Outstanding Academic Titles 2021: Top Read 2021 OAT Reviews Part 1

Enjoy these five selections from the Choice Reviews 2020 Outstanding Academic Titles list. This week we highlight part one of the most read 2021 OAT reviews.

1. MLA handbook 9th ed
Modern Language Association of America, 2021

English teachers rejoice! This eagerly awaited edition’s first section dictates how to format a research project, including margins, running heads, and placement of the works cited list. Even better, it provides much-needed information on basic grammar. Readers actually see the words subject, verb, and object in print. “When a Comma Is Necessary” and “When a Comma Is Incorrect” alone are worth the price of admission. Very welcome is an entirely new section called “Principles of Inclusive Language,” which gently guides students away from language bias and toward more neutral or compassionate treatment of age, race, gender, culture, or disability.

Responding to our increasingly online and paper-free learning environments, guidelines on electronic submission are now included. The section on plagiarism has been slightly expanded. Specific examples of common knowledge would have been helpful; this is a concept often difficult for students to grasp without concrete illustration. In-depth explanations of the core elements of a citation are extremely helpful.
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2. The Impacts of racism and bias on Black people pursuing careers in science, engineering, and medicine : proceedings of a workshop
ed. by Cato T. Laurencin National Academies Press, 2020

This volume of proceedings reflects recorded presentations and discussions from a virtual workshop held in April 2020 to explore the role played by racism and bias in furthering the underrepresentation of Black Americans in STEM professions, especially medicine. Introduced by distinguished surgeon, biomedical innovator, and editor Laurencin (Univ. of Connecticut), the workshop was organized by the Roundtable on Black Men and Black Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine, established in 2017 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine under Laurencin’s leadership. Convened just one month before the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the workshop speaks importantly to our current time. Chapters follow the workshop agenda, with highlights of the presentations including keynote remarks by epidemiologist Camara Phyllis Jones (chapter 2), who characterized racism as a system of power and identified how it works at three different levels: institutionalized, personally mediated, and internalized. Overviews of workshop discussions include footnotes to important references.

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3. Adverse events : race, inequality, and the testing of new pharmaceuticals
Fisher, Jill A. New York University, 2020

Adverse Events is a rigorous text that examines how Phase I clinical trials on new pharmaceuticals (drug candidates) are carried out in the US. Human participants in these trials are selected from a pool of healthy volunteers, with the intent to control potential “adverse effects” that could result from taking the medications. In this study, Fisher (Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) documents how such trials are actually conducted through interviews with volunteers and participating staff. The economic, corporate, and administrative context of clinical trial facilities is examined, along with the priorities of pharmaceutical companies involved. This book presents weighty implications relative to current US economic and employment arrangements, since in practice most healthy volunteers are men drawn from socially disadvantaged groups (the unemployed, immigrants, racial/ethnic minorities) and/or who live in economically disadvantaged communities. The high rate of compensation is attractive to volunteers, despite the health risks involved and a highly controlled clinical setting that resembles incarceration.. View on Amazon

4. Settler colonialism, race, and the law : why structural racism persists
Saito, Natsu Taylor. New York University, 2020

Saito’s Settler Colonialism, Race, and the Law is an insightful analysis of the structural racism that continues to shape the lives of millions of people in settler societies like the US. An accomplished legal scholar, Saito (College of Law, Georgia State Univ.) traverses some familiar historical ground in reflecting on the tension between indigenous sovereignty and the rights discourse of liberal democracies. Saito builds on anthropologist/ethnographer Patrick Wolfe’s often-cited argument that settler societies are structured around the elimination of indigenous nations. This formulation provides the foundation for Saito’s analysis of the economic, legal, and political structures that continue to perpetuate income inequality and gender and racial discrimination in the US. These aspects of settler colonialism are manifested in the internal colonization of Black and Asian American people. Saito makes a compelling case for how the “dynamic of difference” (the focus of chapter 5) continues to structure virtually every facet of life in the US.
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5Everyday bias : identifying and navigating unconscious judgments in our daily lives updated ed
Ross, Howard J. Rowman & Littlefield, 2020

Often times books on implicit bias locate it in individual minds, without taking into consideration the social environments that promote bias. Ross (cofounder of Udarta Consulting) approaches unconscious bias as a natural cognitive mechanism exhibited by all humans, the remnant of an evolutionary need for survival. However, Ross also acknowledges that bias is driven by the cultural spaces one occupies, and is embedded in social institutions (e.g., legal, health care). In this book Ross uses research from social and medical sciences to support explanations of how unconscious bias is manifested in everyday life. One of the strongest aspects of the book is that its last two chapters are devoted to suggestions for how people can combat expressions of their own individual bias, as well as providing steps that organizations can take to combat bias while making decisions about talent. The appendix expands on organizational solutions by providing more ways to identify and navigate bias in talent management.
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