December 17, 2008
Keeping Track of References
One of the great problems that modern scholars have is keeping track of all the references that might go into one's articles and books. EndNote is a wonderful help for that part of the scholar's task. Today's column in the New York Times by Professor Olivia Judson of Imperial College, London -- normally her blog is on evolutionary biology -- contains a pitch for two programs that will help to keep track of all the references that can turn up on the Internet: Zotero (which is free) for the PC and Papers (which is available for $40) for the Apple. There are links in the article to the sites from which to download both programs. I've used Zotero for a few days and find it very easy to use and very helpful.
December 16, 2008
When a university department hires an entry-level candidate to be an assistant professor, the members of the department frequently have widely different views of whether the new assistant professor will be a successful researcher, an engaging teacher, and a valued colleague. This very general problem of predicting success is the subject of a wonderful piece in this week's New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell, "Most Likely to Succeed: How Do We Hire When We Can't Tell Who's Right for the Job?" The article is available here, in the magazines "Annals of Education." The article compares the difficulties of predicting who will be a good elementary school teacher (with the difference between good and bad teachers being demonstrably huge) and a good NFL quarterback. Very highly recommended.
December 6, 2008
Social Disorder and Crime
Here's a fascinating article from The Economist, describing experiments done by Dutch researchers on the relationship between social disorder and crime. This is an attempt to explore the "broken windows" hypothesis of Kelling and Wilson, who held that when there is patent evidence in a neighborhood that no one is paying attention or cares for the well-being of the properties in that neighborhood, crime will be more likely to take place. The Dutch experiments find very significant increases in the amount of crime when it appears to be the case that social order in the neighborhood has broken down. Highly recommended.