Perfectionist professors have lower research productivity, study shows

Perfectionism is sometimes viewed as a positive personality trait to be rewarded or reinforced, but Dalhousie University psychology professor Simon Sherry believes it is mostly a self-defeating behaviour, wrote University Affairs, Jan. 12.

In professors, the effect can be particularly pernicious: in a new study, Sherry and colleagues found that perfectionism leads to lower research productivity. The findings suggest that professors who display a higher level of perfectionism are less likely to produce publications, garner citations or publish their research in high-impact journals.

To investigate the issue, he and colleagues Gordon Flett of York University’s Faculty of Health and Paul Hewitt of the University of British Columbia studied the link between perfectionism and research productivity among psychology professors working at universities in the US and Canada. They limited it to their own profession to simplify the logistics and restricted it to universities with graduate programs in psychology.

They contacted 10,000 professors, of whom 1,258 responded using an online survey. The researchers found a “robust correlation” between increased perfectionism and decreased research productivity in the respondents. A higher level of perfectionism was associated with a lower number of total publications and a lower number of first-authored publications. It was also associated with a lower number of citations and a track record of publishing in journals with a lower impact rating.

York educator provides guidance for Catholic schools on inclusiveness

Catholic high schools meet [the need to welcome gay and lesbian students] through existing clubs, such as those geared to addressing bullying and violence in the schools, as well as clubs working with guidance counsellors and chaplains to focus on healthy relationships, wrote the Ottawa Citizen Jan. 12, citing comments by Tom D’Amico, a superintendent for the Ottawa Catholic School Board. D’Amico said there is also ongoing training for staff, as well as equity and inclusive education plans for each school that highlight areas needing improvement, such as homophobic bullying.

It’s an approach that seems to be working, according to Chris D’Souza, who received a standing ovation last year after making a presentation to the board’s principals and senior staff on diversity and inclusion. “They’ve been extremely receptive and open to learning about the complexities of equity and diversity and they are quite willing to implement practical curriculum strategies,” he said.

D’Souza, who teaches a course on building inclusive classrooms for would-be teachers at York University’s Faculty of Education, said people should not mistake the teachings of the Catholic Church with the mandate of the publicly funded Catholic school boards. “Just because we’re Catholic doesn’t mean we are anti-homosexual or against the eradication of homophobia,” he said. “It’s the right-wing Christian groups and some of the other right-wing fundamentalists whose ideology bleeds over or taints Catholic education systems.”

National book count aims to show that books count

While books suffer from an outdated, impractical, elitist image, recent work in cognitive science is prompting a re-evaluation of reading’s value and power, wrote The Globe and Mail Jan. 12 in a story about next week’s TD Reading Summit in Montreal.

“A lot of the research on reading has dealt with how it improves vocabulary and verbal ability,” said Raymond Mar, a psychology professor in the Faculty of Health at York University. “But now we’re starting to see how it might help make us better moral citizens.”

Mar studies how a reader immersed in literary fiction displays keener empathy skills and scores higher on social-ability tests in which decoding non-verbal cues is proof of an agile mind. He cites research on small children who’ve reached the stage where they begin to understand how other people have different mental states from their own. “The more storybooks they had was a predictor of how they did in understanding,” he said.

That makes sense to anyone who has had the experience of being completely lost in a good book. But for those who require scientific backup, Mar points to neuroimagery studies that show how some parts of the brain process both the reading of fiction and the understanding of how other people think and feel.

Ottawa faulted for alleged political interference in Tamil asylum cases

A “persuasive decision” memorandum issued by Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) claiming that Tamils, particularly young males, will not be prosecuted in Sri Lanka because of their political opinions, was condemned as biased, and was questioned as to whether political interference from Ottawa prompted the IRB to highlight a ruling that rejected the claim of a young Tamil immigrant, wrote Jan. 12. The notice labelled the decision as “persuasive”, encouraging future adjudications to arrive at a similar ruling in Tamil refugee cases that were similar to the one highlighted by the IRB.

Sean Rehaag, a refugee law expert at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said it seems as if IRB managers issue notices of “persuasive decisions” during politically charged climates, which raises a perception of bias and a perception that the IRB is trying to manage controversy, according to the Vancouver Sun.

Glendon prof weighs in on Arizona shooting debate

Without advancing a shred of evidence and even admitting that he had none, Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a lifelong Democrat, nevertheless felt himself competent to declare that extremist rhetoric from the right was responsible for the Arizona shootings, wrote Terry Heinrichs, professor of political science at York’s Glendon College, in a letter to the National Post Jan. 11. This is the same man who last year went on the tube to say that the Arizona immigration law was both “stupid” and “racist” and that he would not enforce it.

For the mainstream media, however, it only counts when Republicans or Tea Partyites do it, even if the incidents are likely fabricated. Take the claims by Democrats Emanuel Cleaver and James Clyburn that they were spat upon and subjected to racist slurs in front of the Capitol steps last year. No proof of these events has yet been produced, even though journalist Andrew Breitbart has offered to pay $100,000 to anyone who can produce the required evidence.

Yes, there is indeed a problem with political discourse concerning the shootings, but it doesn’t stem from Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh or their ilk. It stems from Democratic political operatives and their partisan media hacks using the horrific events in Arizona to suit their immediate political objectives.

Schulich team finishes second in accounting competition

York University’s Schulich School of Business, represented by Cynthia Hung, Kazim Rizvi and Soobia Haider, took second place in the annual Battle for CA$H accounting competition held by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario, wrote The Mississauga News Jan. 11.

York grad is Guyana’s new ambassador to Venezuela

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday announced that the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has granted Agrément (permission) to the Government of Guyana for the appointment of Geoffrey Da Silva (BA Gen. Hons. ‘79) as the new Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Guyana to Venezuela, wrote Guyana’s Kaieteur News Jan. 12.

Da Silva is a politician and administrator in Guyana who served as the minister of trade, tourism and industry from 1999 to 2001, and now serves as head of Guyana Investment (Go-Invest). Da Silva has a degree from York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

He was also an employee of the Communist Party of Canada in the 1980s, and ran as a candidate of the Communist Party at the federal and provincial levels. He was Guyana’s consul general to Toronto in the 1990s.