Monday, January 31, 2011

Leadership, Social Capital and Incentives Promote Successful Fisheries

A paper in Nature by Nicolas Gutierrez et al. carries out a meta-analysis of the literature on fisheries management. 130 fisheries are included. The aim was to test whether community co-management can promote sustainability as argued by Ostrom and others. They coded success of the fishery according to number of social, ecological and economic outcomes achieved and also counted the number of various "co-management" attributes associated with each fishery. The results look almost too good to be true:

Above a threshold level of co-management attributes there is a tight linear relationship between the number of success attributes and the number of co-management attributes. It looks almost too good to be true but would be a strong vindication for Ostrom.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Citation Index

Thomson Reuters is adding a "Book Citation Index" to the Web of Science. With the exception of some book series, up till now if your book publication was cited in a journal covered by the Web of Science that citation to your work was included in the Citation Index. But citations to your work in books, even from prestigious presses such as Cambridge were not included. The main source I currently use for these is Google Scholar and Google Books. At launch 25,000 books will be indexed including Edward Elgar books from 2007 onwards.

Books are much more important in the humanities and some social sciences than in most natural sciences. In economics books are important in economic history in particular as well as I think in ecological economics to some degree. This expanded coverage is good news for researchers in these areas.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cold Fusion Again?

I still remember how excited I was back in 1989 when the original claim of achieving of cold fusion was made. I remember sitting in the communal kitchen where I lived in North London and excitedly telling someone about how important it might be if it was real. They were surprised that I was excited about this one news item. Tiananmen Square and the fall of the Berlin Wall were to come later that year.

Anyway, the claims couldn't be consistently replicated. But now some Italian scientists claim to have achieved cold fusion. By fusing nickel and hydrogen atoms. They claim a 12.4kW output from a 400W electricity input. They make a bunch of other claims. Their paper has so far not passed peer-review. Of course, I'm much more skeptical of outlandish claims after the first cold fusion debacle. Additionally, my understanding was that fusion only released energy for fusion of atoms less or equal to the atomic mass of iron. Producing copper requires energy. So this claim seems particularly out there.

ARC Releases New Discovery Program Instructions

A couple of weeks ago the ARC released the new funding rules for this years grant applications. Now they have finally released the instructions for this year's applications. The main change that I have noticed so far are:

1. Instead of separate sections on "Significance and Innovation" and "Approach and Methodology" in the Project Description (Section C) there is simply a section titled "Research Project".

2. There is a new section titled "Research Environment" which includes the previous communication section and includes a description of the research environment at the institution the grant will be held at and how the project fits organization's strategic research plan.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A New Index from Jorge Hirsch: h-bar

Jorge Hirsch is a physicist at the University of California, San Diego who is mostly famous (outside physics at least) for inventing the h-index. A scholar's h-index is the number of his or her academic papers that have received at least h citations. It has become popular in large I think because it is easy to compute using Google Scholar or the ISI citation index. The main obstacles to computation are:

1. Distinguishing between different authors with the same name (a real challenge for Chinese and Korean authors especially as ISI only index papers using the initials of first names - there are a lot of S Liu's (my wife's name) out there for example).

2. Tracking down all the citations to a paper which were incorrectly referenced. A big problem. But to compute the h-index you only need to do this for the papers that have a a citation number close to the author's h-index.

In a paper in Scientometrics Hirsch proposes a new index that is supposed to address the issue of coauthorship. This index is called h-bar and is defined as:

"the number of papers of an individual that have citation count larger than or equal to the h-bar of all coauthors of each paper"

Getting your head around what this means is much harder and in order to compute it you need to get the data for computing the h-index for all of an author's coauthors. So, I don't think this will be as popular as the h-index until the two problems I note above are solved satisfactorily.

An example will help explain what h-bar means. Here are some of Shuang's more cited papers. The top four of these papers would contribute to her Google Scholar h-index. But none of these papers contribute to her h-bar index because they all have fewer citations than Costanza's h-index, which is somewhere around 70. Hirsch notes that the h-bar index for junior researchers tends to be much lower than their h-index while for senior stars they tend to be much closer to each other. He also suggests averaging the two to get a number that is fairer to junior researchers.

My paper coauthored with Costanza has received fewer citations than my h-index. So coauthoring with Costanza doesn't reduce my h-bar-index. I think my h-index and h-bar index are quite close. A couple of papers coauthored with Charles Perrings and Robert Kaufmann might drop out of my "h-bar core" because they got enough citations to contribute to my h-index but not to my co-authors' h-indices.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Early Bird Registration Extended to 29th January

If you are interested in sustainability and cities you might be interested in attending this conference to be held next month in Melbourne. Early bird registration has been extended. Visit the conference website to register.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Appointment in Crawford School

As of today I am an associate professor * in the Crawford School at ANU though only for the duration of 2011 at the moment. I'll be moving to the Crawford Building some time soon. In the coming semester I am teaching POGO 8016 The Economic Way of Thinking I, which is part of the Graduate Diploma in Policy and Governance program.

* This rank is equivalent to full professor in the US system or at UWA.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Limits to Craziness

Should some academic papers not be published just because they seem too crazy? There is an interesting debate in the New York Times about whether a psychology paper claiming experimental evidence for people being able to predict supposedly random future events should have been published or not. I am in favor of papers that use solid methods being published, however, crazy the hypothesis that they investigate. The more extreme the idea though perhaps the smaller the claims they should make about the results. So I think the real question about this paper is whether the methods are sound or not. And a lot of the debate is around that.

This guy though thinks that papers that try to test too crazy ideas shouldn't be published. Then he gives an example of an imaginary study that would test whether more accidents happen on the 13th of each month. Clearly, he doesn't think like an economist (and I'm shocked to see that he is a cognitive scientist). If people think a day is unlucky that might change their behavior resulting in more accidents. Or less. But it is certainly plausible. So that is not a good example.

Another question is whether journals should only publish papers that they think are "interesting". Top journals in economics only publish papers that they think are interesting in addition to being correct. By contrast PLoS ONE claims to publish anything with sound methodology regardless of "interest". Of course, as an open access online only journal they have a financial incentive to publish more papers. I am surprised that if this is really the case that they have a pretty decent citation impact factor. The problem with only publishing interesting papers is that it can lead to bias in the scientific literature.

Friday, January 7, 2011

And Today a New Lighting Technology...

Another new technology to report on: lighting using cathode ray tube type technology. The claim is that it is cheaper than LEDs and safer than fluorescents.

China Meets Goal of Reducing Energy Intensity by 20% from 2005 to 2010

China claims that the goal of reducing energy intensity by 20% over 5 years has been met. The article should state BTW that energy intensity was cut 14.4% "by" 2009 not "in" 2009. A lot of us were skeptical that China could achieve this target. Two things helped achieve the target:

1. Revisions to GDP that resulted in the growth rate of GDP in the earlier years of the period being revised up.

2. The blackouts and plant shutdowns described in the article. It's not clear if the plants were temporarily or permanently closed. But the lights will definitely go back on for the moment.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

ARC Releases Funding Rules for 2012 Discovery Program

The ARC has released the new rules for projects starting in January 2012. The deadline for applying is 21 March 2011. The rules have been significantly changed and much simplified. The new document is about 1/3 the length of the old one. The main change is the introduction of "Discovery Outstanding Research Awards" (DORA - not to be confused with Dora the Explorer :)). These replace the Australian Professorial Fellowships (APF) but are offered at salary grades equivalent to levels C, D, and E. Level A and B applicants should apply through the new separate Early Career Award (detailed rules not yet released). There are no criteria for being eligible to apply for a DORA except those that apply to being able to apply for as a chief investigator on the project. The APF only paid 50% of salary unless a bunch of criteria were met or an exemption was approved. The new fellowships are also for only 3 years versus 5 years and are only awarded at 100% of salary.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Artificial Photosynthesis

Interesting innovation - solar furnace that uses sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water to carbon monoxide and hydrogen. These are necessary inputs in the Fischer-Tropsch process of synthesizing liquid hydrocarbons. So, this is effectively artificial photosynthesis. At the moment, the efficiency is no better than plant-based photosynthesis and the reactors would be more expensive than harvesting crops presumably. But with efficiency gains this might be a viable way to generate liquid fuels for aircraft and other applications where current electric technologies are not viable. Seems that it is one more nail in the coffin of the "hydrogen economy". Separating the low density hydrogen here would make no sense, I think. An article in Science provides details.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Nighttime Image of Beijing and Tianjin from the International Space Station

Another cool (?) image from NASA. Taken by an astronaut aboard the space station, hence the oblique angle.

December 2010 Report on CCEP Working Papers

The CCEP Working Papers Series is off to a nice start in terms of downloads through RePEc. Total downloads for December were 292 with 171 abstract views. A lot of the downloads were generated by the NEP reports that the papers appeared in, which is why some papers have more downloads than abstract views. The sustainable rate of downloads will likely not be so high for those papers. Peter Wood's paper was the 25th most downloaded working paper on RePEc in December and CCEP was ranked 213th among economics working paper series globally in terms of downloads and 2nd in the World when measured by downloads per item!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

CO2 Regulated from Today in the U.S.

From tomorrow, the EPA is regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Climate Progress has some good information on what is happening as does the New York Times. It is hard to say at this what will happen in the long-run. Most states seem to be cooperating with the EPA though Texas refuses. There is a lot of legal action in progress to try to stop the regulation. And there is a high probability that the Republicans will win the next presidential election in the US in 2012. If that happens who knows why might happen.

Most Popular Posts of 2010

In case you missed one of my more popular posts from 2010, I'm kicking off 2011 with a list of the top ten hits. Actually, I saw a bunch of other much bigger bloggers doing this and was curious what my most popular posts were:

1. iamscientist. People are obviously very interested in learning more about this science social networking site.

2. 2009 Journal Citation Report Released. And people want to know which journals are highly ranked. Quite a few people asked me in e-mail to send the whole report. That's not possible.

3. Energy Mix and Energy Intensity. Part of my serialization of this paper.

4. The Ecological Economics Critique. Another part of my serialization of this paper.

5. ERA Ranked Journal List is Out. As well as the ranking by ISI people were interested in the Australian Research Council's ranking.

6. World Trade Report 2010.

7. The Rebound Effect. Yet another part of my serialization of this paper.

8. researchgate. Another social networking site.

9. New Controversy on Malaria and Climate Change. The paper on this topic is under review. I haven't put out a working paper version as it's not really an economics paper and working papers aren't the done thing in biology.

10. Job Talk Abstract. Everyone wants to know how to do a job talk. Unfortunately, they won't get much info at this post! This post is more useful.