How and when humans first colonised North America is a question that has long puzzled researchers. A groundbreaking new study by BU academics has shed new light on patterns of migration and reveals that humans may have reached the Americas 7,000 years earlier than previously thought.
The study, written by Professor Matthew Bennett and Dr Sally Reynolds and published in Science today, reveals that human footprints discovered in New Mexico date from 23,000 and 21,000 years old. The discovery has the potential to radically change our understanding of when the continent was settled and suggests that there is much still to be discovered about migrations and earlier populations in this part of the world.
The footprints were left in soft mud on the shores of what was once a shallow lake which now forms part of Alkali Flat – a large playa (a dried desert lake) at White Sands, New Mexico with the tracks seeming to be left mainly by teenagers and younger children. Seeds found in layers of sediment above and below the footprints were radiocarbon dated by the US Geological Survey, providing the research team with very precise dates for the footprints themselves.
Professor Bennett said: “The footprints left at White Sands give a picture of what was taking place, teenagers interacting with younger children and adults. We can think of our ancestors as quite functional, hunting and surviving, but what we see here is also activity of play, and of different ages coming together. A true insight into these early people.”
The pioneering research has been featured heavily in the media this morning with front page links on BBC News, The Times, The Guardian and many other media channels.
Science is viewed as one of the most prestigious academic journals with competition to be published so intense that less than 7% of submissions are accepted. Professor Bennett and Dr Reynold’s groundbreaking article highlights their decades of hard work and expertise in paleontology, human evolution and environmental & geographical sciences.
Academia has become more demanding than twenty years ago, particularly, the job outwith university. Just this morning I received three requests to review a paper. Each from a very reputable journal and a each a legitimate requests, i.e. I asking me to assess a paper in a my academic field.
Reviewing papers and grant applications is, of course, part of my academic responsibilities, and hence part of my scholarly practice. But I am already reviewing five NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) grant applications this weekend, as well as an other paper for BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, and there are two PhD theses next my bed which I need to exam. On top of this I have been ignoring several reminder invitations to review a research proposal for the Croatian Science Foundation, as I simply do not have time to do so, however, much I would like to do so.
The forthcoming REF 2021 is not helping. UK academics are frantically submitting their manuscripts to academic journals to have them in print before the end of 2020, to beat the REF 2021 deadline. The flip-side of this reviewing coin is that my collaborators and I have had three papers turned down in the past year by a reputable journal as it could not find appropriate reviewers. Three articles on three very different aspects of our work, one a UK-based study, one a European study and one a study based in Nepal. For two of these manuscripts the journal took nearly a year to come back to us, wasting the chance to submit the paper elsewhere.
Perhaps it is due the rose-tinted spectacles of looking at the past, perhaps is it simply my level of seniority (compared to twenty years ago) but I don’t think so. The underlying trend is that the volume of papers submitted to journals is growing faster than the number of academics volunteering to review. This blog is, therefor, also a call for my academic colleagues to step up and agree to review on (extra) paper. Interestingly, I made a not dissimilar call in a BU Research Blog eight years ago! Unfortunately, the overall situation has not improved.
I haven’t even mentioned the exponential growth in email requests to academics submit papers to so-called predatory journals! I counted 15 requests in the past two days alone and it is only 10 AM on Saturday morning so more to follow later today.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
Yesterday ResearchGate announced that the paper ‘Academic authorship: who, why and in what order?’  has been read 1000 times. The paper addresses two related issues in academic writing: (a) authorship; and (b) order of authors. The issue of authorship centres on the notion of who can be an author, who should be an author and who definitely should not be an author. The paper reminds the reader that this is partly discipline specific. The second issue, the order of authors, is usually dictated by the academic tradition from which the work comes. One can immediately envisage disagreements within a multi-disciplinary team of researchers where members of the team may have different approaches to authorship order. Prof. Vanora Hundley is the lead author and the paper is co-authored with Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen, both in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH), and BU Visiting Professor Padam Simkhada. Padam is Professor of International Public Health in the Public Health Institute at Liverpool John Moores University.
Paper by Hundley et al. published 2013
This paper is part of a larger set of papers by academic in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences addressing various aspects of academic writing and publishing. Many of these papers are in Open Access journals, hence easily available across the globe for anybody with an internet connection. The series has covered papers on selecting an appropriate title for an academic paper, the role of the journal editor, the publication process and many more [2-9].
- Hundley, V, van Teijlingen, E, Simkhada, P (2013) Academic authorship: who, why and in what order? Health Renaissance 11(2):98-101 www.healthrenaissance.org.np/uploads/Download/vol-11-2/Page_99_101_Editorial.pdf
- Pitchforth, E, Porter M, Teijlingen van E, Keenan Forrest, K.. (2005) Writing up & presenting qualitative research in family planning & reproductive health care, J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care 31(2): 132-135.
- Hall, J., Hundley, V., van Teijlingen, E. (2015) The journal editor: friend or foe? Women & Birth 28(2): e26-e29.
- Simkhada P, van Teijlingen E, Hundley V. (2013) Writing an academic paper for publication, Health Renaissance 11(1):1-5. www.healthrenaissance.org.np/uploads/Pp_1_5_Guest_Editorial.pdf
- van Teijlingen, E., Ireland, J., Hundley, V., Simkhada, P., Sathian, B. (2014) Finding the right title for your article: Advice for academic authors, Nepal J Epidemiol 4(1): 344-347.
- van Teijlingen E., Hundley, V., Bick, D. (2014) Who should be an author on your academic paper? Midwifery 30: 385-386.
- van Teijlingen, E, Simkhada, PP, Rizyal A (2012) Submitting a paper to an academic peer-reviewed journal, where to start? (Guest Editorial) Health Renaissance 10(1): 1-4.
- van Teijlingen, E, Simkhada. PP, Simkhada, B, Ireland J. (2012) The long & winding road to publication, Nepal J Epidemiol 2(4): 213-215 http://nepjol.info/index.php/NJE/article/view/7093/6388
- Pradhan, AK, van Teijlingen, ER. (2017) Predatory publishing: a great concern for authors, Med Sci 5(4): 43.
Dr. Pramod Regmi, FHSS Lecturer in International Health has been appointed as an Editorial Board Member for the Journal of Global Health Reports. This journal is affiliated with the Journal of Global Health (www.jogh.org). The Journal of Global Health Reports focuses on “Promoting local research to improve global health” It is open to all local, small-scale, context-specific studies in global health, both qualitative and quantitative, as long as they are conducted in a rigorous and replicable way and report their results properly.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
Through immediate internal publication and open peer review, eBU is ideally placed to support the developmental needs of authors at any career stage, and I’m pleased to say that, so far, the 2014 issue has seen a levels of engagement from across the career spectrum. eBU has had two working paper submissions so far in 2014 (and there are plenty more in the archived 2013 issue!).
Firstly, under the Lifelong Health and Wellbeing theme, Sheetal Sharma (HSC) and colleagues submitted a paper titled Eliciting Nepali women’s views on childbirth and the newborn. A full text file of this paper has been openly reviewed and can be viewed here – http://ebu/index.php/ebu/article/view/17. I understand Sheetal has just submitted this paper to an external journal, so best of luck and we await with great excitement to hear the outcome!
Secondly, under the Education, Learning and Practice theme, Jonathan Williams (again HSC) has submitted a paper titled Is student knowledge of anatomy affected by a Problem-Based Learning approach? A full text file of this paper can be read here – http://ebu/index.php/ebu/article/view/24.
eBU was also delighted to be able to support outputs from the 2014 PGR conference, and a number of PGRs have decided to use eBU to showcase their work. Why not take a look at the following abstracts and posters:
Business, Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth
Alice Bonasio – PGR Conf 2014 Abstract: Customer Engagement Through Crowd-Funding and Social Media: http://ebu/index.php/ebu/article/view/21
Lifelong Health and Wellbeing
Ben Hicks – PGR Conf 2014 Abstract: Using commercial computer game technology to benefit men with dementia residing in rural areas of Dorset: http://ebu/index.php/ebu/article/view/19
Sheetal Sharma – PGR Conf 2014 Abstract: Pregnant and ‘dirty’ for 40 days: A qualitative study of childbirth practice, beliefs and myths in Nepal: http://ebu/index.php/ebu/article/view/20
Jonny Branney – PGR Conf 2014 Abstract: Is spinal manipulation associated with changes in cervical inter-vertebral motion?: http://ebu/index.php/ebu/article/view/23
Research Methods and Practice
Jenny Roddis – PGR Conf 2014 Poster: Experience of interviewing: face-to-face vs. telephone: http://ebu/index.php/ebu/article/view/22
Technology & Design
Manuel Salvador – PGR Conf 2014 Poster: Automating Data Pre-processing for Online and Dynamic Processes in the Chemical Industry: http://ebu/index.php/ebu/article/view/18
Professor Jens Hölscher of the Business School’s article on ‘Wage inequality, labour market flexibility and duality in Eastern and Western Europe ’ has been recognised as one of the most-read articles from Post-Communist Economies Journal!
The article has been made FREE until the end of May 2014 and you can access it here.
I opened by ‘ideas book’ full of random notes and reminders of things that I should have done ages ago just now and found a small yellow, innocent looking post-it with the words ‘PGR & ECR journal?’ Do I hear a stampede of volunteers to get this off the ground? We could fund this and make it happen via the Fusion Investment Fund if there is an interest, may be even call the journal ‘Fusion’ if the title has not already been taken!
Over the last few years I have talked to several people about the idea of an internal journal to help PGR students – doctoral and masters – publish. There are also some cracking undergraduate dissertations each year which could be published as well via such a vehicle. Internal journals are also ideal places for Early Career Researchers (ECR) to try out and develop new ideas before launching them on the big journals. I believe for example that the Business School has recently set up a working paper series which is a similar concept.
So what I have in mind is a BU journal – Fusion – which is managed by a small editorial board of PGR students and staff publishing material online with full internal peer review. Papers could either be visible internally only or externally depending on whether staff/students plan to publish it in an external journal later. We could form the scope in such a way as to embrace research, education and practice and therefore live up to the name of Fusion. It could also be a place to share ideas and showcase the work of our students, early career researchers and to try out new ideas.
If this is to get off the ground I need an energetic champion(s) who fancies taking this forward with my full support, and financial backing, as well as volunteers to join an editorial board and any idea or thought around this concept would be welcome to add into the mix. I look forward to hearing from you!