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Historians Seek a Delay In Posting Dissertations


IRST came years of being a foot messenger in New York City and working in data entry. Then, frustrated with his life, and feeling the responsibility of providing for a child, Michael D. Hattem entered the Borough of Manhattan Community College the only college that would admit him, he says, as a high school dropout with a G.E.D. He succeeded at community college, and, in 2011, graduated from City College. Today, Mr. Hattem, 38, is a graduate student at Yale working on a dissertation in American history that explores the role of competing historical memories of 17th-century Britain in shaping late colonial political culture. He told his exceptional story to help explain why he came to the defense of the American Historical Association last week when it issued a statement calling on universities to allow newly minted Ph.Ds to embargo their dissertations for up to six years that is, keep them from being circulated online. Though policies vary from university to university, the practice increasingly is to require that dissertations be filed electronically upon acceptance and to provide them to anyone with access to a universitys online collection. The statement, which appeared to come out of the blue, caused more than a few doubletakes. Dont historians want their research to be immediately shared, stimulating arguments and, ideally, new research that either refutes or reinforces those arguments? And why would someone work years to produce a dissertation and then insist that it not be seen for as many as six more years? Academics almost by definition are delayed-gratification specialists, but still. Ideally, I would want all of our work freely available, Mr. Hat-

Fears that widespread access hurts chances at publishing a book.

tem said in a telephone interview, but we have to deal with the way things are. And the way things are, he said, is that university presses are known to be skeptical about agreeing to publish a book when the Ph.D dissertation it is based on is readily available online. If you want tenure at a university, you have to publish a book, he said. Its professional currency. This term, embargo so common in how journalism doles out information in the digital age perhaps is evidence that some academics are learning from journalists: readers simply have less interest in old news, even old news about the British colonies. The historical association, which is based in Washington and has 14,000 members, including high school teachers, government historians and university professors, was inspired to act, officials said, because of simmering concerns that institutions were moving to require that students work be shared freely. I have heard from junior scholars, newly minted Ph.Ds, I have heard from my colleagues who are mentors to these younger scholars, from university press acquisition editors, who say we are very happy you released this statement, said Jacqueline Jones, a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin, who is the vice president of the professional division at the historical association. Critics of the embargo argue that knowledge should circulate freely on the Internet. In this case, they say that if incentives in academic hiring discourage such sharing, then the American His-

torical Association should agitate to change those incentives, not promote the idea of embargoes. The idea of locking up ideas for six years is not right, said Heather Joseph, the executive director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, which favors open research. The thing that bothered us the most is that it was a one-dimensional response to a multidimensional issue, and a missed opportunity. The association has tried to frame the issue as giving scholars a choice, while also noting that it has pressed for greater inclusion of digital-based scholarship. Questions and answers published in response to criticism tried to lower the stakes. Is the A.H.A. recommending that students embargo their dissertations? was the first question, and No was the first answer, with the explainer, The A.H.A. is recommending that universities adopt flexible policies that will allow newly minted Ph.Ds to decide for themselves whether or not to embargo their dissertations. Despite this clear explanation of motive and intention, a lot of fogginess remains in the arguments from all sides, beginning with the central question: Do university presses really care if a dissertation is available when they are publishing a thoroughly revised work years later? A recent survey of university presses found a sliding scale of concern among executives who were asked about publishing work derived from a dissertation that was openly available. Depending on how the findings are interpreted, they could be worrisome only 10 percent responded always welcome or reassuring in that a large majority said they were open to giving such work a chance to impress. Peter M. Berkery Jr., the executive director of the Association of American University Presses, said he spent a day quickly learning about the issue, which had not been on his radar, and came away confused by the stir. He said he spoke to 15 heads of university presses, and I havent found one person who has said if it is available open access, we wont publish it. Citing his own experience at Oxford University Press, he said that a book was necessarily an entirely different work from the dissertation that laid its groundwork, and is judged on its own terms. Still, Professor Jones and others say they know directly from their students that there is pressure to keep material out of general distribution. As for the leaders of university presses, she said, They dont necessarily know what their acquisition editors know. Other arguments in defense of the graduate students put the august Ph.D in a less than flattering light. Professor Jones and others described the dissertation as little more than a rough draft on the way to becoming a monograph, on which the hopes of academic tenure rest. When a new Ph.D decides to withhold her work, she is really saying to her professional colleagues, do not judge my research and analysis until I am ready to publish in print. Really, if my scholarly career was based on my dissertation I probably would be washing dishes at Dennys, she said, adding that, four years later it was a good book. In a post Mr. Hattem said he would publish on The Junto, a group blog on early American history, he wrote that he expected to wait at least two years before sharing his own dissertation. He said in an interview that he regretted that these were the terms he must live under as a scholar. But they were not new to him. It may look to us like a step back, but they have never stepped forward, he said. We still do the degrees in the way we did in the 1800s.


Mathew Harrington, an Air Force senior airman, working on an oscilloscope at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

Air Force Asks Students to Solve Real-World Problems


HE Air Force, as part of its recruitment efforts, is approaching young people for help in solving real-world technological problems using a collaborative online platform. The initiative, which will be introduced on Thursday, will create a digital program called the Air Force Collaboratory, in which young people will be challenged to develop technologies for search-and-rescue operations in collapsed structures; to create software code for a quadrotor, a type of unmanned, aerial vehicle; and to determine where to place the newest GPS satellite. The Air Force hopes the program will attract students in socalled STEM subjects science, technology, engineering and mathematics to work with its airmen on developing solutions for the three challenges, and, ideally, consider enlisting. The initiative which the Air Force will promote through digital advertising, social media and partnerships with groups like Discovery Education is the latest recruiting effort created for the Air Force by GSD&M, an agency based in Austin, Tex., that is part of the Omnicom Group. GSD&M has been the Air Forces agency since 2001, developing campaigns to help it attract the over 28,000 recruits it needs annually; the agency said its work had helped the Air Force meet its recruiting goals each year. GSD&Ms recruiting strategy for the Air Force which has always sought tech-savvy candidates previously featured an Airman Challenge online video game. A separate campaign included television spots whose theme was, Its not science fic-

tion. Col. Marcus Johnson, chief of the strategic marketing division of the Air Force Recruiting Service, said the Air Force focused on going after the best and brightest young men and women, with an emphasis on the STEM subjects. Whether theyre in high school or college, those topics translate into what we do in the Air Force. He said the collaboratory program was meant to appeal to men and women ages 16 to 24, including high school students still determining their future plans. Ryan Carroll, a creative director at GSD&M, said the Air Force

An online platform that promotes science and math.

was very much like the Apples and Googles of the world in recognizing the huge need for scientists and engineers. They reach out to kids at an early age and show them the amazing things they can do with science and technology. He pointed to initiatives like the Google Science Fair, an online, annual, global science competition for teenagers, as an example. Similarly, the collaboratory program aims to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, technologists and mathematicians, and to show them all the amazing, science-related things the Air Force does, Mr. Carroll said. The program will also allow students to participate and solve real problems the Air Force solves every day, he added.

Young people will be able to learn more about the initiatives challenges at the Web site, which will act as a forum. Challenge participants will be able to use custom-built tools to share ideas and work with airmen and other experts to develop solutions. Not surprisingly, digital media will primarily be used to promote the program. Custom editorial content is being developed for the STEM hub of, a global community of pragmatic idealists, while custom videos are being filmed for DNews, an online video series from Discovery Communications; the videos will feature the DNews hosts Trace Dominguez and Anthony Carboni. The technology network Technorati is asking bloggers to create custom posts on the collaboratory and related subjects, while the Air Force will pay to place videos on Web sites like YouTube, Blip and Machinima. In addition, the Air Force will promote the initiative on Facebook and Twitter. Digital banner advertising will run on the Web sites of Scientific American, Popular Science and The Verge. One set of ads depicts an Air Force helicopter approaching a scene of destruction after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that has trapped dozens of survivors. The copy reads, Your idea could save them. The Air Force Collaboratory. Search and rescue 2.0 is now open. Start collaborating. The Air Force also is working with Discovery Education, a division of Discovery Communications, on an outreach program for high school science and math teachers. Colonel Johnson said that although the collaboratory would run through November, new

challenges could be created after that. In addition, he said the Web site would carry no overt recruiting messages, nor would the Air Force actively recruit challenge participants, since the initiative was meant to raise interest in the Air Force and possibly encourage participants to seek out more information about opportunities there. The budget for the campaign is $3.7 million. Diane H. Mazur, a former Air Force officer, professor emeritus of law at the University of Florida and author of A More Perfect Military: How the Constitution Can Make Our Military Stronger, said that although the collaboratory concept was good, its not sophisticated to the degree it needs to be to attract the people they think they want to get. She added, This is a good direction if you do it well. David R. Segal, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland who specializes in military sociology, said that while recruiting high school students to work in military laboratories on military problems was not new, what seems new is having interns work online with Air Force scientists. I think they will certainly recruit a good number of high school students interested in science, engineering, technology and math to work on the problems identified. That part is easy, he said. Recruiting the same people then to come into the Air Force as enlisted men and women might be more difficult. They are likely to want to go to college. As a result, he said, the collaboratory would probably be more successful recruiting Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps students than airmen.

Bloomberg Media Recruits a New Chief From The Atlantic



Michael D. Hattem, a doctoral student in history at Yale, backs an effort to let Ph.D.s keep dissertations offline for six years.




Justin B. Smith, whose digital strategy swiftly transformed The Atlantic, one of the statelier media vessels around, is about to get a bigger boat. On Monday, Bloomberg will announce that Mr. Smith, the president of Atlantic Media, will be named chief executive of the Bloomberg Media Group. He will report to Daniel L. Doctoroff, chief executive of Bloomberg. Andrew Lack, who managed the media division for five years, will become chairman. After joining The Atlantic in 2007, Mr. Smith developed a reputation as an aggressive promoter of digital media who was able to reconfigure a 156-year-old magazine into a genuine multiplatform property. In a letter to the staff about Mr. Smiths departure, David Bradley, the owner of Atlantic Media, credited Mr. Smith with bringing the company to profitability for the first time under his ownership; doubling revenue; and creating a number of successful digital start-ups, including The Atlantic Wire and Quartz. His quick results at the Atlantic Media Company drew the attention of executives at Bloomberg, who began talking to him at the end of last year. We know that every part of media is being disrupted by technology, and we need someone who understands that, Mr. Doctoroff said. Justin can drive things forward here because he


Justin B. Smith, as president of Atlantic Media, developed a reputation as an aggressive promoter of digital media.
has an incredibly digital sensibility with a unique understanding of the confluence of journalism and multiple platforms. The move will give Mr. Smith significant scale and a connection with Bloombergs lucrative terminal business, which produces revenue that allows the company to invest aggressively in media properties. The company has had success in moving from a linear television business to a more diverse model of video distribution, while the acquisition of Businessweek gave Bloomberg an editorial cachet it historically lacked. Even with those successes, the media division has long been treated as a marketing amenity for subscribers to the terminal business. Despite its recent growth, the media division has struggled to gain a consumer base for its properties, which include television, print, radio, mobile, events and digital media. The company was heavily criticized several months ago after revelations that some of its reporters had used the Bloomberg terminals to gain access to data about its users, prompting Eric T. Schneiderman, attorney general of New York, to begin looking into the practice, The Wall Street Journal reported. The companys assets its success, its size and a hard-driving business culture might make bringing about change difficult. But Mr. Smith said the fit was a natural one. If you look at the entrepre-

neurial roots of this company and its history of market disruption and innovation, I think it is the best positioned media company there is, he said. The theory that large companies cannot innovate, he said, has not been historically true at Bloomberg. He added, This is a company where you can take big risks with longer horizons. Before joining Atlantic Media, Mr. Smith opened the American edition of the British newsmagazine The Week in 2001. Before that, he was head of corporate strategy for The Economist in London, Hong Kong and New York. He also founded Breaking Media, a collection of Web sites that includes Above the Law, Dealbreaker and Fashionista. Mr. Smith has no experience in the television business and said he would work closely with Mr. Lack in that area. He said he was interested in creating new products, including ones aimed at the global market, while bringing additional digital muscle to Bloombergs existing businesses. Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, met Mr. Smith at one of Atlantic Medias conferences and they became friends. How many people have really managed to be successful in digital media? Mr. Schmidt said in a phone call. Everyone has tried and few have been successful. Justin is one of them. He is moving very fast, but this is the next logical step. Its a serious gain for Bloomberg.

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