An empirical study of the deviation between actual and shortest travel time paths

Recently published

DeviationAbstract: This study evaluates routes followed by residents of the Minneapolis–St. Paul metropolitan area, as measured by the Global Positioning System (GPS) component of the 2010/11 Twin Cities Travel Behavior Inventory (TBI). It finds that most commuters used paths longer than the shortest path. This is in part a function of trip distance (+, longer distance trips deviate more), trip circuity (−, more circuitous trips deviate less), number of turns (+, trips with more turns per kilometer deviate more), age of driver (−, older drivers deviate less), employment status (+, part-time workers deviate more), flexibility in work hours (+, more flexibility deviate more), and household income (−, higher-income travelers deviate less). Some reasons for these findings are conjectured.

Author keywords: Global positioning system (GPS); Shortest path; Route choice; Wardrop’s principles; Travel behavior.

Normalizing Citations – Beyond the H-index

The proper metric for an academic’s influence on the academic world of academic publishing is academic citations. An academic might make many (say 100) small contributions, each cited a small number (say 10) of times, or one contribution cited widely (say 1000) times. Neither is inherently superior, despite claims to the contrary, a

Citation needed. Source: Unknown.
Citation needed. Source: Unknown.

nd for the academic in question, it was probably easier to write one widely cited piece than 100 smaller ones, but that was unpredictable at the time.

Academic citations are cumulative distribution function, they can never go down (they can with retractions, but we will neglect that). So by this measure on average senior academics appear more influential than younger academics, which they of course are. But this is not a useful measure for filtering prospective candidates for hiring and promotion, which is why these metrics exist, to sort people based on productivity and establish a social hierarchy.

So to begin, we have two corrections to make. First, senior academics have more opportunities to write papers. A junior academic simply has not had the cumulative time to author 100 papers. Second, the senior academic’s papers have had more time to accumulate citations. So I suggest dividing total citations by Years^2 to account for these two temporal accumulating factors.

But which “Years”? Years since terminal degree? — This favors the young who start publishing before their degree. Years since they began their degree? Almost no one has any paper in year 1 of their graduate career. So we can estimate and split the difference and say years since graduation with terminal degree +2, on the theory that by the time you graduate you should have had at least 3 papers, and that means you started about 2 years before graduation. Still this is highly sensitive to assumptions for younger academics, it will wash out for the older academics. Domains will vary of course in terms of publishing culture.

There are other problems, for instance, co-authorship. At the extreme, all 108 billion people who ever lived have contributed fractionally to every paper, but they don’t all get co-authorship (except on experimental physics papers). But someone who puts all of their PhDs on all of their group’s papers is gaming the system to the detriment of those who assign more individually authored papers. So each citation should be divided by the fraction of authorship that the academic in question deserves. While this is impossible to assess, (promotion files sometimes ask for percentages on co-authored papers, but this is never systematically estimated or consistent). Computing an average dividing by the number of authors on the paper is a good surrogate.

I am not in this business of bibliometrics, I will leave that to others. But hopefully someone in the industry (Scopus, Web of Science, Google Scholar) can run the proposed corrections on these databases and produce a normalized citation measure as a standard output.

On Access and Citations

It is my impression, and that of my colleagues, that transport and land use researchers, especially those in the accessibility community, tend to cite more nearby researchers and fewer far away researchers.

That is, European accessibility researchers cite Europeans far more than North Americans, and  vice versa, independent of relevance and appropriateness. Canadians cite Canadians more than Americans, and vice versa. In short, citability decays with distance. Famous papers from across the ocean might be cited, but third tier local papers will also get cited.

This is a generalization of the self-citation observation, that people tend to cite their own previous work more than that of others, all else equal.

It can be argued this is based on proximity, certainly self-citation is (what is more proximate than my own brain), and citing locals can be presumably justified based on attending conferences and lectures, which is more likely if you are local. I think it is more based on familiarity and friendship and alliance, and if I help their career they will help mine.

Citations should be largely independent of origin. In a modern world with all of the world’s research at your fingertips, there is little excuse for being unfamiliar with far away research published in respectable journals.

I have seen research on co-citation, but nothing on geographic proximity (which doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but it doesn’t pop up quickly), which makes sense given that it would be a lot more work to locate the authors of cited papers.

Update, hypothesis corroborated: See World citation and collaboration networks: uncovering the role of geography in science (on arXiv, not yet in a journal)

While someone can do a rigorous geo-spatial analysis, this is a blog post, not an academic paper, so I will pose this as a hypothesis and let someone else collect the data.

TeMA: Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment

I have recently been named to the Editorial Board of TeMA: Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment. This is an Italian open access journal on things I am obviously interested in. Though it is based in Italy, many of the articles are in English, the international language of science. The archive of past issues is here. I copy it below:

Archivio

2015

Copertina

Vol 8, N° 1 (2015): Cities, Energy and Climate Change

Urban population is rapidly reaching two thirds of the global population; thus, cities are the core of a change that need to be driven: the rapid urban population growth involve a large energy consumption and high greenhouses gas emissions which drive cities to face environmental challenges like as climate changes and energy resources’ scarcity. As remarked by the last Report of the United Nations on Sustainable Development, climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and adequate strategies capable of mitigating and adapting to its impacts represents an immediate and urgent global priority. This issue of the TeMA focues on the topic of Cities, Energy and Climate Change, focusing on current strategies addressed to mitigation and adaptation.

2014

Copertina

Vol 7, N° 3 (2014): Smart City Challenges: Planning for smart cities. Dealing with new urban challenges

The role of urban planner is changing: ICT and big data availability, enabling them to monitor and analyse large amount of data and information, may contribute to better understand and plan the city, improving efficiency, equity and quality of life for its citizens and its capacity to face future challenges. Big data availability is shifting our focus away from the long to the very short term, affecting urban planner’s efforts on generating an effective knowledge base for planning.
Copertina

2014: INPUT 2014 – Smart City: planning for energy, transportation and sustainability of the urban system

This special issue collects a selection of peer-review papers presented at the 8th International Conference INPUT 2014 – Innovation in Urban and Regional Planning, titled “Smart City: Planning For Energy, Transportation and Sustainability of Urban Systems”, held on 4-6 June in Naples, Italy. The issue includes recent developments on the theme of relationship between innovation and city management and planning.
Copertina

Vol 7, N° 2 (2014): Smart Cities Challenges: Smart Communities Between E-Governance and Social Participation

Information and communication technology (ICT) is producing urban environments that are quite different from anything that we have experienced before. Cities are becoming smarter (or rather their population is becoming smarter) and can automate functions serving individual persons, buildings and traffic systems. At the same time, sensors streaming data, are giving rise to entirely new forms and patterns that enable us to watch how cities and their populations are responding in almost real time. Big data, open data, wireless sensor networks may represent basic tools for re-thinking our development model, decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation; re-designing our planning tools in face of the new challenges that cites have to deal with; creating inclusive and sustainable communities. The new ICT capabilities will allow the rising of a new dimension of the urban social capital and a new consciousness of citizens in the monitoring of the evolution process of the city.
Copertina

Vol 7, N° 1 (2014): Smart Cities Challenges: Smart Environment for Sustainable Resource Management

The role of urban planner is changing: ICT and big data availability, enabling them to monitor and analyse large amount of data and information, may contribute to better understand and plan the city, improving efficiency, equity and quality of life for its citizens and its capacity to face future challenges. Big data availability is shifting our focus away from the long to the very short term, affecting urban planner’s efforts on generating an effective knowledge base for planning.
This TeMA issue focuses on the theme of Planning for Smart Cities and invites contributions investigating innovative approaches, methods, techniques, tools for supporting urban and spatial plans (at different scales) on the following themes: Functional Densification; Social Housing; Urban Rehabilitation and Renewal; City Competitiveness in Economic Crisis; Brownfield Transformation; Maintenance, Upgrading and Innovation of Urban Infrastructures; Regeneration of Existing Building Stock; Reassessment of Urban Standards.

2013

Copertina

Vol 6, N° 3 (2013): Smart Cities: Research, Projects and Good Practices for Infrastructures

The volume n.6 of TeMA Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment deals with the topic of Smart City and this third issue deals in particular with the theme of Smart Urban Infrastructural systems. The main subjects that this issue point out are innovation of networks and infrastructural systems for people and goods mobility; advanced technologies of communication; intelligent systems for energy production and distribution; monitoring systems for provision of real time information on different aspects of urban life (mobility, climate conditions, safety and so on). In this broader context one of the key theme is the role of ICT in innovating government and the policy decision processes: by enhancing the linkages between various governmental and social organizations, ICT supported knowledge flows (Socio Technical System) is a mean for sustaining innovation in the public sector since they enables governments to better cope with the uncertainties of a complex environment.
Copertina

Vol 6, N° 2 (2013): Smart Cities: Researches, Projects and Good Practices for Buildings

This issue of the volume n.6 “Smart Cities” focuses on ideas, projects and good practices with specific reference to the building scale, keeping in mind that the urban fabrics have to be seen not only as structure following the most advanced technological solutions but, above all, as constructions capable of an effective interaction with urban context, capable of reducing energy consumption, optimizing the use of space, minimizing impacts on natural resources, assuring the safety of inhabitants, also through an efficient use of available technologies.
Therefore, based on a systemic approach, this issue collects and promotes ideas, projects and good practices at building scale, able to affect the quality of everyday life, without ignoring the complex tissue of physical, functional and environmental relationships between buildings and the urban systems they belong to.

Copertina

Vol 6, N° 1 (2013): Smart Cities: Researches, Projects and Good Practices for the City

The concept of the smart city has been quite fashionable in the policy arena in recent years and the question of how we can live “smartly” in a city has become the focus of policymakers and private industry. The label smart city is still quite a fuzzy concept and is used in ways that are not always consistent. However, starting from a general definition, what is central to the concept of the Smart City and what makes it differ from ‘sustainable cities’ or ‘ECO cities’ is the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the process of creating a more sustainable city but also the availability and quality of knowledge communication and social infrastructure.

This first issue of TeMA, Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, volume no.6 deals with the subject of Smart City with reference to the urban scale. Accordingly, the papers tackle the different aspects characterizing a  smart urban development: ranging from the more specifically economic ones, targeted to the implementation of strategies expected to improve competitiveness of cities in the global scenario; to those more involved in environment questions aimed at identifying strategies for improving the city capability of facing the important challenges given by the ongoing climate change as well as by the ever-growing reduction of traditional energy resources, paying particular attention to the improvement of urban mobility and energy saving as well as of those connected with the quality of life of communities, with specific attention to the participation to decisions-making processes, equity in the access to resources, individual and collective safety, social cohesion.

2012

Copertina

Vol 5, N° 3 (2012): Mobility and Competitiveness

This issue focuses on the relations between competition among regions and cities and policies and/or infrastructural facilities related to mobility. In other words, the issue explores the contribution that infrastructural systems and/or procedures and tools for mobility planning and management can provide to the raise of the levels of competitiveness that cities achieve. The broad topic  include both theoretical contributions and others more closely linked to policies/practices for mobility that positively affect the efficiency and livability of urban systems, increasing their potential for attracting businesses and families.
Copertina

Vol 5, N° 2 (2012): Resilient city

The Resilience concept has been largely debated in different disciplinary fields since the Seventies. An important contribution to the definition of Resilience itself and to the development of a peculiar focus on Urban Resilience has been recently provided by studies and researches on climate change. In this field, resilience has been defined as a set of adaptive capacities of urban systems dealing with different stress factors and, in particular, with phenomena of climate change and oil resources scarcity. A resilient city is defined as a city capable of absorbing shock and/or disturbances, without suffering significant alterations in its functional organization, its structure and identity features. According to these studies, this issue of TeMA focuses on national strategies and actions implemented both in  European and in different national and urban contexts, in order to increase urban resilience in face of the main factors threatening their development and, in particular, of climate change, related natural hazards and oil resources scarcity.

Copertina

Vol 5, N° 1 (2012): Landscapes of Urban Sprawl

Urban sprawl processes characterize the landscape of the areas surrounding cities. These landscapes show different features according to the geographical area that cities belong to, though some common factors can be identified: land consumption, indifference to the peculiarities of the context, homogeneity of activities and building typologies, mobility needs exasperatedly delegated  to private cars. Furthermore, these processes increasingly develop while land use planning seems unable – due to the lack of  capacities or of will – to counteract the causes, with multiple effects, which can be summarized in an overall reduction in quality of life.
Scientific community has been questioning about the need to curb urban sprawl processes  for many decades, since when large suburbs have been changed from desirable residential places to areas characterized by poor relationships and social qualities.

2011

Copertina

Vol 4, N° 4 (2011): Mobilità e conflitti

L’esercizio, la realizzazione o la previsione di insediamento di un sistema di mobilità possono generare diverse forme di conflittualità. Queste ultime possono riguardare principalmente la sfera socio-territoriale ed il rapporto fra infrastruttura (in generale grandi sistemi di trasporto e scambiatori) e collettività locale, interessata dai mutamenti territoriali indotti e esposta agli impatti che si originano per effetto del sistema di trasporto.

In prima ipotesi, è possibile identificare una serie di conflitti riconducibili a fattori quali: la tipologia di infrastruttura, la scala dell’intervento, il tipo di impatto generato, le caratteristiche delle collettività coinvolte, la distribuzione territoriale delle infrastrutture di mobilità, la tipologia di spostamento, ecc.

Il numero si pone l’obiettivo di analizzare le possibili ed eterogenee forme di conflittualità, estendendo l’approfondimento anche a forme di conflitto che possono riguardare: le procedure di concertazione, i percorsi di ricerca del consenso, ma anche gli squilibri nell’erogazione del servizio ed i conflitti indotti fra classi diverse di utenti dalle nuove politiche di gestione delle infrastrutture (per esempio considerando le nuove opportunità di spostamento offerte dalla rete A/V).

Un ruolo particolarmente rilevante va riservato alla riflessione sugli impatti, gli squilibri e le discrasie generate sul “sistema  ambiente” dalle nuove infrastrutture di mobilità che intervengono a modificare gli assetti orografici e le specificità ambientali di siti di consistente valore (territori alpini, insulari, costieri, etc.) ambientale e per i quali sussiste un forte senso di appartenenza radicato nelle comunità locali.

Copertina

Vol 4, N° 3 (2011): Mobilità e grandi progetti

Questo numero di Tema si occupa della realizzazione di grandi progetti infrastrutturali, con particolare riferimento al rapporto tra grandi progetti e competitività territoriale, alle tecniche e ai metodi per valutare gli impatti dovuti alla realizzazione di interventi nel settore dei trasporti, all’efficacia degli investimenti nel settore dei trasporti su scala europea, ai cambiamenti nei sistemi metropolitani indotti dall’attuazione dei progetti infrastrutturali, alla valutazione, 10 anni dopo la Legge Obiettivo, delle implementazioni di infrastrutture strategiche in Italia, agli impatti dei grandi progetti infrastrutturali sul paesaggio e sull’ambiente.

Copertina

Vol 4, N° 2 (2011): Green Mobility

La mobilità delle persone e delle merci è largamente riconosciuta quale presupposto imprescindibile per la crescita economica e lo sviluppo della società, elemento strategico per lo sviluppo competitivo di città e regioni e diritto fondamentale delle collettività. Nel contesto europeo i trasporti costituiscono uno dei settori economici più rilevanti ma, anche, uno dei principali fattori di deterioramento della qualità ambientale e della vivibilità, soprattutto nelle grandi aree urbane: inquinamento atmosferico e acustico, consumo di fonti energetiche non rinnovabili, consumo di suolo, congestione, incidentalità sono tra i principali costi ambientali connessi ai trasporti.

Pertanto, questo numero di TeMA intende focalizzare l’attenzione sulle strategie e sulle messe in campo sia in ambito europeo che in diversi contesti nazionali ed urbani, per ri-orientare la politica dei trasporti verso obiettivi di sostenibilità, al fine di garantire una complessiva crescita della mobilità e, nel contempo, una significativa riduzione dei costi ambientali ad essa associati.

Copertina

Vol 4, N° 1 (2011): Unità d’Italia e Mobilità

L’unificazione italiana nel 1861 è stata l’inizio di grandi modifiche all’interno del paese, ha cominciato, tra gli altri, un processo di unificazione della rete di mobilità nazionale, per lungo tempo fossilizzata all’interno dei confini dei diversi stati . Il processo di unificazione si è basata sulle reti esistenti; il risultato fu che le aree attrezzate con le reti più avanzate sono state favorite, mantenendo la propria supremazia nella competizione con le aree meno sviluppate. Lo sviluppo della rete nazionale si è basata, per molto tempo, sul miglioramento della rete ferroviaria. Solo dopo l’inizio della motorizzazione di massa, dopo la seconda guerra mondiale, la rete autostradale ha prevalso assorbendo, a partire dagli anni Sessanta, la maggior parte degli investimenti nazionali.L’obiettivo di questo numero di TeMA è quello di indagare lo stato dei sistemi di mobilità in Italia secondo una prospettiva storica. L’unità italiana è stata, infatti, una opportunità rilevante per influenzare profondamente diversi settori, tra cui quello delle infrastrutture.

2010

Copertina

Selected Papers 2010

This special number is a selection of papers published in TeMA 2010 volume and is the second item completely in English. The selected papers are works previosly published in Italian and now presented in a different layout collected into a unique item.
Copertina

Vol 3, N° 4 (2010): Small/Large Urban Projects

Questo quarto numero dell’anno 2010 vuole fare il punto, con la illustrazione di progetti e casi di studio, sui processi di integrazione della progettazione e quindi della realizzazione delle infrastrutture di trasporto, puntuali o lineari, con gli interventi di trasformazione della città e del territorio. Nel vasto panorama degli interventi progettati o realizzati in questi ultimi anni, in Italia e all’estero, abbiamo privilegiato le due tipologie che consentono una sintesi più immediata degli approcci, dei sistemi di intervento, delle soluzioni progettuali adottate e dei problemi non risolti che questa metodologia pone in essere: i Large scale projects e gli Small projects.

Copertina

Vol 3, N° 3 (2010): Moving for Leisure

Partendo dalla consapevolezza che lo spostamento sia una condizione necessaria allo svolgimento della pratica turistica tout court e di quella urbana in particolare, il numero affronta il tema della mobilità turistica nelle aree urbane, analizzando alcuni principali interventi messi in campo per adattare l’offerta di trasporto alle richieste di un’utenza temporanea ma con una forte incidenza sul bilancio economico della città.
Copertina

Vol 3, N° 2 (2010): City Logistics

Il numero affronta il tema della city logistics, ovvero di quel settore della logistica che studia ed attua soluzioni per l’ottimizzazione del trasporto delle merci nelle aree urbanizzate. In un’epoca in cui il fenomeno dell’urbanizzazione è a livelli mai prima raggiunti la city logistics rappresenta un tema di grande attualità sia per il trasporto merci, attività essenziale per la sopravvivenza delle persone, che per la qualità della vita, atteso che il trasporto in genere e quello delle merci in particolare sono tra le cause principali dell’inquinamento ambientale.
Copertina

Vol 3, N° 1 (2010): Urban Planning and Mobility

Urban Planning and Mobility propone un approfondimento sul tema del governo integrato trasporti-territorio. Questa forma di coordinamento deve essere finalizzata al raggiungimento di un equilibrio tra le politiche urbanistiche come input per la programmazione dei sistemi di trasporto, mantenendo salda l’ipotesi che il sistema di trasporto è un determinante per l’evoluzione del sistema territoriale.

2009

Copertina

Vol 2 (2009): Selected Papers 2009

This special number is a selection of papers published in TeMA 2009 volume and is the first item completely in English. The selected papers are works previosly published in Italian and now presented in adifferent layout collected into a unique item.
Copertina

Vol 2, N° 4 (2009): Flussi Metropolitani

Il numero Flussi Metropolitani propone un approfondimento sul tema della mobilità alla scala sovra-comunale ed in particolare sul sistema di relazioni esistenti tra i processi di espansione metropolitana e il ruolo della rete e dei sistemi di mobilità. L’espansione della città alla scala metropolitana modifica l’organizzazione dello spazio territoriale e dei sistemi coinvolti, in particolare quelli residenziali, ambientali, produttivi, delle attrezzature e dei servizi pubblici; non ultimo il sistema della mobilità, che innerva i territori e ne caratterizza l’efficienza, al punto che, in molti casi, i ritardi infrastrutturali arrivano a condizionarne l’organizzazione e la competitività.
Copertina

Vol 2, N° 3 (2009): Porto, mare e città

Questo numero di TeMA propone un approfondimento sul rapporto tra la città e il mare. L’idea guida è quella di considerare i waterfront urbani e i nodi portuali come aree di confine e allo stesso tempo di cerniera tra le aree metropolitane e il mare. I fronti marittimi urbani e le aree portuali, proiettati sul mare e parte integrante del contesto territoriale in cui sono localizzati, “aree sensibili” sia in termini fisico-funzionali che di pianificazione e gestione.

Copertina

Vol 2, N° 2 (2009): Mobilità e sicurezza

Questo numero di TeMA fornisce un approfondimento sul tema della sicurezza applicato ai sistemi di trasporto, che, come attrezzature di importanza strategica alla vita quotidiana delle comunità, costituiscono elementi esposti ad elevata vulnerabilità sia in relazione all’uso degli stessi, sia rispetto al verificarsi di fenomeni calamitosi. Il numero affronta i diversi aspetti del tema della sicurezza applicato ai sistemi di trasporto di persone e merci, per i diversi modi di trasporto e con differenti approcci.

Copertina

Vol 2, N° 1 (2009): Politiche della sosta e città

Il numero fornisce elementi di riflessione ed approfondimento sul ruolo del governo della sosta per la mobilità sostenibile nelle aree urbane, illustrando metodi, strategie, strumenti ed interventi da implementare attraverso lo studio della recente bibliografia e l’analisi di best pratices nazionali e internazionali.

2008

Copertina

Vol 1, N° 3 (2008): Soft Mobility

Il numero affronta il tema della mobilità dolce (pedonale e ciclabile) alla scala urbana e alla scala vasta, attraverso riflessioni toeriche e studio di pratiche innovative in Italia ed in Europa.

Copertina

Vol 1, N° 2 (2008): Mobilità e grandi eventi

Il numero affronta il tema della pianificazione e gestione dei sistemi di trasporto e della mobilità in occasione dei grandi eventi. Attraverso riflessioni teoriche ed applicazioni, si analizzano le scelte messe in campo per rispondere alla necessità sia di rendere accessibile l’area dell’esposizione a grandi flussi di visitatori, sia di integrare le nuove opere nel disegno di sviluppo della città.

Copertina

Vol 1, N° 1 (2008): High Speed Cities

Questo numero della rivista affronta un argomento di grande interesse per chi vuole studiare le relazioni tra sistemi urbani e sistema della mobilità: le High Speed Cities. L’obiettivo è riflettere sui molteplici effetti, non ancora sufficientemente indagati, che l’entrata in esercizio dell’Alta Velocità ferroviaria può avere, da diversi punti di vista e a diverse scale, sull’organizzazione spaziale e funzionale dei sistemi urbani coinvolti.

2007

Copertina

Vol 1 (2007): Numero Zero

Con il numero zero di TeMA, ed il lancio della nuova rivista l’intenzione è dare il nostro contributo alla costruzione di nuove competenze, scientifiche e allo stesso tempo professionali, su uno degli argomenti di sempre maggior interesse per chi studia e opera nei settori delle trasformazioni fisiche della città e del territorio: l’integrazione tra le discipline che studiano le trasformazioni urbane e quelle che affrontano le tematiche del governo della mobilità. Direi di più, forse è arrivato il momento di porci un obiettivo più ambizioso: costruire un nuovo corpus di conoscenze teorico-metodologiche che, superando gli steccati che segnano il confine – del tutto apparente – tra queste discipline, sia in grado di formulare soluzioni nuove ai problemi che oggi continuiamo ad affrontare con i vecchi arnesi della cultura scientifica del secolo scorso.

Journal Citation Metrics

Google has released new rankings of journal citations (using the H5 index. “The h5-index, h5-core, and h5-median of a publication are, respectively, the h-index, h-core, and h-median of only those of its articles that were published in the last five complete calendar years.” The h-index is “the largest number h such that at least h articles in that publication were cited at least h times each. For example, a publication with five articles cited by, respectively, 17, 9, 6, 3, and 2, has the h-index of 3.”).

Two areas of interest to readers of this blog include:

Urban Studies & Planning

and

Transportation

While the rankings do not align exactly with what you might get from other sources (in particular classification of journal articles into particular venues), it is not totally surprising. It would be nice to go deeper with this than the top 20.

The index itself is biased toward large journals with lots of articles, assuming quality is fixed, as it is easier to have 50 papers cited 50 times if you publish 50 papers than if you publish 40 papers.

How Planners Deal with Uncomfortable Knowledge:

Bent Flyvbjerg writes a paper about writing a paper (or more precisely, a paper about promoting a paper):

Abstract: With a point of departure in the concept “uncomfortable knowledge,” this article presents a case
study of how the American Planning Association (APA) deals with such knowledge. APA was
found to actively suppress publicity of malpractice concerns and bad planning in order to sustain a
boosterish image of planning. In the process, APA appeared to disregard and violate APA’s own
Code of Ethics. APA justified its actions with a need to protect APA members’ interests, seen as
preventing planning and planners from being presented in public in a bad light. The current article
argues that it is in members’ interest to have malpractice critiqued and reduced, and that this best
happens by exposing malpractice, not by denying or diverting attention from it as APA did in this
case. Professions, organizations, and societies that stifle critique tend to degenerate and become
socially and politically irrelevant “zombie institutions.” The article asks whether such degeneration
has set in for APA and planning. Finally, it is concluded that more debate about APA’s ethics and
actions is needed for improving planning practice. Nine key questions are presented to
constructively stimulate such debate.

Highlights:

>A study of moral hypocrisy with the American Planning Association (APA).

>”APA seriously breached its own ethics”, according to JAPA editor.

>APA is found to deny and divert evidence of malpractice and bad planning.

>APA’s hypocrisy is shown to place transparency and billions of dollars of citizens’ money at risk.

>Nine points for debate aimed at reducing hypocrisy with APA and improving ethics in planning.

Keywords: Planning, uncomfortable knowledge, moral hypocrisy, professional ethics, planning
ethics, malpractice, the American Planning Association, Journal of the American Planning
Association.

Several comments:

0. In general I like Flybjerg’s work and have cited it. However no journal or professional organization I am a member of has ever gone to any lengths to promote any of my papers. I am not sure that specific article promotion is the proper role of APA or other professional associations. Aside from being a bit unseemly, giving excess attention to one paper necessarily detracts attention from other papers. While inevitably the scientific and practicing community will come to conclude which papers are important, the quality of “significance” should not be a criteria for publication (or in my view, article promotion).

1. I am no longer a member of APA or AICP (though I did pass the AICP exam many years ago), primarily because of the benefit/cost proposition of membership. I did not see any professional value to membership personally, and at >$300 per year, this was a non-trivial cost (I now see where some of my money was going). Similarly I do not attend the very expensive APA conference except when somebody comps my registration, as when it was in Minneapolis. I am inclined to think a lot of professional certification is a racket. (Professionals of course should engage in continuing education, and we need ways of accurately assessing professional ability, the licensing game is excessive. In the beginning, who assessed the assessors?)

2. I have withdrawn a couple of papers from JAPA because of failure to review, though this is a competence issue which I believe the new editors are aiming to rectify. Still unhappy having lost a few years of review time with a journal not doing its job.

3. Professor Flyvbjerg has been critiqued elsewhere (Retraction Watch) for dual publication (an ethical problem, as when submitting papers to journals it is expected they have never before been published in peer-reviewed journals, and simultaneous review is also verboten. However given journal’s failure to respond, it is possible that one thinks the paper has been rejected when it hasn’t. I don’t know the circumstances in this case.).

4. There is a certain irony in this paper being published in an Elsevier journal.

5. Chuck Marohn at Strong Towns has made ethical critiques of American Society of Civil Engineers.

6. Mike Spack has made ethical critiques of Institute of Transportation Engineers for not making its basic tools open access.

Property Tax on Privatized Roads

PropertyTax
Recently published:

  • Junge, Jason and David Levinson (2013)
    Property Tax on Privatized Roads.
    Research in Transportation Business and Management. [doi]
    Roads cover a significant fraction of the land area in many municipalities. The public provision of roads means this land is exempt from the local property tax. Transferring roads from public to private ownership would not only remove maintenance costs from city budgets, but increase potential property tax revenue as well. This paper calculates the value of the land occupied by roads in sample cities and determines the potential revenue increase if they were subject to property tax. Further calculation computes the extent to which the property tax rate could be reduced if the land value of roads were added to the tax base.

    JEL code: R40, R11, R14

    Keywords: tax, land value, locational analysis, transportation finance

Black Holes: A brief treatise on the nature of journal publications and the conditions necessary for formation of black holes in networks of scholarly communication.

BlackHole
Academia should be faster than it is. This especially applies to the transportation and planning journals with which I am familiar. It often takes more than a year to do less than 8 hours of work (reviews and editorial decision-making).
Some peer reviewed journals (which will remain nameless in this post) are best described as Black Holes. Articles are submitted to be reviewed and never escape. There may or may not be an acknowledgment of receipt. The paper may or may not have been sent to reviewers. The reviewers may or may not have acknowledged receiving the paper in a timely fashion. They may or may not conduct the review in a timely fashion. Some reviewers might do their job, but the editor may be waiting on the slow reviewer before making a decision.
There are several causes for this black hole:

  1. Authors – Why would you be foolish enough to place your trust in an editor you don’t know? But of course, for graduate students and tenure track faculty, what choice do you have when your career is determined by success in the publication game? In this game, the author is in general the supplicant. If the author is famous, the situation might be reversed, and the editor should be seeking your paper to make their journal stronger, but given there are well over 1 million peer-reviewed journal articles published each year (and I guess 2x that submitted), and only 20,000 Scopus indexed journals, the average journal has leverage over the average author.
  2. Reviewers – Why would I do free labor for a stranger (the Editor) for a community I don’t know (prospective readers) to help an anonymous person (the Author)? Why would I do it quickly?
    • The noble answer is to stay on top of cutting edge research.
    • A plausible answer is the opportunity to ensure your own work is properly referenced. Though this might appear sketchy to you as an author when reviewers say cite X, Y, and Z (and reveal themselves), yet you as an author will still cite these works in the revised manuscript, and it looks perfectly natural to the reader. This motivates the reviewer and raises the citation rate of the reviewer’s own works.
    • Another answer is to accumulate social capital.
      Where exactly do I redeem the social capital I am accumulating? Where is the social capital bank:
      Editors write promotion (or immigration!) letters in support of good, quick, helpful reviewers. Editors might more favorably view the papers of helpful reviewers. Editors might more favorably review proposals of helpful reviewers. Editors might be more likely to nominate good reviewers for awards. Editors might nominate good reviewers to an Editorial Advisory Board and bestow upon them some prestige. The reviewer might be an editor elsewhere and be able to “return the favor”. But all of this is probabilistic and a bit vaporous. Journals sometimes publish list of reviewers. In any case, a list of (self-reported) number of reviews by journal is one of the beans that is counted in the promotion and tenure process.
  3. Editors – What leverage do I have over unpaid labor (reviewers) and why should I care personally about ungrateful authors who have submitted an unready paper to my journal which will almost inevitably not be accepted the first round. The leverage is future favors I might bestow in advancement of potential reviewers (see above). This indicates Editors should favor graduate students and assistant professors as reviewers over full professors. Unfortunately full professors are more famous and more likely to be selected to do reviews. I am personally running at a rate of about 100 review requests per year now. If I were really famous, I would need to decline far more than I do now. If I were really, really famous, I would not have time to decline requests (or perhaps I would have staff decline requests for me).

So there is a social network at play in this process, and if any link breaks between author and editor, between editor and reviewer, or back from reviewer to editor or editor to author, the circuit is not complete, the paper entered the system, and like a light from a black hole, cannot escape.
This is one reason I like journals that have check to automatically track publication status, nag reviewers, and have quick turnaround times. This is one reason I like the idea of “desk reject”. It is much better to be rejected immediately then after 6, 9, 18, 24 months of review. Fast has value.
There is a second black hole, not quite as large, dealing with accepted papers that have yet to be formatted for publication. This is usually solved by an online “articles in press” or “online first” section of the journal website. The advantage to the journal of this is the ability for papers to accumulate citations before they are actually “published”, thereby gaming the ISI impact factors, which look at the number of citations in the first 2 years from publication.
A major problem with looking at 2 years when journals are slow is apparent. I cite only papers published before I submit my paper. If it takes 2 years to accept and publish, I will not have included any papers from the past two years. Therefore slow fields have lower impact factors than fast fields. This feeds the notion (in a positive feedback way) that these fields are sleepy backwaters of scientific research rather than cutting edge fields where people care about progress.
To break the black holes I have a couple of ideas:

  1. A “name and shame” open database (or even a wiki) which tracks article submissions by journal, so that authors have a realistic assessment of review, and possibly re-review and publication times. Also the amount of time in the author’s hands for revision would be tracked.
  2. Money to pay reviewers and editors to act in a timely fashion and publication charges to finance open scholarly communication. A few journals pay reviewers. When I get one of those, I am far more likely to review quickly than when I get requests from other journals, especially for journals outside my core area, especially when the likelihood of withdrawing social capital is minimal. Other journals charge authors and use the funds to speed the process (but as far as I know these journals don’t pay reviewers). Of course, we need to be clear to avoid “pay to play”. Libraries could help here, redirecting funds from the traditional subscription model to a new open access model, helping their university’s authors publish in truly open access journals. The new federal initiative will hopefully tip the balance.

We all know the journal system as we have known it is unlike to survive as is for the next 100 years. It is surprising it is lasted as long as it has, but academia is one of the last guilds.
There are lots of cool models out there beyond the traditional library pays for subscription of expensive journal: from open access journals with sponsors (JTLU), author fees (PLOS_One), membership (PeerJ), decentralized archives (RePEc), and centralized electronic archives arXiv.
Yet we need some way of separating the wheat from the chaff, and peer-review, as imperfect as it is, has advantages over the open internet where any crank can write a blog post.
Eventually time will act as a filter, but peer-review, the review of papers by experts to filter out the poorly written, the wrong, the repetitive and the redundant, can save readers much time.

Titling Articles

A number of papers in the academic literature use words in the title like: Understanding, Examining, Studying, Determining, Assessing, Modeling, Evaluating, Impacts of, Effects of, etc. I am guilty of this myself in some papers where insufficient thought goes into the name. Often these words can be eliminated.
There is no formula for good titles. There are however statistics on what types of words and punctuation marks lead to better or worse citation rates (Huggett 2011). As a simple illustration, there is a reason Adam Smith’s “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” is shortened to “Wealth of Nations”.
In titles, as in life, Omit Needless Words.
References
Huggett, Sarah (2011) Heading for success: or how not to title your paper. Research Trends #24.