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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


Think, Write, Publish - and the Research Cooperative

By Research Cooperative, 2017-01-04

The "creative nonfiction" project that started at Arizona State University (ASU) continues today as the " Think, Write, Publish "  project... a project aimed at improving the communication of knowledge in society generally.

I first learned about this through a post by Research Cooperative member " Science Writer ".

The original 2010 post in a now defunct forum of the Research Cooperative is cited below for reference. Please visit the site above to learn about current activities of the project. A similar course was offered again in 2012, so it may be worth looking for similar opportunities at ASU in the future, under the umbrella of the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes (CSPO) .

Science writing is of direct interest for the Research Cooperative. Development of our network has only been possible with the emergence of low-cost social networking systems on the internet. The Research Cooperative is just one of many research-related social networks, but our aims are distinct from most other networks: we have a very practical focus on all the steps involved in research writing and publishing.

We are also creating opportunities for participation from across the full spectrum of people who are learning about research, doing research, and getting research published.

These are matters that I would be happy to explain in more detail to any science writer who would like to write a story involving the Research Cooperative, for any medium. I can offer to participate in an email interview, or to make time for a telephone interview.

If you are a science writer (or are trying to become one), and would like to discuss this matter, please contact me directly.

Thanks, Dr Peter J. Matthews, Japan.

Email: researchcooperative --at-- gmail --dot--- com.


A unique writing and publishing fellowship: To Think-To Write-To Publish--A program for "next generation" writers of any genre with an interest in science and technology. Learn creative nonfiction techniques. Develop and pitch ideas to book and magazine editors and literary agents. Publish your work. Featuring two intense days of writing, highlighted by an intimate and practical workshop with Lee Gutkind, author and editor of Creative Nonfiction Magazine and a conversation with New York Times science writer, Gina Kolata. Participents will enjoy an all expenses paid, five day retreat as the guest of the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes at Arizona State University, including a stay at the Mission Palms Hotel, Tempe, Arizona, plus a $500 honorarium. Application deadline is March 15, 2010.

For more details see our flier [no longer an active link] To apply contact Alexis at

Posted in: Writing | 0 comments

Student Journals

By Research Cooperative, 2017-01-04

One of the aims of the Research Cooperative is to promote interest in research writing and publishing among university students from the moment they begin university.

At some universities, in some countries, student journals and newspapers are published by students or university departments. They vary in style and aims, but they all provide students opportunities to start writing for an audience, and a publisher, and to work with editors.

Even a student newspaper with broad topic coverage might publish early efforts at science writing by students. Some student journals, like the late TANE journal of the late University of Auckland Field Club, New Zealand, can be nurturing grounds for professional scientific writing.

What is happening now in the Internet era?

Some time ago I created a blog site to start looking at student journals, but have not had have time to develop the idea further.

Members of the Research Cooperative might eventually like to develop this as a project inside our network. If you are interested, please visit the blog, and discuss the idea here.


Posted in: Publishing | 0 comments

Research cooperation: Yes? No?

By Research Cooperative, 2016-12-26

Cooperation may be the lifeblood of scientific research, but individuals working in isolation can also make significant breakthroughs - in part because of their isolation. Freedom from distractions!

For most researchers though, some degree of cooperation with others is necessary in order to be employed by a university department or other organisation, and in order to obtain funds from granting agencies. This can go too far though - it may be comfortable to be agreeable and cooperative at all times with all people, but this may come at the expense of an effective focus on individual effort. Being agreeable can lead us into endless administrative time wasting, or into worthwhile work that is not our own, and which may not be fully acknowledged.

So what is the ideal balance, in our cooperative and individual approaches to research?

This has to depend on the character of each person, the character of the social and cultural context, and the character of the research intended. Medical science often depends, for example, on the existence of willing participants in clinical trials. Anthropology and many other field sciences cannot proceed without the agreement of local communities and land owners.

A theoretical mathematician may have the least need for cooperation, as far as the work itself is concerned, but is still a human being with human needs for social interaction and recognition of the value of the work. The great diversity of ways of approaching mathematics and finding inspiration for mathematical thinking may mean that mathematics, as a field, needs people who occupy the entire spectrum of social engagement - from extreme isolation to extreme cooperation.

A particular research project may also need to move from less cooperative to more cooperative phases, over time. The most simple example of this is when the individual working in isolation eventually seeks to publish a piece of work, and wishes to have it published in a peer-reviewed journal. The isolationist who remains isolationist when attempting to publish may find the process of publishing unpleasant because of the need to not offend journal editors and reviewers.

Not offending does not mean that agreeing with editors and reviewer is necessary. Critical and constructive argument about a submitted paper, and a certain amount of tension among all involved, are needed to raise not only the standards of writing, but also the standards of editing and review.

The publishing process is not a one-way-street with only the editors and reviewers in a position of power. Authors also have the power to choose where they try to publish, and should think carefully about their choices. Writing and publishing are also part of the research process. These activities bring us into contact with readers, and through our readers new opportunities for research and cooperation may arise.

Research, independence, interdependence, writing, publishing, reading, the ending of one project, and the beginning of another.... these are all intertwined, and become more so when research is pursued over many years. Possibilities for cooperation may grow faster than our ability to actually join new projects and interact with others effectively. There are times to say yes, and times to say no.

Which somehow makes me think of a Beatles song: "Hello, Goodbye".

The relationship of a scientist with his or her work must also have ups and downs. That's life, that's how science should be, and that's how this particular blog post should end.

Posted in: Work | 0 comments

Academic writing and acknowledging contributors

By Research Cooperative, 2016-12-25

Consider the following questions.

  • How should we acknowledge sources and contributors in our research? What is fair; what is necessary?

  • Does making acknowledgments dilute the academic standing that writers seek for themselves and their supporting institutions?

  • How do we negotiate authorship when more than one person is involved in the research, and when more than one person is involved in the actual writing? Do we include the 'authors' of research as well as the authors of the paper?

Questions about sources, attribution, authority, and authorship form an active area of discussion on the internet, and at universities with strong research and teaching programmes. My own perspective, below, is rather broad and anthropological.

Research acknowledgments - and structural limitations on academic writing

Here is how Pliny acknowledged his sources, in the preface to his encyclopedia, Naturalis Historia (Natural History) published in circa AD 77-79:

'I have prefaced these volumes with the names of my authorities. I have done so because it is, in my opinion, a pleasant thing and one that shows an honourable modesty, to own up to those who were the means of one's achievements...'

Most publications owe their existence to many different people and organisations. Contributions can be made in many different ways, before, during and after the actual research has taken place, and during the writing process. For some publications, very few people are involved other than the author, and acknowledging contributions is a simple matter.

When many people are involved, acknowledging contributions is not always simple. Difficulties may arise because of writing conventions and formal limitations on the content and structure of academic writing.

Most academic or scientific papers have a fairly predictable, formal structure, and follow a series of written or unwritten rules or conventions. Academic journals and publishers have 'house rules' or 'author guidelines' that make the rules and conventions explicit. These are very important for maintaining academic standards, and also make it easier for readers to focus on content and meaning after becoming familiar with the conventions.

Author guidelines and house rules

Experimental research papers often have the same basic structure:

Title, Author(s), Author affiliation(s), Abstract, Keywords, Introduction, Materials and Methods, Discussion, Conclusions, Acknowledgments, References, Appendices

Depending on the rules of each publisher, different kinds of contribution can be acknowledged in different places, namely:

1. the identification and sequence of authors and coauthors
2. notes on author affiliations
3. introductory comments
4. personal communications cited in the text
5. unpublished notes and data cited in the text
6. references cited in the text
7. acknowledgments

In the social sciences, footnotes are often also used, and these can also include various kinds of acknowledgment.

Some publishers do not permit the citing of personal communications and unpublished notes or data. When someone is cited in a personal communication, only the name and date may be given, within the text or in a footnote. Some authors identify the source of a pers. comm. more fully in the acknowledgments, noting the person's job description, institutional affiliation, and role or relationship to the author. All of this information can be used to establish the authority of the person being cited, and to make their contribution more clear to readers.

Contributions and contributors, authors and coauthors

A wide range of possible contributions and contributors are indicated in the categories below. If you can suggest further categories, please tell us.

1. Authorship
By authors and coauthors. Many universities offer guidelines about who should or should not be recognised as authors and coauthors (see Bibliography below).

2. Advice and discussion
Advisors and discussants who have helped in obtaining, recording, or interpreting information may be research colleagues, formally appointed advisors, informally adopted advisors, supervisors, technicians, editors, and others.
Ethical advice may be provided by a university or government ethics committee for example, or a private organisation that represents certain stakeholders.

3. Initiating research and project motivations
The author or someone else may be primarily responsible for initiating the research being published. How a research project began, and the people involved, can be described in the introduction, in a footnote, or in the final acknowledgements. Even if it is not possible to identify a single starting point, it should be possible to explain the main motivations for a project, and the people involved.
It is surprising how often motivations are not made clear, even when private commercial motivations are not involved. When publishing some kinds of research, the authors or their sponsors might not want private commercial interests to be revealed.

4. Supervision
Supervisors may be student supervisors, project supervisors, or government agencies and private stakeholders who have some kind of authority over a project. Not all kinds of supervision involve discussion and interpretion of the actual research.

5. Financial support
Granting agencies, foundations, trusts, private companies, not-for-profit organisations (NPOs), relatives, or the researcher him- or herself, and other funding sources may provide scholarships, living expenses or research money.
It is usual for greater academic status to be associated with non-personal sources because obtaining them implies that some kind of objective assessment has been made of the researcher's abilities and the quality of the research.
For this reason, family and friends are often not achnowledged, except where convention permits this in the dedication of a book or thesis. In the latter contexts, it is usually understood that a large component of personal time and effort may be involved, and that near-family may deserve some acknowledgement.

6. Personal support
Personal or private supporters such as family and friends often provide encouraging words, food, housing, transport, and other practical assistance. Such support can be seen as moral encouragement because it shows social acceptance for research efforts that are often carried out in relative solitude. If and how personal support is acknowledged in publication follows from considerations similar to those noted above for financial assistance.

7. Help and information from field sources - usually non-academic.
In field-based research (i.e. research conducted in places and social situations where the researcher is an outsider) guides, informants, interpreters, and others are often sources of oral information, or may provide practical demonstrations of various kinds of activity. Other communities within academia itself can be fields for some kinds of research, so field sources are not necessarily non-academic.

8. Providing archival information and materials.
For many kinds of research and writing, essential help is provided by archivists, librarians, and research assistants working in libraries and other archives. Even though this is their expected role, the people and institutions involved should be acknowledged if they have been important for a research or writing project, and if the writer wishes to give back support for support given.

9. Permissions and permits.
For various aspects of research and writing, permissions and permits may have been obtained from public and private authorities. Some examples are national park managers, government research and security agencies, university authorities, community leaders, and the leaders of companies and other organisations.

10. Writing services - academic editing, proofreading, translation, etc.
When writing services are requested and paid for as a commercial transaction, it can be argued that no public acknowledgement is required because money has been paid. However, in order to do their job well, editors and translators often need to think deeply about what they are reading. If they are familiar with the research subject or related fields, then it should be no surprise if they offer ideas and information that are significant for the content and interpretation of research. Such intellectual contributions should be acknowledged out of respect for the contributors, and so that others can properly judge the contributions of authors. In fact, a good writer will be open to non-trivial suggestions from any direction, will make his or her own judgements about all suggestions, and will acknowledge the help received privately or in the publication.


The present mini-review of possible contributions and contributors is meant to illustrate the social reality of how research is done and published. Many contributions and contributors are never acknowledged for logistical reasons. Because the overall space available for a hard-copy publication is always limited, authors and publishers must also place limits on each component of the publication. This is also true for online publications that are subject to editorial control, even though though physical space and weight are not limiting factors. Allocating space to acknowledgements is a matter of balance as well as cost, and priorities must vary for different kinds of contribution.

A few basic rules

My own opinion is that authors are generally not inclusive enough. Perhaps three very basic or general rules can be recommended:

(i) Authors should be as inclusive as possible - as far as space and publishing rules permit, and with consideration for balance, fairness, and the particular importance of each contribution.

(ii) Readers should be able to learn something about all significant contributors, especially when the contributions might otherwise be assumed to come from the author or authors.

(iii) Readers should be able to recognise the academic and social contexts in which research and writing were conducted. Making acknowledgements is an important contribution to the description of methods, from the start to finish of a research project.

Why are the contexts important?

Providing information about academic and social contexts is important because it can help future readers find starting points for exploring and verifying the research reported... even if there were good ethical reasons for not being completely explicit about all aspects of context.

In anthropology for example, exactly where research was conducted, and the real names of informants, are often not stated. This is done out of respect for the privacy of informants and local communities, and should be accompanied by a statement explaining that aliases have been used. Even in this kind of work, informants and communities can be thanked and acknowledged without being named, or by using aliases that become known through contact with the authors.

Only in the (fictional) International Online Journal of Acknowledgements might we find that more attention is paid to the contributors than contributions. This is an absurd fiction of course. Yet such a journal might eventually be useful as an adjunct to research in many fields, providing essentially unlimited space for acknowledging (and perhaps also claiming) contributions to research. Already, some online and paper journals are providing links to online information and discussion that is not presented in the main publication.

Although I prefer to err in the direction of inclusiveness when writing my own papers, and despite the example you are reading now, I doubt the value of linking every publication to an ever expanding network of information sources.

It is important for writers to bring focus to a particular subject, and to create works that can be read and largely understood without reference to other sources - by readers in a target audience. This creates a discipline that helps in the writing process, and it also makes the resulting work more transportable, physically and conceptually. It is a piece that has an end, and can be talked about and discussed as a distinct entity, with clearly defined sources.


Comments are welcome, and may be used for future revisions. For a more concise view of the same subject, here is a poem for writers: Read it!

Thank you.


The author thanks his employer, The National Museum of Ethnology , for allowing time to prepare this article. The articles noted in the bibliography are not cited above but were useful in various ways.


1. The Legal Rights of Collaborators And Joint Authors
By Attorney Lloyd J. Jassin

2. Writing a scientific paper
By S.R. Raidal, S.M. Jaensch and F Stephens.
Division of Veterinary and Biomedical Science, Murdoch University, Perth, WA

3. Prevalence of Articles With Honorary Authors and Ghost Authors in Peer-Reviewed Medical Journals
By Annette Flanagin, RN, MA; Lisa A. Carey, PhD; Phil B. Fontanarosa, MD; Stephanie G. Phillips, MS, PhD; Brian P. Pace, MA; George D. Lundberg, MD; Drummond Rennie, MD. (JAMA. 1998;280:222-224)

4. Multiple Authorships
By Barry Werner & Mary Beth Niergarten
(The Scientist 6[10]:12, May. 11, 1992)

Approved by the Graduate Council of the Faculty Senate on 2 April 1990.

6. Guidelines for Coauthorship of Scholarly Publications

7. Responsible Authorship
By Caroline Whitbeck
(The Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science)

8. Authorship ethics.
By Syrett, Kristen L. & Rudner, Lawrence M. (1996)
Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 5(1).

9. Robert Harris (2004) Pompeii (a novel). Arrow Books (source for the quote by Pliny).

Posted in: Writing | 0 comments

Message to the Editing Community group

By Research Cooperative, 2016-12-18

Dear Members of the Editing Community group of the Research Cooperative,

The ability to find or offer editing and other services in our social network depends entirely on members providing information in their public profile pages.

If you have not recently visited the Research Cooperative, you may need to request a new password . This can be done using the email address that you have registered with (i.e. the address with which this message has been sent to you).

Most of the data in a public profile is optional, but the more information you can provide, the easier it will be for other members to find your profile and the editing services that are offered or needed.

You can test this yourself by going to the search page for all members of the Research Cooperative , and using the search field to look for other members. After adding your own profile data, you can use this page to test whether your profile is in fact visible when relevant keywords are used to search the network.

Peter Matthews (Admin., Kyoto)

Today, as Admin, I changed a setting for Regular Members that determines which page existing members see first after login.

The options  for the Login Redirect Page are: own profile page, a site index page, or the URL to any page in the network.

I have set this to the URL to the Services forum page , which reprresents the core function of our network - a place where members can make offers or requests for services related to research writing and academic, educational or scientific communication generally.

The Signup Redirect Page remains unchanged: own profile page.

This is important because the first useful thing a new member can do is to provide information about themselves for the Admin to see (under the Account settings tab of the profile page) and for other members and site visitors to see (under the Profile settings tab of the profile page).

Adding public profile data with the Profile settings allows other members to find you, and any services you may be offering or needing, and also allows you to find other members who have also provided public information. Having a public profile is the first step needed to build a useful personal network and working relationships.

Account and Profile data can be updated at any time after login, by going to your profile page using the menu tab with your profile name (in the site main menu).


Publishers I like

By Research Cooperative, 2016-12-12

Greenleaf - a specialist publisher in Sustainability, Governance, Environmental Management and Corporate Social Responsibility.

Posted in: Publishing | 0 comments

Carbon offsetting for my conference flight

By Research Cooperative, 2016-11-15

During the 1st International Congress for Agrobiodiversity, New Delhi, 6.-9. Nov., 2016 , one of our speakers asked how many participants had paid for carbon offsetting because of their travel emissions. Very few had done so, among the hundreds of participants.

Since the Congress was about biological diversity, and in part about the ongoing effects of climate change on crop production and crop diseases, I decided after the Congress to personally pay a travel CO2 offset via the World Land Trust .

The primary aims of this UK-based NPO are to ensure conservation of plants, animals and natural communities in areas at risk worldwide. These aims are close to my own interest, and the interest of the Congress, so I chose to donate to WLT.

Another organisation that does something similar is the organisation Natural Capital Partners , through its carbonneutralcalculator for air flights.

The two organisations offer very different carbon emission calculations for the same flight route.

The calculations are merely guestimates, but I do not mind too much, since my action is voluntary for a cause I approve of. Nevertheless, it would be good if the different calculators used by different organisations can be compared and somehow tested for accuracy.

There are many carbon emission calculators out there. Are any of them realistic?

Posted in: Conferences | 0 comments
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