Monday, March 31, 2014

WARF's role in patenting and licensing and activities in between

Below is a link to a discussion/ talk about WARF for those of you who might be interested. (It is hosted by UW OHR, but I imagine anyone with a NetID may register.)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Notes from Class Research Paper Workshop

Below are just a few notes I took on general suggestions for our research projects during the workshop we had in class on Friday.
  • Data reduction (Daniel's term) = making sense of the mass of data you've collected; finding the significance of it given preexisting realities of the world.
  • Think about the unit of analysis.
  • Think about what priorities and/or values might be revealed by or driving your research.
  • Follow your sources! Go beyond just determining context and see where they lead you.
  • Explicitly lay out the goals and the limitations of your study.
  • If you feel like the project is getting too big to come to a conclusion within the page limit, think about how its relevancy in terms of the class concepts we've learned about/ how they inform your topic.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Project Proposal: Scientists as Science Writers

As Web 2.0 has emerged, boundaries between media audiences, professionals and sources have blurred. Web 2.0 introduced digital media platforms featuring user-generated content, such as blogs, YouTube, Twitter and podcasts, allowing anyone with Internet access to become a media content provider. These digital platforms have raised questions about how relationships between scientists and the general public may be shifting in response to this new communications landscape. Digital platforms have diminished the role of journalists as gatekeepers, allowing scientists and audiences to communicate directly with one another, and prompting science communications scholars to reorient their focus. As science communications scholar Dominique Brossard insisted in a recent article, “we need to stop talking about the future of science journalism to talk about the present reality of science communication” (Brossard 2013).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Impure Culture, Chapter 1

Purposes of the chapter are 1) to clarify author’s main research question, 2) to introduce author’s methodology for answering the question, 3) to introduce the research subject and 4) to convince the readers that chosen subject and methodology are promising to answer the author’s research question.
In terms of research question, Kleinman clearly declares that his interest is “in the ways that what might broadly be termed the world of commerce shapes the everyday practice of academic laboratory science.” (p. 4) More specifically, author clarifies what are examined and claimed in this book. Kleinman claims that 1) researches on university-industry relations (UIRs) have neglected the pervasive, but indirect influence of commercial world on laboratory practice, and 2) analysis on the agency of laboratory life not sufficient to grasp the actual practice of laboratory, and thus analysis of structure of the laboratory is useful.
           For the purpose of claiming such arguments, author chose to investigate the lab as a participatory observer. It is clearly notified that Kleinman conducted a full-time ethnographic research for six months on spring of 1995, and followed by part-time observation even after the six month intensive research period. Author also explicitly emphasizes that he tried to be a part of lab culture by wearing like them, learning several lab techniques, and talking with them. By learning PCR and electrophoresis technique, Kleinman was able to approach to lab members, and being introduced into the lab ritual, such as Thursday afternoon Chinese take-out.
           However, as an ethnographer, author confesses that there were several conflicts during and after the research. For instance, Jo Handelsman criticized that Kleinman was “misunderstood by collegues”, and also “attention to intellectual property issues might make the lab seems greedy.” (p.25) To clarify that the purpose of ethnographic research was not to blame individual member or single lab, author introduces C. Wright Mills’ emphasis on structural factors. In other words, it is emphasized that the analysis on this book is on structural representation, which is beyond the control of any individuals.
           Thirdly, what is Handelsman laboratory? Author’s detailed illustration of Handelsman’s laboratory is inseparable from the intention to justify that his methodology and subject is thoroughly well designed to answer his own research question. Professor Handelsman was in the Department of Plant Pathology in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s CALS, and focusing on UW85, which could be used to prevent damping off and root rot of plants. Laboratory has several different kinds of meetings such as weekly lab meeting, journal club, and departmental seminars. Kleinman observed that lab budget management was the central issue of Handelsman’s laboratory, even though she highly committed to academic scholarship and education. She worried that “if the research does not progress, if the experiments do not succeed, if the publications and patents do not continue, neither will be finding.”
           Description of Handelsman’s lab directly goes to the final issue, which is to convince the readers why Kleinman’s ethnographic work on Handelsman’s lab is a promising project. Author argues that “I came to realize that the kinds of direct and ad hoc effects that influence university science only tell part of the story.” Handelsman’s laboratory was not place of compromising the scientific integrity by monetary concern, even though it was “structurally” exposed to the world of commerce. Thus, Kleinman soundly insists that if Handelsman’s lab is affected by the world of commerce, it could be an evidence that the subtle influence of industrial culture is pervasive and influential in university biology overall.

1.     Is it always best choice to emotionally strongly attach to subject of ethnographic research? How participatory researchers could balance between ‘outsider’ and ‘insider’?
2.     Author confesses that his initial assumption was partly changed during his research. In this sense, how much tentative argument or conclusion should we set at the beginning stage of the research? How can we utilize the serendipitous moment of research to articulate or reconfigure out initial assumption?
3.     What are advantages of ethnographic research? What could be possible alternative methodology of this book?
4. What are the most important roles of introduction chapter?

Katri Huutoniemi, "Evaluating interdisciplinary research"

There is little knowledge or consensus on how to evaluate interdisciplinary research, which does not seem to fit in well with the current system for producing scientific knowledge. The chapter by Katri Huutoniemi analyzes the key characteristics and challenges of interdisciplinary assessment by drawing insights from the conceptual and pragmatic discussions of interdisciplinary research, empirical analyses of evaluation activities, and initiatives and experiences of participating organizations. It introduces the central challenges involved in evaluating interdisciplinary research and focuses attention not on the criteria used to conduct interdisciplinary research, but on the perspectives used to evaluate it, and highlights the consequential role of both concepts and practices in defining merit: First, it shows how different conceptualizations of interdisciplinarity shape assumptions about quality; and second, it discusses how values are actively constructed by the people and practices involved. 

At the beginning of the chapter she defined a interdisciplinary as "a genus of integrative research activities that combine more than one discipline, field, or body of knowledge" and differentiate from the term transdiciplinary which refers to "trans-sector problem solving where various stakeholders in society are actively involved in knowledge production." 

Although interdisciplinary research is not easily amenable to evaluation, she valued the key functions of interdisciplinary research evaluation, which can be summarized as follows: 

  • needed for organizational learning and improvement of performance and quality of research activities
  • to bolster the credibility of research; it helps to legitimate research and its results
  • accountability and transparency in the use of public funds
  • not only for separating the qualified from the unqualified, but also for distinguishing between competing types of high-quality research 

Next, the author distinguished between three evaluative approaches to interdisciplinary research that "highlights some key features of interdisciplinary as a special type of challenge for research evaluation": (1) mastering multiple disciplines, (2) emphasizing integration and synergy, and (3) critiquing disciplinarity. 

(1) mastering multiple disciplines 

  • baseline for assessment: disciplinary originality or excellence
  • good interdisciplinary research must fulfill existing methodological requirements and theoretical standards
  • greater challenge for interdisciplinary scholars, because it's hard to be met expert and generalist criteria at the same time
  • reception problems, incompatibility of different disciplinary standards

(2) emphasizing integration and synergy

  • baseline for assessment: create a new model of excellence
  • need to combine knowledge resources in order to develop an integrated product
  • proponents of the view: within boundary-crossing organization, consultants, or practitioners

(3) critiquing disciplinarily

  • views disciplinarily and interdisciplinary as strongly opposed: interdisciplinary as the force that diverts the discipline-driven direction of knowledge production
  • undermine the prevailing status of disciplinary standards in the pursuit of a non-disciplinary, integrated knowledge system
  • difficulties of evaluating interdisciplinary research will not be overcome by creating new quality standards for that type of research, but by transforming the prevailing ethnocentrism and mutual ignorance between disciplines
  • quality judgment should be made by using external criteria but no recipe for how to do it

This framework helps to identify the relevant epistemic stakeholders, the functions and benefits of proposed research, as well as the methodological procedures for accomplishing the stated goals, which constitute the prerequisite for any evaluative act. It argues that these competing positions on interdisciplinarity shape assumptions about quality and how it should be evaluated, while the actual process of evaluation with various social, cognitive, and pragmatic aspects also plays an important role in quality judgments. 

Project Proposal - To Academia and Beyond: How Anthropology Markets to Undergraduates

According to the American Anthropological Association (AAA), “anthropologists can be found in a surprising array of fields and careers.”[1] An anthropology major is increasingly marketed as a “hot asset”[2] for a variety of career paths beyond the tenure and research track. In fact, the prospective careers for anthropology majors suggested by the AAA include more non-academic jobs than traditional anthropological positions. As the academic job market becomes increasingly competitive, it is possible that certain fields with less obvious non-academic applications must in turn increasingly justify their position to both the general public and student consumers. This type of justification marketing may be especially important for social scientific disciplines, especially given recent trends in government rhetoric and funding decisions.

This paper seeks to investigate how a variety of highly ranked anthropology programs are appealing to undergraduate students as a prospective major. This preliminary study will compile and analyze the publically available information from anthropology department websites to unveil both commonalities and variation in rhetoric and marketing strategy across campus types. In addition to collecting data from department specific websites, this research will seek to identify, if not analyze in detail, other sources of departmental marketing. These include the availability of physical marketing material for prospective anthropology majors, the existence of social media accounts for anthropology departments or departmental sections, and finally the occurrence of anthropological achievements discussed in institution news bulletins from the last academic year. Three institution types will be included in this research in order to more fully probe recent trends. These include public research universities, private research universities, and liberal arts colleges.

The following interrelated research questions will be investigated in detail:
1) How is the department structured?
2) How is the undergraduate major structured and presented?
3) How do department websites discuss post-graduate trajectories for majors?
4) How are undergraduate courses advertised in course descriptions?
5) Are common buzzwords invoked across departments?
6) What marketable skills are promised by departments?

Through an exploration of these various questions, this preliminary study will allow for the development of specific hypotheses and expectations that can in turn be tested at other institutions and potentially in other social scientific departments.

[2] Jones, Del. February 18, 1999. “Hot Asset in Corporate: Anthropology Degrees.” USA Today

Proposal: Taming the Wild for Market

Taming the Wild for Market: Scientific Agriculture of Wild Rice, 1959~1985
June Jeon

            Wild rice (Zizania aquatic and Zizania Palustrus) has been widely harvested in North America, especially by Ojibwa and Chippewa tribes in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Wild rice is grown in lake, so Native Indians have harvested wild rice manually on the canoe. Since the late 1950s, trials for systematic commercialization of wild rice resulted in adaptation of breeding technology to improve the productivity of wild rice. Erwin R. Brook, professor at the Institute of Agriculture of University of Minnesota, argued that “unimproved wild rice” should be improved as a commercial crop by making it to be planted in paddies rather than in lake. Moreover, he insisted that systematic development of the processing of wild rice is essential for the commercialization to enhance the yield efficiency of the production. [1] Simultaneously, University of Minnesota agronomist, Algot Johnson discovered several new types of wild rice, which was non-scattering and paddy-grown type, with breeding trials, and initiated the breeding research of wild rice. In 1972, University of Minnesota began the wild rice breeding program, and opened the Minnesota Paddy Wild Rice Research and Promotion Council.[2] University of Minnesota was not the only research institute, which was interested in wild rice research. University of Wisconsin’s Department of Food Science and Agronomy began the research for the scientific agriculture of wild rice partly supported by the Upper Great Lakes Regional Commission and Chief Industries, Inc., Hayward, Wisconsin in 1968. The research report was published as a ‘handbook’ for wild rice processors, with detailed experimental data on fermentation, parching, drying, hulling, and winnowing process of wild rice.[3]
            The prime motivation for researches was the market value of wild rice. University of Wisconsin’s research team wrote “even the most conservative estimates point to a bright future for the wild rice industry. (…) The high price for rice presently makes it a luxury food item for many customers.”[4] As a result of systematic development of wild rice, cultivated wild rice dominated the market, and the market share of uncultivated lake-grown wild rice began to be decreased drastically.

Figure 1. Wild Rice Production, 1968-1984[5]
      As total production was increased, the price per pound was exacerbated. From 1968 to 1984, total production of wild rice was increased from 0.69 million pounds to 6.69 million pounds, whereas wholesale price per pound was only slightly changed from $ 3.27 to $ 3.30. In sum, mass production and mass consumption mechanism of wild rice was enabled by food and agricultural scientists from universities, and was resulted in an asymmetric distribution of the benefit – huge advantage for large-scale farmers and food industry with ‘tamed’ wild rice, compare to relative alienation of Native Indian’s lake-grown wild rice from the market.
            This research is a historical case study of scientific research of wild rice agriculture by two universities – University of Wisconsin and University of Minnesota. These two universities share the similarity in a sense that both were founded as a land-granted university to serve state residents. Considering the fact that majority of economic structure of both states have been relied on agriculture and dairy products, the case of wild rice research by these two universities highlights their role as a public university.
            By shedding light on the wild rice story, this research attempts to widen the current discussion on Mode 2 knowledge. According to Gibbon et al, “Mode 2 knowledge is created in broader, transcisciplinary social and economic contexts.”[6] In other words, from the beginning, knowledge production in Mode 2 regime is responsible for the needs of various social actors, so that shapes the knowledge by diverse intellectual and social demands. In words of Hessels and Lente, Mode 2 knowledge has the characteristics of heterogeneity, reflexivity, and social accountability, whereas traditional Mode 1 regime is categorized by homogeneity and autonomy.[7]
            Even though Mode 2 framework captures the important aspect of modern research system, many scholars have criticized that such framework lacks the empirical evidence. (detail references) Thus, Mode 2 framework is better to be understood as a general prediction on tendency rather than normative framework about the past and future of university.
            Indeed, constructive question is “how much knowledge production system has been heterogeneous, reflexive, and socially accountable?” rather than asking whether the Mode 2 framework is empirically warranted or not. Multiple components of Mode 2 theory should be used as meaningful perspectives to analyze the knowledge production system, not merely to falsify the framework per se. In this context, this research aims to shed light on an asymmetric power structure that initiates and utilizes the research program. What is lacking in Mode 2 framework is the micro level analysis on how the specific research agenda is shaped under which context of various actors with asymmetric interests and powers, and the implications of possible consequences of it.
            I will argue that even the needs for research program is not always inherent in university scholars in Mode 2 framework, the specific structure of needs by the various actors represents the actual power asymmetry among the different social entities, such as farmers, manufacturers, industries, and local minorities. Moreover, not only the motivation of the research, but also the utilization of the knowledge is in line with uneven power structure, which results in asymmetric distribution of outcomes.

Brief contents:
1.     Minnesota Paddy Wild Rice Research and Promotion Council and development of paddy-grown wild rice: Breeding technology and needs of food industry
2.     Standardization and quantification for wild ricers: processing wild rice for market
3.     Asymmetric consequences
4.     Conclusion

Note - Things to think: (puzzles)

1)    How to show the asymmetric structure of needs? How can I effectively reveal the story that strong needs of manufacturers overshadowed the needs of Native Indian community? How dynamically?
2)    Not intending to describe university as a research factory, which performs the D to P. How to avoid such trap?
3)    About science: Standardization and quantification – inherent characteristics of science, and its inevitably close relationship with market mechanism: how can I incorporate this story to urge the needs of inclusive meaning of knowledge?
-       Different kinds of scientific knowledge for Native Indian communities? (science for quality control and storage vs. science for large scale farming and manufacturing)
4)    Academic capitalism – asymmetric geography of power structure
5)    Consequence – How can I use the story of industry’s use of word ‘wild’ as rhetoric in my story?
6)    However, I am not trying to romanticize the Native Indian’s wild rice!
7)    Do I have to find the interaction between Minnesota and Wisconsin as well?

[1] Erwin R. Brooks, A Survey of the Current and Potential Wild Rice Production, Process, and Marketing on the White Earth, Nett Lake, and Red Lake Indian Reservations in Minnesota, and the Mole Lake and Bad River Indian Reservation in Wisconsin, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, Institute of Agriculture, University of Minnesota, 1964, p. 5~14
[2] Claude E. Titus, “Wild Rice: Delicious, Nutritious, Aquatic Grass”, The Minnesota Volunteer, September-October 1985, p. 13
[3] Wild Rice Processors’ Handbook, Department of Food Science and Agronomy, University of Wisconsin – Extension, 1972
[4] Ibid, p.90
[5] Ronald N. Nelson and Reynold P. Dahl, “Wild Rice Market Shows Vigorous Growth”, Minnesota Agricultural Economist, September 1985, p. 1
[6] Michael Gibbons et al, The New Production of Knowledge: The Dynamics of Science and Research in Contemporary Societies (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1994), p. 1
[7] Laurens K. Hessels and Harro van Lente, "Re-thinking new knowledge production: A literature review and a research agenda," Research Policy 37 (2008), pp. 740-760