For American readers: NSF-DEB has issued a new program solicitation for its core programs. There don’t appear to be any real changes — they are keeping the preproposals, and the limit on two preproposals per year.
And, for people who get frustrated about being called by the wrong title (which definitely includes me at times), here is perhaps the perfect response. The last line of this (written in response to an academic being called “Miss” by a journal) is excellent.
Bit late on this, but still wanted to link to it. Bob O’Hara has a nice post asking what’s the point of altmetrics? “Impact”, “influence”, and “quality”, important as they all are, are just not the sorts of things that one can easily summarize in one number. But that doesn’t mean they can be summarized in several different numbers either. I love numbers, but there are lots of things in life that you can’t put numbers on, not because of lack of the right data or the right summary metrics, but because they’re just not the sort of thing you can put numbers on. At least not good enough numbers to be worth caring all that much about. My love for my family and friends, my worth as a person–and the quality and influence of my science. And no, imperfect or incomplete numbers are not necessarily better than no numbers at all–they could well be worse, for various reasons. (For a contrary view, here’s the website of a recent PLoS altmetrics development workshop.) (UPDATE: My remarks on altmetrics are deliberately provocative, but on re-reading the post I think they’re also a bit unclear and imprecise. Let me try to clarify a bit. What I, and Bob, are basically questioning is what “latent variable”, if any, citation metrics are measuring, either individually or collectively. It’s fine to measure how often a paper’s been cited, or downloaded, or tweeted, or whatever. It’s fine to measure those things, and I can imagine reasons why you might want to measure those things. What I have a problem with is thinking of those measures, individually or collectively, as some kind of index of some very important but very loosely-defined latent variable such as “influence”, “quality”, or “importance”. Things like “scientific influence”, important as they are, can’t be defined precisely enough to be usefully thought of as “latent variables” that we might capture with one or a few numerical indices. So when talking about altmetrics, I prefer to just think about them at a literal level–as measures of how often papers are cited, or downloaded, or tweeted, or whatever.)
SpotOn London (Science Policy, Outreach, and Tools ONline) is holding its annual conference this weekend (Nov. 11-12, 2012). Many of the sessions will be streamed live online, including this interesting-looking one (co-organized by the above-mentioned Bob O’Hara) on the future of scientific journals. The session asks whether the advent of “megajournals” like PLoS ONE is likely to lead to a two-tier journal system, how to filter the literature in a world where journal “brand” no longer helps, and more. The first question is something I wondered about last week. For reasons I also discussed last week, I suspect the answer to the second question is “journal ‘brand’ will always be an important filter, but in the future only the top-tier journals in any field will have ‘brands’ anyone cares about”.
This one’s rather far from our usual territory here at Dynamic Ecology, but too provocative to resist. Think linking disastrous weather events like Hurricane Sandy to climate change will greatly affect US public opinion or policy on climate change? Well, as these two pictures illustrate, good luck with that…
Also far from our usual territory, but too amazing too resist. The winners of the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest, run by London’s Natural History Museum, have been announced. I have fond memories of going to see the annual exhibit of the winning pictures when I was a postdoc in London. To see some of the winning images, go here, here, or here (the last one is a link to the full gallery of winners, which should be in a single big slideshow or image gallery but isn’t). This image from the exhibit is an illustration of what happened when I expressed skepticism about the value of live-tweeting talks. And here’s what it would have looked like if someone had photographed me while I was writing my first zombie ideas post.
From the archives: