学术会议参会基本礼仪

刚刚参加完2019年的MPSA(美国中西部政治学年会),回忆这些年参加的诸多不同领域的年会,颇有感触,但最深刻的却和学术并无关系,而是参会过程中打过交道的形形色色的人。他们中有学术巨擘,有无名学生,有高傲的聪明人,也有谦卑的实干家。不管哪个学术会议,华人学者的参会人数都在过去几年激增。这篇短文结合我自己这些年的参会经验,总结一些基本礼仪。

值得说明的是,写这篇文章的目的并不是因为华人学者的参会礼仪有问题,而是因为不管来自哪里,普遍都有参会礼仪有问题的学者,也有非常值得我们学习的榜样。作为华人学者的一员,我希望我们不仅能够向世界展示我们一流的研究,也能够像世界展示我们一流的风范。

  • 和对方说话是一种真心的交流

我遇到过不少学者和学生,和你说话的时候很少跟你有眼神交流。这些人中有些是因为紧张或者习惯而不愿意跟你有眼神接触,也有一些是始终看着天花板对你爱理不理的。人对情感的体察是非常敏锐的,我们能够很容易从中分别出哪些是高傲,哪些是习惯。如果肢体语言和“气场”判断太过主观,那么比较客观的判断是,对别人的研究是不是想了解,是不是感兴趣,是不是对提出的问题主动地进行阐释,是不是愿意了解不同的观点和意见。

举例一个反面教材,比如今年和某校的某助理教授交流时,他总是盯着天花板,然后对我的回应就是“yeah, yeah, right, I’m not sure”。递给他一张名片希望可以拜读文章,他一只手夹过名片看也没看就揣进了口袋。我可以保证这样的表现在campus visit 的时候绝对会被刷掉,因为他的研究还没有好到让人对他性格上的瑕疵进行包容。很多学校在招聘的时候会利用学术会议的机会考察候选人,就算今年不在job market上,学术圈子是很小的,一旦给人留下不好印象,说不定在什么时候就会造成影响。

  • 不提没有问题的问题

展示结束的提问环节,一定要保证自己的问题是有“问题”的,而且能够让被提问的人说出很多展示的时候他没有机会展示的信息或者观点。常见的反面教材是,提问的人说了一大堆自己的研究和看法,最后chair不得不打断并问“so what’s your question?”这是非常尴尬的。提问的目的是为了从回答问题的人那里获得智慧,而不是展示自己——正确的展示自己的方式是提出一个简洁但切中要点的问题。

  • 不提没有建设性的建议

提出的建议也需要有建设性,即作者听了你的意见后能够知道具体怎么完善自己的研究,而不是发出一堆自己也无法提出解决方案的批评。最典型的是批评别人没有解决好endogeneity或者causality的推论,而自己又没有很好的解决方案。有些基本问题不说大家也知道很重要,如果我们不能够给出更高明的方案,就可以把时间留给别人。

  • 真心地了解和欣赏别人的研究

对在同一个panel的其它文章,我们有没有认真阅读并提出建议?MPSA的panel因为有discussant,所以能够保证每篇文章都能收到评论。除了discussant,我们自己有没有阅读他人的文章,并真心地学习、建议?这一点是很多学者都很难做到的,可能是因为大家真的太忙了,除了自己的研究其它谁的研究都不关心。

我自己在这方面一开始也没有做好。记得很多年前第一次参加学术会议的时候,我们组有个emeritus professor,他不仅把我的文章从头到尾仔细读了一遍,还做了非常仔细的批注,展示结束后他把手稿给我,我当时就震撼了,并深感惭愧,因为我并没有仔细阅读同组的其它文章。另外一次是博士二年级时参加校内的一个博士生研讨会展示,会前大家并没有交流文章,但展示完了后我收到了两份来自同组同学的意见表,感动又羞愧。后来那篇文章发表的时候我对他们进行了致谢,也算是表达我的一份歉意。

再者就是,我们时常会对自己要“套磁”的人的研究仔细阅读,但当我们自己被别人“套磁”的时候,对于别人的研究也应当进行了解。这次会前我主动和一个学者联系了会议期间见面,因为他们两周前刚刚发表了一篇文章和我的研究非常相关。我仔细阅读他的文章那是理所当然的,但是见面的时候两件小事让我对他肃然起敬。首先他看到了我对他的文章进行了非常详细的批注,表示非常惭愧,因为他还没来得及阅读我的文章;但是他仔细地看了我的履历和相关研究,连我的博士论文方向和导师的研究方向都进行了了解。有这样品行的学者学术一般自然不差,才第二年助理教授的他已经被学院offer评tenure,因为太优秀,学院怕留不住。可能是因为研究方向及性格都比较投缘,我们聊了半个小时便商量好了合作。

  • 不要让自己的ego大过curiosity

做学术的人都是有很强ego的,这很自然,但不要让ego成为傲慢。我的感受是,只要自己始终对其它的人和事抱有孩童般的好奇心,就可以不骄不躁。另外我也不提倡谦虚,因为谦虚没什么用处,而且不谦虚也不等于傲慢。知道自己有很多不足,也要欣赏自己的优点和研究;同理,欣赏别人的优点和研究,也知道人无完人。这一点知易行难。

记得自己刚刚参加学术会议的时候,经常是自己的ego太大以致忽略了别人。还是第一次参加学术会议那次,我们那组展示完后在大厅,一位年长的教授跟我说:“来那换张名片吧”。语气中带着无奈和欣赏,无奈可能是他感受到了我当时的傲慢,欣赏可能是他觉得这个小伙子的确还可以。多年后回想,我很感谢他那时的包容,毕竟谁都要成长。这些年我也会经常遇到ego很强大的学生和学者,我也会对他们说:“来那换张名片吧。”

以上五点仅仅是参会礼仪的一小部分,而且基本上都是常识。“礼仪”这种事情是不可能穷尽的,但归结一点,做一个nice scholar比做一个smartscholar更重要。而学术真正做得非常顶尖的,人品一般都非常好。大道至简,学好做人在我看来比学好做学术更重要,我也还在认真领会和完善自己。如何才能“学好做人”没有技巧而言,根本上是我们对生命和生活的感悟和体验,这对人文社会科学家来说可能尤为重要。

“万物并作,吾以观复”,而“吾能观复”是何其美妙和值得感恩的事情啊!

[Preprint] Funding nonprofits in a networked society: Two modes of crowding mechanism of government support

This paper studies the impact of social relations on the crowding process of government funding–the effect that government funding to nonprofits may crowd out or crowd in private donations. By using a novel panel dataset across 12 years from the People’s Republic of China, this study suggests that, although government funding to a nonprofit may crowd out the private donations to the same organization, private donations are not reduced but redistributed to other nonprofits in the organizational network. Policy and practical implications are discussed.

Keywords: crowd out, crowd in, social relation, government funding, nonprofit organization, networked society

Full-text: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3262798

[Voluntas] A Century of Nonprofit Studies: Scaling the Knowledge of the Field

I started to work on this project since early 2015, and the first paper is finally accepted in Voluntas today, which is my civil calendar birthday. Although our family tradition is to use the Chinese lunar calendar, still a nice gift.

Sara and I started to work on the first draft at Mo’Joe Coffeehouse, which was permanently closed in June this year. Another coffeehouse, Thirsty Scholar, was also closed around the same time. Lots of memories with friends in both places.

There are at least three versions of this paper. The first draft almost entirely relied on a citation analysis software package named CiteSpace. It was a very simple paper but it helped me get familiar with relevant concepts and methodology and cleaned a part of the dataset used in the final analysis. In the second draft, I started to write Python scripts for processing and analyzing data. In early 2017, while I was waiting for my wife, parents, and parents-in-law at Kuala Lumpur airport to start a wonderful journey in Malaysia, I received the rejection from a journal. Then I tried to rewrite the whole paper to analyze the literature published in the last century. I still remember the classroom in which I crawled the first hundreds of records – it was a classroom on the first floor of Teaching Building 2 in Beijing Normal University, where I also spent many nights for preparing my Ph.D. application. I then had a lunch with a good friend who just returned from UPenn about a year ago. She said she felt her heart was in peace, and she was sure about the direction of her career. That was a day in March, Beijing was snowing heavily.

In late June of this year, I submitted the third draft to Voluntas in the office at IQSS, where Prof. Peter Bol treated me so well. We got “minor revision” in early August, and I had a phone call with Sara on the third day after moving to Austin. Life was pretty hectic.

A paper for me has two meanings: the words and numbers for reviewers and readers, and the memories for myself. All things grow, I’m waiting and watching 万物并作,吾以观复.

Abstract

This empirical study examines knowledge production between 1925 and 2015 in nonprofit and philanthropic studies from quantitative and thematic perspectives. Quantitative results suggest that scholars in this field have been actively generating a considerable amount of literature and a solid intellectual base for developing this field towards a new discipline. Thematic analyses suggest that knowledge production in this field is also growing in cohesion – several main themes have been formed and actively advanced since the 1980s, and the study of volunteering can be identified as a unique core theme of this field. The lack of geographic and cultural diversity is a critical challenge for advancing nonprofit studies. New paradigms are needed for developing this research field and mitigating the tension between academia and practice. Methodological and pedagogical implications, limitations, and future studies are discussed.

Keywords: nonprofit and philanthropic studies; network analysis; knowledge production; paradigm shift; science mapping

Fulltext: https://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2834121

Datasets in “state power and elite autonomy in a networked civil society”

The paper State power and elite autonomy in a networked civil society: The board interlocking of Chinese non-profits is published at Social Networks (Open Access, you can get the paper free of charge because we’ve paid for the knowledge we produced). Here are the hand-coded datasets in the paper. You are welcome to use as long as you give appropriate attribution.

All the datasets used in this paper are open to use, review, or replicate. Feel free to send me an email if you need more information.

Continue reading “Datasets in “state power and elite autonomy in a networked civil society””

The research infrastructure of Chinese foundations, a database for Chinese civil society studies @Scientific Data

Ma, J., Wang, Q., Dong, C., & Li, H. (2017). The research infrastructure of Chinese foundations, a database for Chinese civil society studies. Scientific Data, 4, sdata201794. https://doi.org/10.1038/sdata.2017.94

Continue reading “The research infrastructure of Chinese foundations, a database for Chinese civil society studies @Scientific Data”

web crawling and OCR of verification image

I’m working on crawling data from some websites for my research, the most challenging issue is the verification image – the barrier set by websites to prevent programmed crawling. I’ve tried different approaches, but all failed: the success rate is too low to be usable. Looks like such verification mechanism is not as vulnerable as people always assume. However, it is beneficial to write down my lesson, for my own reference and other folks who may want to give a try. Promising solutions for avoiding verification may be the IP pools and delayed requests (courtesy to servers!). Continue reading “web crawling and OCR of verification image”

[Preprint] Thirty Years of Nonprofit Research: Scaling the Knowledge of the Field 1986 – 2015

Ji Ma, Sara Konrath

Abstract:
This empirical study examines knowledge production between 1986 and 2015 in nonprofit and philanthropic studies using science mapping and network analysis. Results suggest that scholars in this field have been actively generating a considerable amount of literature and a solid intellectual base for the continuing development of this field as a new discipline. Knowledge production in this field is also growing in cohesion – several main themes have been formed and actively developed since the mid-1980s. Future advancement of this field faces a critical challenge: the lack of geographic and cultural diversity resulting from the domination of research taking place in the “Anglosphere.” We also emphasize the importance of new paradigms in mitigating the tension between theory and practice – a challenge commonly faced by academic disciplines. Methodological and pedagogical implications, limitations, and future directions are also discussed.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 52

Keywords: nonprofit and philanthropic studies, network analysis, knowledge production, paradigm shift, science mapping

Full text available at SSRN.

Nonprofit management education: A literature collection

I was on a project reviewing the literature on nonprofit management education. The outcome of this project is an unpublished English manual and an article in a peer-reviewed Chinese journal (The China Nonprofit Review). The following items are the references in the literature pool. This should be helpful if you are developing a course (or a series of courses) of nonprofit management.

Update 12/2018: Another paper which reviews the scholarship on nonprofit studies in the last century was recently published and selected as the “Editor’s Choice Free Article”: A Century of Nonprofit Studies: Scaling the Knowledge of the Field (Ma, J. & Konrath, S. Voluntas (2018) 29: 1139. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-018-00057-5)

Continue reading “Nonprofit management education: A literature collection”

[Preprint] State power and elite autonomy: The board interlock network of Chinese non-profits

Ji Ma, Simon DeDeo

In response to failures of central planning, the Chinese government has experimented not only with free-market trade zones, but with allowing non-profit foundations to operate in a decentralized fashion. A network study shows how these foundations have connected together by sharing board members, in a structural parallel to what is seen in corporations in the United States. This board interlock leads to the emergence of an elite group with privileged network positions. While the presence of government officials on non-profit boards is widespread, state officials are much less common in a subgroup of foundations that control just over half of all revenue in the network. This subgroup, associated with business elites, not only enjoys higher levels of within-elite links, but even preferentially excludes government officials from the nodes with higher degree. The emergence of this structurally autonomous sphere is associated with major political and social events in the state-society relationship.

For full text, refer to http://arxiv.org/abs/1606.08103

Parallel computing using IPython: Important notes for naive scholars without CS background

Analysis of network and complex system requires too much computing resources. Although the learning curve is deep, the power of parallel computing must be utilized, otherwise, more time will be spent on waiting. Moreover, for exploratory academic research, we will not know what’s the next step until we finish the current analysis. So the research life-cycle becomes hypothesis -> operationalization -> LONG TIME coding and debugging -> LONG TIME waiting for result -> new hypothesis.

With IPython Notebook, parallel computing can be easily operated; however, like what I’ve said: We cannot understand the easiest programming skills unless we are able to operate them. I’ll not come to this post if I do not have to wait for a week only for one result. Playing parallel computing with IPython is easy, but for real jobs, it’s not. Scholars in social science area may be less skilled in programming – we are not trained to be. I’ve made great efforts and finally got some progress which may be laughed by CS guys.

While using IPython Notebook (now named Jupyter Notebook) for parallel computing, Jupyter will start several remote engines beside the local one we are using. These remote engines are blank which means that the variables and functions defined and modules imported on the local engine do not work on the remote ones. Specifically, the puzzle for me was (yes, was!): How to operate the variables, functions, and modules on the remote engines.

Continue reading “Parallel computing using IPython: Important notes for naive scholars without CS background”