Archive for the ‘Faculty’ Category

Or VDM — Verlag Dr. Müller?

Or VDM Publishing House?

Or LAP Lambert Academic Publishing?

Or Südwestdeutsche Verlag für Hochschul schriften?

Or Verlag Classic Edition (VCE)?

Or Alphascript Publishing?

Ready for the answer, dear readers?  Okay:

They’re all the same entity.  And most of them are what Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware has dubbed ‘author mills.’  For a short description of what an author mill is, see this entry on Wikipedia.

Got it?  If you didn’t have time to read through those pages, let me sum it up for you:

VDM Verlag, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, and whatever they happen to be calling themselves today are publishing houses that publish on demand.  What does that mean, exactly?  Well, let’s say you’ve written something (like, for instance, your dissertation) that no publisher in his right mind would want to turn into a book and market.  But you really want that 300-page treatise to be a book.  The solution is simple — trot on over to VDM/LAP/whatever and ask them to publish it.  You sign over the rights, they print a few copies for you to give to your mum and dad, and then they list it on Amazon.com with a price tag of a hundred dollars or so.  If someone actually orders it, they’ll run off a copy and ship it out.  And maybe they’ll pay you some royalties at some point, but more likely not (Strauss, 2009).  Actually, you don’t even have to do the work of seeking these cats out — their cold-calling techniques are finely honed:  if you’ve written a dissertation (even a crappy one that barely passed), it’ll be on file with UMI.  The “publishers” will track you down, along with your committee members, and send you (and your committee) something that looks like this:

Dear Last Name, First Name,

I am writing on behalf of the International publishing house, Lambert Academic Publishing.

In the course of a research on the XYZ University, I came across a reference to your work in the field of ABC.

We are an International publisher whose aim is to make academic research available to a wider audience.

LAP Publishing would be especially interested in publishing your dissertation in the form of a printed book.

Your reply including an e-mail address to which I can send an e-mail with further information in an attachment will be greatly appreciated.

I look forward to hear from you

Kind regards,
Tatiana Zetu
Acquisition Editor
LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing AG & Co. KG
Dudweiler Landstraße 99, 66123 Saarbrücken Germany

Uh huh.  So the short version is this:  the published book on offer is really no different than having your dissertation on file at UMI or having UMI run off a few bound copies — because the idea of having a book published is that (and this is key) not just any Joe Schmo gets to have a book published. Think of it this way:  if you’re harbouring any illusions about being in some special set of academics-with-a-book once you’ve gone with VDM/LAP, you’re just in the same set you were before — that of academics-with-a-dissertation.  Which is pretty much everyone.  It ain’t that glamourous, folks.

Here’s what the nice people over at U Mass Amherst’s library have to say about it:

Umass Amherst recommends that students who would normally publish a monograph of their thesis or dissertation for promotion and tenure purposes should rely on more traditionally accepted / peer reviewed publishers within their respective fields for publishing opportunities.  This publishing venue uses a print-on-demand model and markets dissertations and theses through Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com and other large online booksellers.  Royalties are paid to authors when sufficient sales warrant.  VDM/Lambert Academic Publishing routinely contacts authors of dissertations and theses using information they get through ProQuest, the University, library catalogs, and other sources.  Authors should note that VDM/Lambert Academic Publishing requests exclusive distribution rights for versions that they publish.

Why have I spent all this time going on about VDM/LAP?  Simply because I noticed a few of them popped up on the publication lists of faculty members at UAEU.  Then I noticed a few more — at the American University of Sharjah, KUSTAR, the Petroleum Institute, and the University of Sharjah.  In most of the eighteen cases presented below, the VDM/LAP “book” is the only book publication these faculty have to show for themselves (one of them even has two – TWO!).  Not only does this show something less than real scholarly achievement, but if the following faculty (and their program chairs/deans/provosts/etc.) truly believe that these publications are meaningfully different than the Ph.D. that got them a job in the first place, it shows more than a little naïveté.

So while I would be supremely embarrassed walking into my western tenure review with a single book photocopied published by Dr. Müller and Friends (in that case, suicide would seem a felicitous alternative to the review), over here it’s likely that I’d be given a pat on the back and promoted.

Because, after all, this is Academics in the Desert.

And here’s sample based on about 30 minutes of research:

United Arab Emirates University:

Buldu, M. (2009). Constructivism in early childhood education. Teacher educator beliefs and practices. Cologne, Germany: LAP Lambert Academic Publishing AG & Co. KG

Elbanna, S. 2010. Making strategic decisions: A state of the art review and empirical evidence from a cultural perspective. Dudweiler Landstr: Lambert Academic Publishing.

Ahmed, F.; Capretz, L.F. & Campbell, P. (2009) Software Product Lines: A Process Assessment Methodology, A Practitioner’s Approach, VDM Verlag, Pages: 284, ISBN: 978-3-639-11908-4.

M. Adel Serhani, “A Framework and Methodology for Managing Quality of Web Services”, VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller e.K. (February 20, 2008), ISBN: 3836457679, 204 pages.

Ahmed, F.; Capretz, L.F. & Campbell, P. (2009) Software Product Lines: A Process Assessment Methodology, VDM Verlag, 2009, ISBN 978-3-639-11908-4.

American Univerisity of Sharjah:

New Media and Neo-Islamism: New Media’s Impact on the Political Culture in the Islamic World. Saarbrücken: Vdm Verlag Dr. Müller. 2007

Scholarly Book: Munir Majdalawieh, “Security Framework for Distributed Network Protocol (DNP3) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) System” Published by VDM Verlag ISBN 978-3-8364-7056-8, September 2008.

“In April [2009], Theme in Text: Weighing the Evidence, a book based on [Dr Peter Compton’s] doctoral dissertation, was published by Verlag Dr Müller, Saarbrucken.”

Dr. Sattar Izwaini (Arabic and Translation Studies) recently released his book Translation and The Language of Information Technology (Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag). The book is a study of the vocabulary of the language of information technology and how it is translated into Arabic and Swedish. One pioneering aspect of the book is how software and website interfaces are dealt with when translated.”

Al Satari, M., Estimation of Seismic Response Demands for R/C Framed Structures: An Insight Into The Nonlinear Seismic Behavior. (VDM Verlag, Saarbrücken, Germany, 2008), ISBN 978-3-639-04424.

Khalifa University:

Kamal Taha, Efficient Approaches for Querying XML Data: Keyword-Based, Personalized, and Distributed Queries, LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, May 2010, 160 pp.

Osama Fawwaz (2010), “Theoretical Calculation of the Electronic States of the Molecule Narb”, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, ISBN: 9783838376042.

G. W. Hitt, “Light-Ion Charge-Exchange Applied to Stellar Electron-Capture Studies” (book), LAP Academic Publishing, Saarbrucken, Germany (2010).

The Petroleum Institute:

Jing Lu,  Shawket  Ghedan,  Djebbar  Tiab, “Analytical  Solutions to Productivity and Pressure Transient Equations,”  ISBN 978-3-639-10320-5,  VDM  Verlag Publishing  Ltd., Saarbrucken,  Germany , September,  2010.

Jing Lu,  Djebbar  Tiab,  Productivity Equations for  Oil  Well – New Solutions Based on Three Dimensional Models, ISBN 978-3-639-15123-7,  VDM  Verlag Publishing  Ltd.,  Saarbrucken,  Germany , May,  2009.

Lim, H. L. (2008). Constructing learning conversations: Virtual collaborative learning processes in higher education. Germany: VDM Verlag. ISBN: 978-3639025583.

University of Sharjah (not American University of Sharjah):

Shoufan A., “High Performance Group Key Management, A Way to scalable Internet Television”, VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, Saarbrücken, 2007, ISBN: 978-3-8364-2128-7.

Ali Walid (2008) “2D/3D MultiAgent GeoSimulation: A Generic Method and its Application”. ISBN-10: 3836472295


n.a. (n.d.). Author Mill.  Wikipedia. Retrieved (23 Nov 2010) from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Author_mill

Strauss, V. VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Retrieved (21 Nov 2010) from http://www.sfwa.org/2009/09/victoria-strauss-vdm-verlag-dr-mueller/

University of Massachusetts Amherst.  (n.d.).  VDM/Lambert Academic Publishing.  Retrieved (20 Nov 2010) from http://guides.library.umass.edu/content.php?pid=110362&sid=832620

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Sorry I’ve been out of commission for the past couple of weeks.  I’m back.

As if the recently publicised withdrawal of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award weren’t damning enough:

It has come to Shiekh Zayed Book Award’s attention that some entities have raised serious concerns with respect the scientific research methodologies and ethics employed by the author, Dr. Hafnaoui Baali, in the book entitled “Comparative Cultural Criticism- an Introduction” the winning book of the Literature Category Award, in the Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s fourth session. (www.Zayedaward.com, n.d.)


The judges of the annual Sheikh Zayed Book Award have withdrawn the prize from this year’s winning author because of plagiarism. […] The committee in charge withdrew the award yesterday, saying the book contained “wrongful appropriation of other authors’ thoughts, ideas, and expressions, and the representation of them as one’s own original work”.  (Seaman, 27 Oct 2010)

But wait, there’s MORE.

Thanks to those excellent people over at the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Academics in the Middle East forum, I’ve come across the following retraction statement on InformaWorld (emphasis mine):

In Volume 34, Number 5 of Educational Studies, 2008 we published the following article, which is now retracted:

The effect of the child’s disability on United Arab Emirates in-service teachers’ educational decisions regarding gifted and talented children, pp 557 – 564 by Hala Elhoweris DOI: 10.1080/03055690802288536

Shortly following publication, it was brought to the attention of the Editors and the publishers that some sections of the text in this article substantially reproduced, without proper attribution, the following work:

The effects of disability labels on special education and general education teachers’ referrals for gifted programs, by Margarita Bianco, Learning Disability Quarterly, Volume 28, 2005, pp 285-293

The Editors of Educational Studies, and the publishers, Taylor & Francis Group (a division of Informa Plc) hereby apologise to Margarita Bianco and to the copyright holders of the publication in which the copied work was originally published – the Council for Learning Disabilities, of 11184 Antioch Road, Box 405, Overland Park, KS66210, USA- for this case of unattributed copying.

Educational Studies and Taylor & Francis Group published the article in good faith and we welcome this opportunity to acknowledge and reinstate the rights of Margarita Bianco as the original author and the copyright of Council for Learning Disabilities.

For those of you who don’t know, Dr Halla Elhoweris is a member of the faculty in the College of Education at United Arab Emirates University.  Here’s a handy link to her curriculum vitae:

Dr Halla Elhoweris’s CV

Just in case the link suddenly disappears, here’s a pdf of it for posterity.  My gift to you.

Elhoweris CV (pdf)

Note that Dr Elhoweris is also on editorial board of the Journal of Faculty of Education at UAEU.  And further note that the 2008 retracted article continues to appear on her list of publications.  And while I’m at it, let me also mention that nowhere have I seen an apology from either Dr Elhoweris or UAEU.

Interesting, eh?  (I won’t even go into the stories I’ve heard about emirati Ph.D. candidates ordering their underlings non-emirati colleagues to collect their data for them.)

But the Zayed Book Award and Educational Studies retractions are even more interesting given today’s story in The National about UAE researchers wanting more international recognition (Conroy, 6 Nov 2010) where things like culture, language, and competition are offered as problems standing in the way of getting published.

I put it to you there just might be another problem.


Conroy, E. (6 Nov 2010). UAE researchers want more recognition. The National. Retrieved (6 Nov 2010) from http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/education/uae-researchers-want-more-recognition

Elhoweris, H. (n.d.). UAEU Faculty Page. Retrieved (6 Nov 2010) from http://www.fedu.uaeu.ac.ae/doctors/Halla-Elhoweris.html

Seaman, A. (27 Oct 2010). Judges take back Dh750,000 Zayed literary prize. The National. Retrieved (6 Nov 2010) from http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/education/judges-take-back-dh750-000-zayed-literary-prize

Sheikh Zayed Book Award. (n.d.) Zayed Book Award withdraws literary award. Retrieved (6 Nov 2010) from http://www.zayedaward.com/en/News2D_en.aspx?NID=373

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The Ph.D. Fallacy (redux)

I heard a funny thing — actually, two funny things — from a friend the other day.  They’re really not funny by themselves, but in juxtaposition they send me over the edge (not to mention providing me with new fodder for Academics in the Desert).

Thing 1:
When confronted with the prospect that perhaps English Ph.D. holders weren’t really required to teach freshman English courses, a faculty member at an institution that will remain nameless commented that students deserve teachers with the highest possible degrees.

Thing 2:
A few days later, the same faculty member was overheard having a conference with a student.  The general theme of that conference was something along the lines of

This is not a sentence.  This is a fragment.  A sentence needs to have a subject and a verb.  This does not have a subject and a verb; therefore, it is not a sentence.

Uh huh.

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The Ph.D. Fallacy

The idea that a Ph.D. is necessary to teach such subjects as Math 101 (Calculus), Physics 101, or English 101 seems just plain stupid to me, but over here it’s the general way of thinking.  Take your average university in Abu Dhabi, and have a look at its employment ads.  Here are a few random examples:

Abu Dhabi University invites applications for the above position to be engaged in teaching undergraduate students.

Qualifications and Requirements:

  • An earned Doctorate from an accredited institute
  • A record of outstanding achievement in higher education and scholarship
  • University teaching experience complemented by a superior research and scholarly record
  • Excellent communication skills, a commitment to the importance of scholarship and diversity, a spirit of entrepreneurship and an understanding of the role of the university in economic development
  • Experience in working with people from different ethnic backgrounds
  • Computer literacy and familiarity with educational technologies are a must.
  • Excellent oral, written and multimedia communication and presentation skills
  • Fluency in spoken and written English is a must. Knowledge of Arabic is an asset.

Here’s another one:

Khalifa University

Main duties:

Teaching in engineering programs, developing curriculum, and establishing research programs in the area of specialization.

Required Qualifications:

Applicants must have a Ph.D. or equivalent degree by date of hire. For senior positions, applicants should havea proven track record of scholarly contributions and a proven ability to lead research projects. For junior positions, candidates should have demonstrated potential for quality teaching and research.

Interestingly, Khalifa University’s Sharjah campus is also looking for English Ph.D.s, but puts a different spin on it:

Khalifa University is seeking applications for faculty to teach Freshman Writing within an Engineering Degree Program. The communicative skills course focuses on using the standard rhetorical styles and report writing. Applications must have a Ph.D. or equivalent degree by date of hire. For senior positions, applicants should have a proven track record of scholarly contributions and a proven ability to lead research projects. For junior positions, candidates should have demonstrated potential for quality teaching and research.

The Petroleum Institute had a recent advert for ‘Communication’ faculty (read, Freshman comp and tech writing), and was also looking for Ph.D. holders, but that one’s disappeared from the ether.

And finally, the one sensible solicitation in the whole pot, is this from Zayed U:

Enthusiastic and experienced instructors are sought who are prepared to contribute to the University’s general education curriculum, the Colloquy on Integrated Learning. Delivered during the first three semesters of the baccalaureate program, the Colloquy builds students’ knowledge of the world in a skill-rich, interdisciplinary set of interrelated courses.

The Requirements

  • M.A. in Humanities, Social Sciences, Area Studies, or a related field.
  • A record of successful baccalaureate-level teaching in a Western or Western-style university or college.
  • Willingness to teach core courses with common assignments and expectations.
  • Native proficiency in written and spoken English.
  • Just in case you missed something:  TWO universities offering engineering degrees (and pretty much only engineering degrees) are demanding that their English faculty have doctoral degrees.  What sort of English teaching in a BSE program could possibly require a Ph.D. in English?  This is indeed perplexing, particularly when one considers three things:

    1. The courses most likely to be taught in the average BSE curriculum are Frosh Comp and Tech Writing.
    2. Frosh Comp and Tech Writing don’t demand a doctoral level of expertise in many U.S. institutions.
    3. Frosh Comp in the UAE, given the generally low level of student proficiency in English, might realistically be renamed “How to Write a Sentence.”

    And then there’s this other thing…

    Is an English Ph.D. holder really going to want to move halfway around the world to teach engineering students how to write a sentence?  Before you answer that one, have a quick peek at the titles of some recent English dissertations from a random U.S. institution (Cornell).  Yes, I picked that one out of a hat.

    Cornell English Dissertations

    I hope you had a good look at some of these — Finnegans Wake?  Filipino literature?  Liberal Englishness?  Ezra Pound?  Queers of Color?  I am really struggling to figure out what a middle eastern engineering school would presume to be able to offer them (aside from a healthy dose of censorship in a few cases)?

    Here’s some free advice, Abu Dhabi higher education:  go get yourself some crackerjack high school English teachers.  You’ll be better off, and so will your students.

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