments

Confessions of a newsclipping addict

By Research Cooperative, 2017-05-26
Confessions of a newsclipping addict

My Japanese wife reads two newspapers per day but claims it is just one, with morning and evening editions. She's a subscriber and reader. She has a photographic memory. I'm a non-subscriber and a clipper.

To be precise, I am a newsclipping addict. For environmental reasons!

Clipping helps me to remember things. I forget what exactly, but surely it does. Or at least, I know that I have already seen a paper if I find holes in it.

I've made a pact that I should not buy my next paper until I've finished clipping what catches my eye from the previous paper next to my chair at our dining table. I'm systematic, each page checked for clipworthy news is folded and put onto the paper recycling pile. A huge pile of paper in the corner of our living room.

We all read newspapers at the table, most often during breakfast. This includes my son. It is rude and unsociable but when else are we going to get time to read the paper? My son has all day (he lives at home, the newspaper is his university, along with the internet). My wife and I have only minutes free, squeezed into busy work schedules.

Clipworthy means I want to read the article twice. Or see it again in twenty years. Maybe use it for teaching. Maybe write about it. Maybe dream about it. Maybe see a new direction for my research, or change my life because of it.

I always think that another PhD lives in the questions raised by a good piece of news writing. I have hundreds of possible PhD topics stashed away in my paper files, waiting for the students I will never have. Waiting for second lives and further reincarnations for which I have every hope but no reasonable expectation. One life seems lucky enough, a sparkling moment at the surface of a broad and continuous stream.

Perhaps that is the miracle of news. We can live many lives through the stories we read. Good news means news that has meaning, significance, resonance. It sparkles, or makes me miserable, drowns my spirit -- but I cannot turn down the chance to learn from something that catches my eye or mind or heart. Or stomach. From past experience, I trust my gut reactions. Sometimes I clip first, and then later understand why I did that.

Really bad news is a nightmare that I try to forget. I don't need to know everything about problems that I cannot do anything about. There are enough unhappy and happy stories that I should look at. They concern matters close to my own life and work. Agriculture, food security, pest and disease in the food chain, arable land loss, global fertiliser supplies, poverty, over-population, food trade, small-scale farming, artists, writers, farmers, plants, or animals.

I may be a wide-grazing, newsclipping addict, but that doesn't mean I don't have focus.

The news is a lens. The optics may be fuzzy at times, but newspapers do give me a deeper, wider perspective on what I am doing with the rest of my day. I like taking what comes, sorting out the wheat from the chaff, finding unexpected gems. What will the next turn of the page bring?

The news is a drug. Clipping the news is a daily addiction, accompanied by sounds of family, rain, frogs chirping in the fields outside, passing trains, another cup of tea. Followed by a dash to the station, with ideas to think about as I study the space between my nose and the next passenger.

Posted in: Newspapers | 0 comments

The 'Riken Affair" and home schooling

By Research Cooperative, 2014-04-22

My son here in Japan is of an age when he is seriously beginning to think about what it might be like to enter university... and why he might want to do that. He doesn't have much experience of writing, and writing does not seem to be a strong concern at his mid-level, local highschool. We expect that he will face a steep learning curve if he does go to university.

Few the last few weeks though, there has been continuous daily coverage of the 'STAP cell" controversy, also known as the "Riken Affair". The affair started with publication of a paper in Nature by researchers at Japan's Institute of Physical and Chemical Research ('Riken'). One strand of the story goes back to the university training of the young researcher who was first author of the coauthored paper.

Her PhD was found to contain plagiarised elements, that were further copied into the paper published in Nature, despite there being no stated connection with the thesis in the Nature paper. Concern has been raised about standards of training and supervision at universities where some staff may have too many PhD students to give sufficient attention to their work.

In the Focus column of the Japan Times (Friday 18th April 2014), it is noted that a growing number of universities in Japan are introducing software systems to detect plagiarism in academic papers. At the same time, universities have started to publish all doctoral theses online, following introduction of a rule by the education ministry that made this mandatory.

The two systems most commonly used by universities here appear to be internationally-known products called iThenticate and Turnitin.

I hope the use of such systems to deter plagiarism does not become a substitute for teaching students how to learn, think, and write. Unexpectedly, we've been having family discussions about research, writing, and publishing. A good result of the Riken Affair has been some home schooling that may help our son think more realistically the purpose of a university education.

Posted in: Japan | 0 comments

My first copy of the journal "Science Editor"

By Research Cooperative, 2013-05-07

Last year, for $179, I joined the Council of Science Editors (headquarters in the USA). The cost was a bit of shock, but I have been looking forward to seeing their journal. I like having a good read for the train.

Today I received the first issue for 2013: Science Editor , Vol. 36 (1, January-March), with 36 pages.

As well as being supported by membership dues, the journal has one inside-front and two back-cover pages carrying full page advertisements.

The present issue shows advertisements for online publishers and publishing systems. The issue theme is related:

Perspectives on Open Access .

It's a slim volume, but the writing is all to a high standard, and is clearly guided by an understanding that less can be more.

Reading what editors say about writing, editing, and publishing might sound like self-inflicted punishment to many people.

Rest assured, the pain is short-lived, and you may enjoy relief afterwards. The editors believe in Brevity.

Personally, I am glad to see the work of authors who are caring and knowledgeable about how science is communicated.

See: Science Editor

A free white paper can be downloaded: Open Access: Five Considerations for Publishers

Posted in: Editing | 0 comments

Costs and expectations

By Research Cooperative, 2012-11-05

As writers, we researchers are lucky if we can find sympathetic and understanding colleagues to read and comment on our work in draft form. Sometimes, a coauthor may contribute less to the nuts and bolts of writing than a friendly reader (though the coauthor may have contributed in other ways that are also important).

Even when we pay for an editor to look at our work, it can be a matter of luck if costs and expectations match perfectly.

Finding an editor or editing company that can consistently provide such a match it not something we can expect to happen instantly. The best idea is to have more than one paper go through an editor, and to try different editors, and see if the costs and results are satsfactory.

Giving a draft to an editor is not the end of a writers work, it is really just the second stage in a process that may take several more steps. It is best to plan for a generous amount of time between completion of the first draft, and eventual submission to a publisher.

Some editing companies may offer quick or light editing at lower prices than slow and heavy editing. If the latter is really needed, for the intended use of the written work, than choosing quick and light may end up being more expensive and slower in the end, as the slow and heavy editing will still be necessary.

Writers need to make an effort to communicate openly and clearly with a possible editor or editing company before making a contract. Don't assume that others know exactly what you want or need, or what you can afford to pay.

If you cannot find any person or company to work with here in the Research Cooperative, consider again the people in your own circle of friends and colleagues. Can you ask for help closer to home? Can you offer something in return? Has your institution or department ever discussed how writing efforts can be supported from within the institution or department itself?

The Research Cooperative has been created to encourage a sense of the value of cooperation in academic research and publishing. This includes cooperation outside the confines of our own network, and outside the academic world. Even when commerical editors and translators are involved, it is best to approach them in a cooperative or collaborative way, not to see them as mere beasts of burden.

Most editors and translators who offer to work for academic writers are themselves academically trained to some extent - and often to a great extent. If we look around, and communicate with care and attention, people with a huge variety of interests and skills can be found.

So, to conclude: please expect real costs - in terms of your own time or money - if you wish to engage seriously with an editor, and see good results for your writing.

It is possible to have minimal costs, financially, if you can form or join a network of trusted friends or colleagues, to share work in progress and offer mutual support. But building and maintaining such a network is naturally a long-term and gradual process. It won't happen if you never try or make a start.

It is also possible to have reasonable costs and reasonable expectations, based on experience - and experience is a key word.

For example, if you have never worked with professional editors, learn how to make most effective use of the interaction, in order to get good value for the cost. And by good value, I do not mean just value for the particular work being published. I also mean good value for your experience.

Investing in a good editor can be similar to investing in a training course for a special skill - in this case, the skill of writing. If you can learn from your editors, that raises the value for money immensely.

Finally - weigh the cost needed to get your work published by your target publisher against the costs of:

- doing the actual research and writing, and

- not getting the work published in the place where you want it to go.

Investing (say) a month's salary in the publishing process, for a good piece of research, may eventually help you move into a better paying position in the same institution or another institution. The cost may be high in the short term, but if you have confidence in the research you have done, and a long-term interest in the subject, then it may not be a high cost in the long-term.

Researchers often face very uncertain employment conditions and prospects, but building up a record of original and well-written publications will certainly help in any quest for employment.

The quality is more important than the quantity - not just from the employer's point of view, but also so that we can be happy in ourselves, and confident about our own abilities.

Posted in: Writing | 0 comments

The Irene Adler Affect

By Research Cooperative, 2012-07-23

After watching another Sherlock Holmes episode with my 15 year old son, I am experiencing the Irene Adler Affect once again: That tantalising, tender feeling of almost...


A dictionary definition of the term 'affect' as a psychological term is suitable here: 'a feeling, emotion, or desire, esp. leading to action'.

What is it that leads us to action as scientists? Not always, or perhaps even rarely, some kind of logical chain of argument. We are ultimately motivated by personal feelings, unless we happen to be robotic automatons.

Of course, we all have different feelings, and reasons. But the Irene Adler Affect for Sherlock Holmes is the attraction of a mystery and trail of clues that lead to a resolution that is never complete, that inevitably leads to further mystery, and a new trail.

She is forever unreachable, setting up a trail of clues and answers that are forever tantalising to him, no matter how close he comes to her.

As scientists, we cannot live in a fictional world and recast ourselves in different centuries in order to pursue our scientific curiosity. We have to accept that the unattainable Irene Adler will outlive us.

All we can do is add questions and answers to a tangled trail of clues, and hope that others will pick up something we left for them in a year, or ten years, or in a hundred years.

When I write a research paper, no matter how obscure the topic and the publication, I like to think that someone might find something new to follow even if they pick up the trail one hundred years later.

Perhaps to be immortal, as scientists, we have to be both Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler at the same time. In the movie fiction, the two characters do almost seem to be different faces of one person.

Unfortunately, we have to be our own scriptwriters as well. No matter how exciting the work seems to us, unless we are also great writers, the work may not seem so very exciting to others.

Not to worry. Even a deadpan and dry manuscript that has no obvious importance or historical significance can emerge as the veiled clue that tantalises and tempts others, later.

It is better to to do great research without fanfare than poor research with great fanfare.

With time, great research will eventually be recognised, if we all make an effort to see the greatness in others.

Irene A. has given us a clue, and is waiting.

Posted in: Film | 1 comments
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