Chief Admin


Blogs: 161
Pages: 4
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


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 ,




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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

Today, after reviewing the "Centennial Memorial Issue" of The Journal of Japanese Botany , I've set myself a challenge: locating 100 journals that have published centennial issues, at any time, and through them: 

10,000+ years of scientific learning

Here is the start of my list (IJf=International Journal for, Jo=Journal of, JoT=Journal of The, Pot=Proceedings of the, T=The, TJo=The Journal of, QJo=Quarterly Journal of).

Using "centennial issue" and "journal" as key words, I could reach 4,000 years in one night ( 10th March 2017). So far, there is a clear American (and English-language) bias in the results obtained.

I will add more titles as opportunity permits. Please comment with any additions you can suggest for this!

  1. Accountancy, Jo
  2. Advanced Materials
  3. American Bar Association Journal
  4. American Educational Research Journal
  5. American Journal of Epidemiology
  6. American Journal of Medicine
  7. American Political Science Review
  8. Applied Psychology, Jo
  9. Audio Engineering Society, JoT
  10. Audiology
  11. Astrophysical Journal, T
  12. California Fish and Game
  13. Catholic Historical Review, T
  14. Dairy Science, Jo
  15. Economic Journal
  16. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal
  17. FASEB Journal (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology)
  18. Harvard Public Health Magazine
  19. Indian Institute of Science, Jot

  20. Institute of Radio Engineers, Pot (now IEEE, Pot )
  21. Japanese Botany, TJo
  22. Mathematical Sciences of the University of Tokyo, Jo ( Kodaira )
  23. Melanie Klein and Object Relations, Jo
  24. Micromechanics and Molecular Physics, Jo
  25. Parasitology, IJf
  26. Phoenix Business Journal, T
  27. Physical Chemistry, TJo
  28. Philippine Law Journal, T
  29. Political Economy, TJo
  30. Psychological Review
  31. Quadrant
  32. Radiology
  33. Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Jo
  34. Review of Research in Education Journal
  35. Rhode Island Medical Journal
  36. Speculative Philosophy, Jo
  37. Speech, QJo
  38. Tennessee State University, TJo
  39. Tohoku Mathematical Journal
  40. Tribology, Jo
Posted in: Publishing | 0 comments

Mr Bloomfield's Orchard

By Research Cooperative, 2017-02-26

Nicholas P. Money (2002) Mr Bloomfield's Orchard: The mysterious world of mushrooms, molds, and mycologists. Oxford University Press: New York.

This is a book that anyone with an interest in biology can enjoy. I came to the book as a botanist who has been gradually becoming aware of the possible complexity of interactions between the crop I study, insects, and fungii. I needed a basic and relatively recent overview of how fungii behave in the world, and this book proved to be a good choice.

My concern is with Phytopthora colocasiae, a leaf blight disease on taro (Colocasia esculenta). Phytopthora infestans, the cause of potato blight, is introduced near the end of the book. It is famous for contributing to the Irish Famine of 1845 (the other contribution came from land, tax and trade policies that did not take into account that a starved and jobless population cannot simply purchase the food it needs: supply cannot meet demand when those in need have no capital. Phytopthora blew in on the wind, and the Irish blew out on sailing ships. One diaspora generated a second.

Money writes in an easy-to-read style that is based on long experience of explaining complex life cycles to university students. The humour used to lighten the reading is sometimes more than needed, but is usually pulled back just in time to reach the serious crux of each topic. The orchard of the title was located in the author's home village in Oxfordshire, UK. It was where he first encountered fungii in large quantities, on rotting fruit. It seems he did not immediately take to fungii, but rather found them a second time through a teacher at university.

My own research trajectory is a little similar - I first ecountered taro, a Pacific crop, growing wild next to a derelict whaling station in northern New Zealand, during a family camping trip. My academic interest did not develop until I met teachers who were passionate about the study of deep history - archaeologists of the Pacific. In this region, taro arrived early, as a crop introduced from island to island. The disease followed centuries later, in the 20th century, spreading out from somewhere in Southeast Asia. After reading a book written by a passionate mycologist, my interest in Phytopthora colocasiae has grown.

It is unlikely that I can help stop the present spread of this disease, but I might learn something useful if I keep my eyes open while studying wild populations of the host plant. And my host plant in its natural habitat might even be a good place to look for fungii that have not been seen before.

It seems that any microcosm that has not already been visited by myocologists is likely to reveal new forms of fungal life. Although most fungii are inconspicuous, they are not insignificant - they play an outsized role in wider ecology of life on Earth.


Posted in: Books | 0 comments

How the Indian Ocean Shaped Human History

By Research Cooperative, 2017-01-21

Sanjeev Sanyal  (2016)  The Ocean of Churn: How the Indian Ocean Shaped Human History, Penguin (297 pp. incl. index).

I found the book in December last year in a great bookshop hidden away on an upper floor of an Indian cottage crafts emporium in New Delhi. Sanyal, an Oxford-trained economist, takes us deep into the prehistory, human migrations, and social upheavals of all regions that lie around or near the Indian Ocean, from our human evolutionary past to modern economic present.

The Ocean of Churn is an expansive journey across time and space, informed by the author's own footwork in many of the places he writes about. The Indian continent is geologically and socially central to the story. Although the author is himself Indian, and is very interested in India's position in world history, he provides a refeshingly frank and balanced view of all the characters in his narrative, in India and beyond.

Sanyal has pulled many diverse subjects into a single coherent, readable narrative that expresses sympathy for ordinary people, admiration for the achievements of extraordinary people, and shows how ordinary people can often be seen as extraordinary when we look back in time.

An implication of all this is that our "ordinary" today would certainly be extraordinary to people in the past. The fact that "ordinary" readers from almost anywhere in the world might chance to read this book review is one example.

A larger purpose of Sanyal's writing may be to help people today understand that human movements and social interractions have been complex and wide-ranging for many thousands of years. His hope, I imagine, is that we can continue adapting to ever-changing circumstances without resorting to the kinds of greed, violence and short-sighted planning that have characterised so many human endeavours in the past.

In this journey around the Indian Ocean, the author introduces the best and worst traits of human nature, and suggests how we may all have significant roles to play in human history -- even if our lives are never recorded in stone memorials that will in any case be buried in the detritus of later ages.

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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
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