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Scholar's Week

It wasn't the most responsive group that we've had, so I wasn't able to get much discussion going.  Some groups are like that.  You need only a couple of students who really want to engage with the speaker to get the rest going, and this time there wasn't one.  The few questions that came up were too respectful and tentative.

Fourteen med students, a mix of 3rd & 4th years, making their way through their spring Scholar's Week elective.  Martha had tipped me off to their passivity, so I wasn't too surprised, although it's not as much fun as a more rambunctious group.  But they were generally attentive.  The first two days, Martha & Lee worked with them on developing their searching skills (this is the part of the course where the comments are generally some variation of, "I had no idea there was this much to learn!  I wish we would've gotten this sooner!")

I think of my session as an interlude in the arc of the week, a bit of background context:  Where does the literature actually come from?  Who owns it?  How does that affect access to it?  What does it mean to you and the choices that you make now and throughout your career?  I give them a basic primer on copyright, some discussion of the general economics of scholarly publishing, and then spend the last bit of the session on whatever the "hot topic" is -- yesterday, of course, it's open access and the NIH policy.

What I want them to do most of all is think about this stuff, and that is distressingly hard to do.  They have been so conditioned to absorbing stuff and spitting it back.   So I keep tweaking the writing assignment.  This time it's 500 words asking them where they stand on the open access issues and what arguments they'd use to support their point of view.  I'm afraid that my own biases were too apparent yesterday, although I tried to present the full range of opinions, so I'm pretty sure what I'm going to get.  I hope they surprise me.


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