Author profile - Professor Allison Littlejohn

We interview Professor Allison Littlejohn, Director of the Caledonian Academy at Glasgow Caledonian University, UK; who shares her thoughts and views on what it is like to be an author

 Professor Allison LittlejohnProfessor Allison Littlejohn is Director of the Caledonian Academy at Glasgow Caledonian University, UK, a research centre exploring technology enhanced professional learning in the public and private sectors. She is also Chair of Learning Technology at Glasgow Caledonian University. Professor Littlejohn's research in Technology Enhanced Professional Learning is with a range of academic and industry partners, most notably Royal Dutch Shell, for whom she was Senior Researcher 2008-2010, Conoco Phillips and BP. She has published over 100 academic articles, including two books, and is founding Series Editor for the Routledge 'Connecting with eLearning' series.

1. What do you enjoy most about being an author?

Connecting with people around the world. Writing is a powerful way to connect with others. It's always wonderful to hear from people who have read one of my papers and want to discuss ideas.

2. What advice would you give to a new author?

Plan a paper at the outset of every project. Target an audience and a specific journal. Planning the paper helps identify weaknesses in the logic and planning the research methods. Early planning also eases the writing process. It's a win-win situation.

3. What would you change about the scientific journal publishing industry if you could?

I would speed up the time it takes from writing and submitting an article to getting it into print. The rate of change in most scientific fields is accelerating, and, while the 'half-life' of knowledge is decreasing. So its important that discoveries and new ideas are in the public domain as quickly as possible. Peer review is an important aspect of publication and (understandably) slows down the publication process. Digital media not only speeds up this process, but redefines academic publishing and other forms of scholarly communication.

4. How do you think that the move from print to electronic publishing affects you as an author?

It's a gamechanger. Electronic publishing turns publication on its head. I seldom walk into a library these days. Rather, I think of my laptop as a window to libraries of relevant knowledge that I can search electronically, abstracting topics and trends at the push of a button. Similarly, the articles I have written and knowledge I have contributed is available for everyone else, increasing its impact on the field and on society at large.

5. What do you think about open access?

The more we open access and share knowledge the more we all gain as a society. My research explores professional learning through the open knowledge sharing processes advocated by the "open access movement". Open access to knowledge transforms learning, affording individual learners the opportunity to learn from the collective knowledge. Intelligent systems can guide people towards knowledge resources that help their learning. As these systems become even more sophisticated, I predict access will open beyond anything we can imagine.

6. What is your favourite quote?

"If you're teaching today what you were teaching five years ago either the field is dead or you are." (Noam Chomsky, 2012)

7. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

I started my career as a crystallographer and met Dorothy Hodgkins in the late 90s. She has always been an inspiration to me as an activist, a brilliant researcher and a woman who shook her field and changed the future.

8. What do you like to do for fun?

Jamming sessions - not the digital kind, but acoustic folk music jams.

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