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A publisher of one’s own

Friday, July 18, 2014
Roger Whitson

Roger Whitson

Self-published books are on the rise, to the dismay of onlookers who wonder what to expect from a sector where E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey—originally published as online fan fiction by a tiny Australian e-book company—appears to be the best of the lot. More than 391,000 self-published titles appeared in 2012, according to Bowker, the official ISBN-issuing agency for the United States.

Academics, meanwhile, inhabit a parallel publishing ecosystem: a constellation of university presses and journals that publish slowly, offer few economic returns, and subject all work to painstaking peer review. Scholars and publishing experts in the United States and Britain say self-publishing by academics remains a rarity.

Roger Whitson, an assistant professor of English at WSU, said he thought self-publishing books was an undertaking only tenured professors could afford. “Part of the reason why academics publish pre-tenure is that they want to receive credit for becoming a specialist in the field, and one of the main ways they see that happening is through peer review,” Whitson said. “For pre-tenure people who haven’t established a name in the field, academic publishing is really important.”

After receiving tenure, more academics are in a position “to experiment and demand more from different publishing models,” he said.

Whitson has self-published a book of his own: a collection of writing from his postdoctoral program at Georgia Tech. “I would never consider it a major publication of mine,” he said. “It was just something that was fun.” Whitson does not list the book on his CV.

Read more about self-publishing in Inside Higher Ed

Women make great leaders – now they just need to start believing it

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Joyce Ehrlinger

Joyce Ehrlinger

The fact that women are vastly under-represented in high-level leadership positions is well known, but the exact reason for it is still the subject of much debate.

Research has long shown that men are more self-assured in general, and often overestimate their abilities and potential, while women are far more prone to underestimate and second-guess themselves.

Research by WSU psychologist Joyce Ehrlinger and Cornell psychologist David Dunning also shows that women tend to rate themselves more negatively.

In the study, male and female college students were given a quiz on scientific reasoning, after which they were asked to assess how many questions they thought they had gotten right. On average, the male students thought they had gotten 7.1 answers right, while the female students thought they had answered only 5.8 correctly.

In reality, though, the average for male and female students was almost exactly the same – 7.5 correct answers for the female students and 7.9 for the male students.

This negative self-perception can prevent women from taking on new challenges or opportunities.

Find out more about the gender gap in leadership assessment

Mormons discuss Book of Abraham translation

Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Armand Mauss

Armand Mauss

A nearly 3,000-word article posted recently on the website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) says the Book of Abraham is inspired scripture and probably not a literal translation from ancient Egyptian scrolls by Mormon founder Joseph Smith.

The essay marks a departure from past explanations by LDS officials and embraces the widely-held view from religious scholars and historians that Smith’s work isn’t a direct translation, said Armand Mauss, a retired professor of sociology and religious studies at WSU.

“It is an official recognition — even a concession — that Joseph Smith could not, and did not, ‘translate’ any scriptures in the literal, scholarly sense that is usually implied by the term ‘translate,’” Mauss said.

The article recognizes that it’s impossible to know how exactly Smith used the papyri to write the Book of Abraham. There were no eyewitnesses to the translation process, and only fragments of the scrolls exist today, the article says. It notes that Smith never claimed to know the language it was in.

Read more about the church’s essay

Research: Women more sensitive to, affected by marijuana

Thursday, July 3, 2014
Rebecca Craft

Rebecca Craft

After decades of researching gender differences in the effects of drugs, Rebecca Craft, professor and chair of psychology, has found that females using marijuana are likelier than men to become dependent on the drug and suffer more severe withdrawals.

At the same time, females seem to be more sensitive to the drug’s pain-relieving qualities.

Craft studies the effects of psychoactive drugs on rats and reported these findings most recently in journals such as Life Sciences and Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Her work, funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, focuses on the medical side of cannabinoids, the class of drugs found in marijuana.

Read more about this research in Washington State Magazine online

Woman seeks to open transitional home for rehabilitating ex-inmates

Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Zachary Hamilton

Zachary Hamilton

Dorothy Owsley spent years visiting jails and prisons to help inmates figure out their plans for re-entry into the community, and she frequently heard the same story.

“I heard a lot of ‘I don’t know what to do. I don’t have anywhere to go. Where I lived before got me in trouble in the first place,’ ” said Owsley, 62.

That’s why Owsley said transitional homes play an important role in breaking a cycle that can end with those inmates back behind bars. She’s planning to turn a brick house in Roanoke, Va., into a transitional home for about eight area women released from jail or prison.

Zachary Hamilton, an assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology and an expert in offender re-entry and rehabilitation, said research is mixed regarding the effectiveness of transitional facilities. He said that places focusing on a specific goal, such as addiction recovery or employment, tend to show more positive results. His own research has shown that a structured environment coupled with parole conditions results in fewer parole violations.

More about the planned home and Hamilton’s research

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