Chief Admin


Blogs: 171
Pages: 4
Memos: 113
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: Online

Falling Fruit - a nice idea ripe with problems?

By Research Cooperative, 2014-11-19

Here's my comment for Falling Fruit , a project aiming to crowdsource data in order to map fruit trees located in public spaces. The idea is to make free food sources more widely known. Nice in theory but...

Falling fruit from public trees in a particular community might already be known by the community. How can this app help local communities advertise trees available within the community, while protecting those trees from overharvesting by outsiders who learn about them through the Falling Fruit network? When we map trees, can we limit access to people within a certain defined area, as identifed by the IP address of each computer or mobile device?

Posted in: Online | 0 comments

Ebola, communication, and support for local communities

By Research Cooperative, 2014-09-14

The website of Science (31st August 2014) has a good article introducing the ups and downs of trying to model the Ebola outbreak.

At the end of the news article, Science offers the following:

*The Ebola Files: Given the current Ebola outbreak, unprecedented in terms of number of people killed and rapid geographic spread, Science and Science Translational Medicine have made a collection of research and news articles on the viral disease freely available to researchers and the general public.

This is good, but I would also like to see collections of information on how communities can respoind themselves,with and without the help of professional health services... and the information should be

(a) in all the languages of the people who are affected, or likely to be affected soon, and

(b) appear in written, audio and video formats that can be transmitted freeely through mobile phones, local radio, TV, and so on.

I would be grateful if members of our network who live in Africa can tell us more about what they are seeing in their own local media.

How can local communities be empowered to deal effectively with this disease themselves, at the same time as outside efforts are made to extend help?

Please comment!

Addendum (WHO report, cited in Science Insider, online news article , 8 September 2014)

"...far greater community engagement is the cornerstone of a more effective response. Where communities take charge, especially in rural areas, and put in place their own solutions and protective measures, Ebola transmission has slowed considerably."

Posted in: Online | 2 comments

Of course, it already exists, but I am just trying to give a name to what people are already doing: using the Google search engine to discover what is common usage for a particular word, spelling, or phrase. Or to check facts and their usage.

Take for example these leading sentences from the Google company description (Internet: 28th Oct. 2012, ):

"Googles mission is to organize the worlds information and make it universally accessible and useful. Our company has packed a lot into a relatively young life. Since Google was founded in 1998, weve grown to serve hundreds of thousands of users and customers around the world."

The first sentence indicates a present and future quality. The second sentence indicates a past achievement. The third sentence understates the past achievement with the statement: "weve grown to serve hundreds of thousands of users". Google itself has recently reported more than 100,000,000 users (see ).

In this way, we can use Google to show that Google is not using itself to update its information on users and customers (I count the latter as a subcategory of user).

All this is a distraction from my main point, that using Google to check the usage of words (and the usage of facts) is now common, and incredibly useful for pedantic editors. Try this example:

1, "second hand"
2. "second-hand"
3. "secondhand"

The exact results of search on each of these usages will vary from day to day, but overall, we can expect to get a good idea of what is common usage. I need this for a newsletter I am editing today. Here are the results:

1. About 168,000,000 results
2. ditto
3. About 81,400,000 results

In short, the idea is usually expressed as two separate words, with or without a hyphen.

Unfortunately, I do not know how to force Google to recognise the difference between a hyphen and a space in this example. A purpose-built Google Usage Machine is needed to allow very refined searches in relation to the search terms used, and the areas of Internet searched. The present Search Engine is being used for a purpose for which it was not intended.

If a purpose-built Google Usage Machine exists, or can be built, I would be very happy. And the authors being edited might also be happy. Even if the acronym is GUM, the Machine would help reduce friction in the process of writing and editing.

How many people might benefit from such a machine?

Potentially many millions, not just the " hundreds of thousands of users and customers" still claimed by Google.

Posted in: Online | 0 comments

Information overload?

By Research Cooperative, 2012-08-31

Hmmm... I wonder. There is definitely a vast amount of information circulating in the world, in different media, with different speeds. There are also many commentators.

Despite the general situation, the theme of research communication, or academic communication, seems to barely register in the cacophony of news and comment. It is hardly ever discussed in depth by research organisations, so why should the general public be concerned?

Whenever something unusual happens in the world, journalists often turn to an academic or other research specialist for some deeper insight into what is happening. Researchers are expected to know stuff, but how we know stuff is largely a mystery to most people in the world. The general public does not read our journals, and for many journals, there are not many academic readers either!

What exactly is happening to all the information we produce? There is some discussion going on about production and distribution... print vs online, subscription services vs free, open access. But what is happening to information when it reaches us? How much do we actually read? How does the quality of writing affect our intake? Our attention and understanding? What happens when poorly written research is studied by someone for whom the research language is a second language?

We experience not only information overload, but also information resistance. Consciously and unconsciously, we are selective in our reading. We have to be.

For teaching, for research, for writing, we have to sift through our information sources, including our own original observations and ideas, and somehow integrate it all into our own writings and presentations.

When all the ingredients are boiled down, there may not be much information in the mix after all.

Authors repeat themselves. Authors come to the same conclusions as other authors, by different routes. Each paper we read may actually add just a little new information to what is already known.

Putting new information in context and repeating information published elsewhere is necessary, but the balance is critical for good writing and happy reading.

Information that is repeated can also more easily be found... hence the republication of historic key papers in edited anthologies.

My conclusion is not that we are experiencing information overload. We are experiencing information clutter.

There is a world of difference between a well-selected anthology of great papers, and journal full of 'new' papers that are padded with information from other sources, and lacking in original content.

My hope is that the Research Cooperative will help improve the information:clutter ratio in publishing.

That way, we can help maintain the role of research as a source of new information and understanding in society generally.

For many issues of concern to society, information is sorely lacking!

Our goal is to help reduce clutter, and improve the quality of information that we provide, for each other (as members of diverse research communities), and for the world at large.

Posted in: Online | 0 comments

Setting up a science blog

By Research Cooperative, 2009-01-24

Damien Carrington at SciDev has written a nice introduction on how to set up a science blog - and why.

Members of the Research Cooperative can use their own pages on the Cooperative to blog about anything, but ideally they will also use them to blog on matters related to scientific writing, translation, editing, and publishing.

Which leads me to a question - what are the connotations of 'research' and 'science' as nouns, or 'research' and 'scientific' as adjectives?

My own feeling is that 'research' as a noun, verb, or adjective refers more closely to the practical investigation a particular something.

'Science', 'doing science' and 'scientific' may have broader meanings, suggesting a larger realm of knowledge or a larger discipline within which research is carried out.

Posted in: Online | 0 comments