May 31, 2012
@9:50 PM

Some musings on the Ivory Tower, academic publishing and life in general

Sometimes I wonder if the publication of academic papers might be very similar to the process of exchanging letters between various ivory towers, given that it is far from clear to me that anyone else bothers to read such papers, particularly as most academic papers are sequestered behind the pay-walls of the publishing industry. In other words, one can spend inordinate amounts of time writing and publishing papers that are not accessible to the general public and thus do not bring about any real changes to the system. I sometimes also think that publishing a paper is akin to dropping a penny down a well. It gives one satisfaction to hear the plunk of the penny in the water below, but then one never hears from the penny again. :)

and some notable quotes:

“limitations of theory may not be revealed when the facts are too few” – Knox 1958

“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” – Max Planck 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”  –Theodore Roosevelt, American 26th US President (1901-09), 1858-1919