Predatory Publishing Alert from Mark E. Hauber, University Vice Provost for Research

Dear Colleagues,

It has come to our attention that several CUNY authors, including PSC-CUNY grant funded researchers, may have been exposed to ‘so-called’ predatory publishers, including having to pay open-access fee charges for articles appearing in journals of ill repute.

Could you please alert your faculty of these dangers, perhaps by circulating the attached Nature article on “The Dark Side of Publishing”?

Here, D. Butlers suggests the following​ (quoted from p. 435):

“A checklist to identify reputable publishers
How to perform due diligence before submitting to a journal or publisher.
● Check that the publisher provides full, verifiable contact information, including address, on the journal site. Be cautious of those that provide only web contact forms.
● Check that a journal’s editorial board lists recognized experts with full affiliations. Contact some of them and ask about their experience with the journal or publisher.
● Check that the journal prominently displays its policy for author fees.
● Be wary of e-mail invitations to submit to journals or to become editorial board members.
● Read some of the journal’s published articles and assess their quality. Contact past authors to ask about their experience.
● Check that a journal’s peer-review process is clearly described and try to confirm that a claimed impact factor is correct.
● Find out whether the journal is a member of an industry association that vets its members, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals ( or the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (
● Use common sense, as you would when shopping online: if something looks fishy, proceed with caution. D.B.”

Mark E. Hauber, Ph.D., D.Sc.
University Vice Provost for Research
City University of New York
205 E 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017, USA
+1/646-664-8910; @CUNYResearch @cowbirdlab
Editor-in-Chief, The Auk: Ornithological Advances @AukJournal

What would be lost?

In my FFPP group, we often discuss the importance of discovering the “core” of your work–its main point–which can sometimes be hard to see after you’ve worked on a project for a long time.

There are several exercises that you can do to help identify the core of your work; one of them is developing the classic “elevator pitch.”

A couple of years ago I saw a colleague of mine ask a doctoral candidate: “if you did not complete your scholarship, what would the world lose?  What would your discipline or field lose?”

This is an amazing prompt, I think–and one that helps us see the importance of our work–and its urgency and significance.


–Carrie Hintz

On Distraction and Tomatoes

On Distraction and Tomatoes

I’m Carrie Hintz, one of the FFPP mentors; this is my second year working with the program.  I’m excited to be beginning our work in earnest this coming Friday.

I enjoyed Katherine Chen’s remarks about collaborative learning communities–and how FFPP worked for her in her early years at CUNY.  For more on writing groups–and perhaps some advice on sustaining your writing beyond FFPP–check out this practical and inspiring advice column by political theorist Claire Curtis, published in the Chronicle of Higher Education: “The Rules of Writing Group.”  Claire echoes a number of Katherine’s points and talks in very interesting ways about being held accountable by your writing group.

Today I wanted to write about distraction and carving out writing time.  A number of my colleagues, all at different stages of their careers, have been talking to me about how distracted (and of course distressed) they are by the news: glued to their Twitter feed, blown off course whenever an update comes in from the New York Times, endlessly sidetracked by stories and links popping up on their Facebook feed.  No wonder we are all feeling unable to concentrate; it feels increasingly urgent to be vigilant about what is going on at both national and local levels.  But our scholarship also calls us, and it too is urgent.

Even in happier times, it can be challenging to carve out time for your scholarship.  Many colleagues new to the profession tell me that they rely on stretches of time (holidays, mostly) where they can get some traction on their work.  Such open stretches of time are invaluable, and to be treasured, but the key to long term survival in the profession, I think, lies more in the ability to carve out smaller portions of time to write–and to not be pulled off track by email, class prep, housework, or any number of interpersonal obligations.

To do this—to seize those small increments of time–I have found the Pomodoro method invaluable.  In the Pomodoro method, you set either a kitchen timer (like one of the tomato-shaped ones that the method is named after) or a digital timer for 25 minutes, then have a break of 5 minutes, followed again by 25 minutes of work.  And so on. A video explaining the method can be found here.  You can get Pomodoro apps for your phone, tablet or laptop as well.

When I was first introduced to the Pomodoro technique, I was not sure it would work for me–but it has helped me with the following:

  1.  Conceiving of my writing as taking place in small increments of time rather than enormous, unbroken blocks of time–and that progress is absolutely possible within those smaller blocks.
  2. Resisting distractions for those 25 minute blocks of time–especially the urge to check email or the news. Often this resistance to distraction takes place 15 or 20 minutes into the writing session, where I can tell myself “only 5 or 10 minutes to go,” so no interruptions allowed.
  3. Taking regular breaks, which clears the mind and feels healthier physically and mentally.

I also find that the method works well if I am writing for long stretches and trying to “accumulate” several Pomodoros–but it works  equally well when I have a day with several meetings and classes–because maybe I can fit in one “pomodoro” writing session, which is better than nothing and makes the next day’s work easier.  This may not be the method for you, but I would certainly recommend it as one way to deal (in part) with these distracting times and get some writing done!