DFG-Empfehlung Nr. 17 – eine Analyse und ein Vorschlag

Am 3. Juli 2013 hat die Mitgliederversammlung der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) mehrere Ergänzungen zu ihren Empfehlungen zur Sicherung guter wissenschaftlicher Praxis beschlossen. Diese wurden am 4. Juli veröffentlicht. Im Vorfeld hatten ich und andere Befürchtungen geäußert, dass insbesondere eine neue Empfehlung – Nr. 17 – den offenen wissenschaftlichen Diskurs einschränken könnte. Stefan Heßbrüggen hat am 2. Juli 2013 auch eine Petition gegen diese neue Empfehlung und die ihr zugrundeliegende Empfehlung der Hochschulrektorenkonferenz (HRK) gestartet.

Haben sich nun unsere Befürchtungen bewahrheitet? Darauf hat noch niemand eine Antwort.
Die DFG-Empfehlung ist weit weniger drastisch formuliert als es noch die HRK-Empfehlung war. Zumindest der zweite Teil der Empfehlung ist aber trotzdem unnötig, stiftet Unsicherheit, und beschädigt Vertrauen.

Im Folgenden versuche ich, zu klären, was Empfehlung Nr. 17 für den allgemeinen wissenschaftlichen Diskurs, für die Aufklärung von Fehlverhalten und für das Vertrauen in das Wissenschaftssystem bedeutet.

Updates:
14.07.2013: Stefan Heßbrüggen diskutiert auf Carta intensiv den Konflikt zwischen DFG und HRK bezüglich Whistleblowern.
12.07.2013: Nachtrag: wie schon am 10.7. korrigiert (siehe unten), entspricht die verabschiedete DFG-Empfehlung der Beschlussvorlage des DFG-Senats.
12.07.2013: In einem merkwürdigen Editorial vom 10.07.2013, das mehrere faktische Fehler enthält, hat die Fachzeitschrift Nature die DFG-Empfehlungen kritisiert.
10.07.2013: Die DFG hat in einer Pressemitteilung noch einmal explizit erklärt, dass sich die Vertraulichkeit rein auf das Ombudsverfahren bezieht, nicht auf sonstigen wissenschaftlichen Diskurs.

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Vertrauen und Vertraulichkeit

Wissenschaft basiert nicht auf blindem Vertrauen, sondern auf immanentem Zweifel.
Wissenschaft braucht aber auch Vertrauen, intern und extern.
Intern erleichtert es uns Wissenschaftlern die Arbeit, wenn wir unseren Fachkollegen ein Grundvertrauen entgegenbringen können, und nicht dauernd nagende Zweifel an ihrer Redlichkeit hegen.
Extern braucht Wissenschaft das Vertrauen der Gesellschaft, die sich ja auf unsere Erkenntnisse verlassen und unsere Forschung finanzieren soll.

Dieses Vertrauen untereinander und der Öffentlichkeit in uns ist immens viel wichtiger als mögliche Reputationsverluste eines Einzelnen.

Transparenz  schafft Vertrauen – und nicht Kommissionen, die im Geheimen entscheiden, wer weiterhin vertrauenswürdig ist, und wer nicht.

Alleine die Tatsache, dass HRK und DFG geschlossen der Heimlichkeit den Vorzug geben, nimmt mir wieder ein Stück Vertrauen in unser Wissenschaftssystem.

 

Warum die neue DFG-Empfehlung Nr. 17 der Wissenschaft schadet

In Ihrer Mitgliederversammlung vom 1.-3. Juli 2013 will die Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) ihre “Vorschläge zur Sicherung guter wissenschaftlicher Praxis” um einen weitere “Empfehlung” (Nr. 17) ergänzen: Vorwürfe wissenschaftlichen Fehlverhaltens dürfen nur noch den Ombudspersonen mitgeteilt werden und nicht mehr öffentlich diskutiert werden.
Dies wird anonyme Beschuldigungen nicht stoppen.
Wer aber unter seinem bürgerlichen Namen öffentlich wissenschaftliches Fehlverhalten anprangert, verstößt in Zukunft – nach Meinung der DFG – selbst gegen die Regeln der guten wissenschaftlichen Praxis. Whistleblower können dadurch von der DFG-Förderung ausgeschlossen werden – mit dramatischen Folgen gerade für junge Wissenschaftler.
Die neue Empfehlung Nr. 17 ist ein Gummiparagraph, der den wissenschaftlichen Diskurs in Deutschland lähmt und die Aufklärung von wissenschaftlichem Fehlverhalten verhindert.

Updates:

10.07.2013: Die DFG hat in einer Pressemitteilung explizit erklärt, dass sich die Vertraulichkeit rein auf das Ombudsverfahren bezieht, nicht auf sonstigen wissenschaftlichen Diskurs.
08.07.2013: Ich habe meine Meinung zur Empfehlung 17 noch einmal als Blog-Eintrag dokumentiert.
04.07.2013: Die DFG hat die neue – gegenüber der HRK-Formulierung weniger scharfen – Empfehlung 17 heute veröffentlicht (PDF).
02.07.2013: Es gibt jetzt eine Petition an die DFG auf change.org. Ich warte noch ab, was morgen auf der DFG-Mitgliederversammlung überhaupt beschlossen wird.
01.07.2013: Erbloggtes erklärt eloquent, weshalb Ombudssystem und öffentlicher Diskurs zusammengehören.
01.07.2013: English blog post “Whistle blowing in the German University: A Regulatory Scandal in the Making” by Stefan Heßbrüggen-Walter.
29.06.2013: Link zu Blogeintrag von Benjamin Lahusen eingefügt.

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How would you like to be remembered by the people who will live in 2200?

At TEI 2008, Hiroshi Ishii gave a very interesting keynote, presenting highlights of the incredible amount of research he had been involved over the last decades.

However, it was the last slide that has stayed in my mind since then:

Wiley’s Major Reference Works available for free (sort of)

Update (08. March 2012): Wiley has informed me that they just fixed the issue.

70 GB of digital content from Wiley’s Major Reference Works can be downloaded for free from Wiley’s web server. This is probably not intended, as Wiley still charges hundreds or even thousand of Euros for each one. I notified them of this fact several times during the last two months. They do not seem to mind. In this post I explain how I found out about this, how one can download the content, and why this is probably legal (at least in some jurisdictions).
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Why you should not trust Sheridan Printing with your conference paper

In 2009 I found a pretty obvious security flaw in Sheridan Printing’s submission management system. It allows anyone to view and modify all papers in the conference proceedings of many major computer science conferences prior to printing and publication.

Over the last two years I have continuously tried to get this problem fixed silently – without success. Therefore, I publish the issue now, giving authors the chance to make informed decisions.

In this blog post I describe the problem, explain its possible consequences, and propose ways to fix this issue.
Read the full post »

Kernel talking to me

Message from syslogd@seamless at Nov 11 04:01:37 …
kernel:[2972477.277368] Uhhuh. NMI received for unknown reason a0 on CPU 0.

Message from syslogd@seamless at Nov 11 04:01:37 …
kernel:[2972477.277368] You have some hardware problem, likely on the PCI bus.

Message from syslogd@seamless at Nov 11 04:01:37 …
kernel:[2972477.277368] Dazed and confused, but trying to continue

Message from syslogd@seamless at Nov 11 04:01:37 …
kernel:[2972477.277368] Uhhuh. NMI received for unknown reason 34 on CPU 0.

Message from syslogd@seamless at Nov 11 04:01:37 …
kernel:[2972477.277368] Do you have a strange power saving mode enabled?

Message from syslogd@seamless at Nov 11 04:01:37 …
kernel:[2972477.277368] Dazed and confused, but trying to continue

Best {Paper, Demo, Poster} Awards Considered Harmful

Many academic conferences award one or more “best paper”, “best demo” or “best poster” awards. The awardees are either selected by the program committee or by an anonymous audience vote.
However, in my opinion, we should get rid of these awards.
For three reasons I think these are a bad idea.

1. The big question regarding such awards is: “In which way are they useful for the community”. Like in education, an intervention (the award) should have a lasting positive effect either on the awardee or the community. Sure, the individual author who receives an award might feel happy for a short while. However, this positive effect might also be reached by just patting them on the back and saying “Great Work!”. There is no evidence that such awards lead to higher achievements. Quite to the contrary, a number of publications claim that awards and incentives actually have overall negative effects on individuals and communities, lowering their performance [1].

2. Awards are a bad metric for great research. Bartneck and Hu have pointed out that (on average) papers which got a CHI best paper awards did not get more citations than a random sample [2]. It seems that even a commitee of experts is unable to predict which papers will have the highest impact. If detecting great work is not even possible for papers with their fixed structure, why should it work for posters or demos? Especially demos are so diverse that a one-size-fits-all award is plain wrong. Is an artful, thought-provoking demo better than a demo of a novel, extremely versatile sensing technology?

3. Undersampling is another problem. How many of the conference attendees have seen all posters and demos? I would guess that, for any poster session, not a single attendee has read all poster titles. Likewise, it is hard to judge the quality of a demo without understanding it. For understanding a demo, you have to try it out for some time. With hundreds of other attendees trying out the same demos, there is just no time for this. Therefore, almost all votes for a best demo or poster can consider only a small subset. Nearly noone is able to make a qualified decision. Variables like poster/demo placement or group dynamics might have more of an effect on the votes than any kind of actual “quality” of a poster or demo.

Overall, best poster/paper/demo awards are neither shown effective nor valid nor at least fair. Why are we then clinging to them?

The TEI conference – which has a very intensive and diverse demo and poster session – has opted not to have any awards – for more or less these reasons.

[1] Kohn, A. (1993). Why incentive plans cannot work. Harvard Business Review, September 1993

[2] Bartneck, C., & Hu, J. (2009). Scientometric Analysis Of The CHI Proceedings. Proceedings of the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI2009), Boston, pp.699-708

ITS 2010 – Day 2

I’m attending ITS 2010 – the ACM International Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces 2010 in Saarbrücken, Germany. This is a short collection of interesting stuff I’ve seen and heard on day 2 (Monday, 6. November 2010).

(The demo and poster session is like a huge, dark playground with (literally) tons of amazing touch interfaces.)

Monday was the first day of paper presentations. There was a wealth of papers on several topics. Therefore my account is very selective. You can get all papers at the conference website.

The day started very relaxing with “Tafelmusik“, two musicians with a digital audio sequencer and a table full of objects that make sounds. See their website for a photo. By sampling them and continuously replaying these sounds they created a sound landscape – sometimes soothing and sometimes fascinating.

Brad Paley gave a keynote covering a wide range of topics but centering about ways to visualize information. Some of his claims:

  • “CHI” considered harmful: instead “computer mediated human-to-human interaction”
  • Color is bad for encoding data
  • Consistence *impairs* performance
  • 15:1 increases in information density, 20:1 speed-ups can be easily reached
  • “users” considered harmful

While Brad did not explicitly say so, I think in their entirety these claims only apply to UIs for expert users, however.

Afterwards, Malte Weiss (RWTH Aachen) presented “BendDesk: Dragging Across the Curve” [PDF]. He and Simon Voelker built a desk with an interactive surface bent partly upwards. Malte kindly mentioned Curve – our research on this topic. We are currently figuring out how to connect both prototypes for remote interaction.

In the same session, Yvonne Jansen presented MudPad [PDF], a tactile display using ferrofluid and magnets.

Antti Virolainen presented an interactive surface made out of ice (FTIR in ice is probably not possible).

Hrvoje Benko (Microsoft Research) presented another spherical multitouch surface – but this time a large dome where you walk inside [PDF]. Interesting link from his talk: worldwidetelescope.org

In the afternoon, Dietrich Kammer (TU Dresden) presented an interesting theoretical framework for describing gestures [PDF].

For me, the demo and poster session is always the highlight of a conference. At ITS 2010 it took place at DFKI. There was a wealth of really cool demos and interesting posters. As I had to present my own poster (“Some Thoughts on a Model of Touch-Sensitive Surfaces” [PDF]), I did not find time to have a look at every demo. However, there was an amazing mixture of art, high-tech hardware, and applications. See the photos on Facebook!

While I liked some demos and posters more than others, I did not fill out my voting sheet for best poster or demo. More on this later.

Photo taken from the official ITS 2010 Facebook album:

ITS 2010 – Day 1

I’m attending ITS 2010 – the ACM International Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces 2010 in Saarbrücken, Germany. This is a short collection of interesting stuff I’ve seen and heard on day 1 (Sunday, 6. November 2010).

(people testing the multitouch device they just built)

Sunday started with four tutorials:

Sheelagh Carpendale (University of Calgary) gave an introduction into qualitative evaluation and observation of tabletop interaction. We did an experiment where she would tell us a story and we should draw a continuous line somehow representing the mood of the characters in the story. I found it quite interesting that there were completely different looking drawings but some drawings looked quite similar. I wonder whether you could find out which persons have a similar understanding of a story. Looks like a great method for match-making.

Uli von Zadow (Archimedes Solutions) gave a very interesting overview of multitouch sensing APIs and implementation details of common processing stages (e.g. it is not a good idea to put successive processing stages on different processors as this makes the processor cache pretty much useless).

Florian Echtler (Hochschule München) presented an overview of multitouch sensing techniques [I did not attend the talk as I'm pretty familiar with his work].

And finally, Anne Roudaut (HPI Potsdam) organized a really cool “build your own multitouch” session where about 50 participants built a simple touch-sensitive surface using FTIR with visible light and a cheap webcam. You can find the instructions online on her Acrylicpad page. They got really cheap (5 EUR) webcams on eBay. However, they only worked with Windows XP – and of course Linux :)

Afterwards we had a nice get-together at the Ratskeller in Saarbrücken.

Photo taken from the official Facebook album:

Day 1, Day 2

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