The Nine Circles of Circular Thought at Springer Publishing

Dear Instructor,
Unfortunately, no more free examination copies of this title are available for trial.
If you have adopted the book as required reading for your course, you are entitled to receive a complimentary desk copy with your adoption order. Please talk to your bookseller for details.
With kind regards,
FN Response:
Well, I won’t be adopting it if I haven’t read it so that is a bit circular, and if lecturers had to buy every book available to find the best one we’d be bankrupt


Quick, but incomplete, guide to Psychology publishers

Having flagrantly abused the inspection copy policy of academic publishers over the last year I’ve learned a quick rule of thumb for some publishers when looking for certain types of books.

Sage: If you want an excellent selection of research methods & statistics books this is the house to check out first. They have excellent intro books and ones for more advanced users. A bit US-centric though.

Palgrave McMillan: Apparently known as the “premier” academic publishing house, they do fantastic books for lay audiences, and some wonderful “controversial” mental health books (i.e., they piss all over the biomedical model, so immediately gets an A+ from me). If you are interested in social psychiatry, this is the place to go.

Wiley: Does some wonderful specialist books, especially on forensic psychology, as well as what I call the “belts-and-braces” books (i.e., the massive door stoppers that provide wide coverage of an area; the type of book you buy in first year and does you for your entire degree). However, on the latter point, they tend to dodge controversy or do a poor job of providing alternative theories to mainstream ones, and rather uncritically accept mainline theories (i.e., beware the dogma!), and some of their BPS Blackwell books are shockingly bad (and with errors!).

The above houses also have super friendly sales staff. Obviously, it is in their interest to get you to recommend one of their books, but I have found them to be genuinely helpful in recommending books I’d never heard off, and they don’t pester you to recommend.

Penguin: Hands out inspection copies like they are made from fairy dust and unicorn horn (i.e., ye cannae get them), so I’m unlikely ever to read one or recommend one! I don’t actually know why an academic would publish with them if they aren’t willing to hand out inspection copies.


There are obviously tonnes of academic publishing houses, but these are the one’s I’ve had sufficient dealing with (or not, in the case of Penguin) to be able to form an opinion on.

Are journals’ publishing practices (partly) responsible for academic fraud?

You know something is bad when even your taxi driver knows about it….

Apparently, psychology has a problem with scientific fraud at the moment, as Jens Forster at Amsterdam is the latest to have the finger pointed at him.

This doesn’t look good for social psychology or Holland.

But it isn’t just social psychology that this is a problem for, it is a potential problem for psychology as a whole and for science in general.

Forster claims that he is the victim of a witch hunt. While I don’t know whether this is true, it can sometimes be the case. I’ve known two people accused of fraud who have been cleared. In one case, this person has literally been stalked by his accuser for the best part of 2 decades, with trivial complaints regularly registered and investigated for which none of them have been upheld. This is a particular problem if you are publishing in a very fraught field with factions. If they can’t poke holes in your theory, they can now come gunning for you personally and undermine your reputation.

The Forster case also makes me wonder whether some of these accusations are a case of the “file drawer problem”. You run 10 experiments and only 2 produce significant differences….which ones do you think will end up published? You run 30, 10 work out, but a smaller number produce really clear cut neat data….which ones do you choose to publish?

While this is of questionable practice, and researchers need a slap on the hand for it, it is rampant, and it is encouraged by journals refusing to send articles out for review that do not find significant findings. It is this latter issue which encourages only the “best looking” data to get published and for rather parochial views of findings to occur that give an incomplete view.

So, I’m placing the blame at the door of journals. Although they don’t, obviously, have a policy for only publishing good looking data, it is pretty explicit. I myself had reviewers comment that they don’t want my article published because the data is “messy”. Well, yes, data regularly is messy, but that is because I haven’t massaged or manipulated it. Data is what it is, and when it isn’t, it’s been fudged in some ways. Likewise, reviewers have declined to recommend publication because the data is nonsignificant, or doesn’t fully support a theory, because some of the assumptions were not supported. If journals weren’t so parochial in their approach many of these issues would not be occurring now. We are reaping the whirlwind of decades of poor journal policy.

Perhaps I am naive or overly optimistic, but I’m not inclined to think fraud is rampant in science. Yes, poor research practices are, but out and out fraud, I certainly hope not (although only 14% of medical research can be replicated…so if you want to point the finger anywhere, look there first!).

Some universities are trying to provide space on campus to store data for the foreseeable future. This seems like a good idea. What with the pressure on space on campuses holding onto large data sets (which table top psychology experiments with lots of participants produce oodles of it), there needs to be some way of storing this data. Most academic offices can only contain so much of it before it either goes in the trash or makes its way to the academics home for storage in the attic, which they shouldn’t have to do).

Meanwhile, I will be renaming all my excel files with something more meaningful than Book1…..

The price of academic textbooks

My travails through THE over the past few weeks has identified the age old problem in academia. What’s a textbook worth?

When I was a student 20 years ago textbooks were around £25-30. Prices haven’t changed much. But in my day I lived on £30 a week, so buying the textbook recommended by a lecturer was a big commitment. And photocopier cards were £5 for 70 sheets, and I got through 2 a week.

In this day and age with the size of the loans on offer to students (students note: your loans are very generous and if you can’t live on them, then get rid of your mobile and Virgin TV package), this is not so much an issue.

But, are textbooks worth £30?

There are, of course, some absolutely invaluable ones that are thick weighty tomes in more ways than one.

But THE list some books that cost over £40 for less than 300 pages. E-versions are slightly less.

If, as an author, you have any hope of getting onto a reading list, then pricing your book this high is a big No No. I know I certainly take it into consideration.

And why can I buy a kindle book for about a quarter/fifth of the full price of the hard copy but e-versions of textbooks are only marginally cheaper? Probably because all the money at the publishing houses is being pumped into the e-versions. So, lots of middle managers’ wages!

I recently tried out my first ever e-version as an inspection copy. I was only given 180 days to view it, and the site was completely inaccessible. Tiny fonts, lots of scrolling right and left, down and up (if you’ve ever tried the e-version of Metro and found yourself in online hell, it is pretty similar).

I complained to the publisher that this version was unacceptable. No reply, but they sent me a hard copy instead.

Given the mega bucks that are being spent on e-versions I was most unimpressed.

We don’t want online versions, we want PDFs that we can download, chapter by chapter. The lecturers want this and I suspect that the students do to. This would be a much cheaper solution.

Researchers who publish but won’t review

Dear Professor Pain in the Hole

You have declined to review any manuscripts that we have sent to you and, now, you have requested that your name be removed from our reviewer database.

While you are perfectly entitled to do so we, in turn, request that you remove any reference to being an expert in your area from your website. This will prevent any further contact from associate editors who mistakenly think you are an expert in your area.

We also request that you cease sending us your manuscripts to review. Any further submissions will lead to us contacting you to tell you to Go Fuck Yourself.

Our suggestion is that if you do not wish to review for journals that you stop publishing with immediate effect.

Your research was pants anyway.

Yours Infuriatingly

Flipin Nora