Also this week: Plos One may be struggling, NEON is definitely struggling, musings on the MacArthur “genius awards”, and more
Last week’s Science had a series of news articles on how NEON is struggling. Here’s one. Indeed, judging from the articles, “struggling” is too mild a word.
From science on film to science on stage: writing in Nature, Philip Ball reviews Nicole Kidman as Rosalind Franklin in Photograph 51. Sigh; I remember when I could’ve gone to see this sort of thing rather than settling for reading about it. :-( Other reviews from the NY Times, the Guardian and Variety. The Variety review includes particularly thoughtful comments on the larger issues raised by the play. (Irrelevant aside: if I ever do something so great as to cause someone to make a play or a movie about me, I want to be played by Jeff Goldblum.)
How do MacArthur “genius grant” winners spend the money? It varies; Sally Otto is giving it away.
Speaking of the MacArthur genius grants, computational population geneticist John Novembre just got one.
Related: here are two pieces discussing whether the MacArthur awards go too often to people who are already established. And see the comments on the first piece, where a couple of people recommend former population ecologist and now “cliodynamicist” Peter Turchin for a MacArthur. What do you think? If you were writing $625,000 checks to a small number of people whom you hope will go on to do great scientific, artistic, or other world-improving work, to spend on anything they wanted, would you write any checks to ecologists? If so, who? And why?
Also related: here are your options for how to react when you don’t win a MacArthur. :-) (ht Crooked Timber). A sample:
“Well, it’s hard to get a MacArthur when so much of my work has been classified by Executive Order, anonymous by personal choice, or published under the pseudonym ‘Samuel Beckett.’ ” Taking this line has the advantage of not requiring you to be able to point to any unrecognized achievement in particular.
Is Plos One struggling? Their output has been plummeting. Their impact factor is declining (though that decline may be stabilizing). And now they’re raising their author charge to $1495. Which you’d think would further discourage submissions, though I have no idea by how much. I don’t actually know anything about the economics here. I’m just surprised that, with so many open access advocates trying to get publishing costs down, that Plos One would move in the other direction. Even if the stated reason is to invest in their infrastructure. Anybody know more about this? Is it possible that the real reason they’re raising the fee is to try to make up for the decline in submissions? (ht Retraction Watch)
Speaking of author pays open access publishing, its origin (at least when it comes to BioMed Central) is a hardheaded business calculation, not an idealistic passion for access. (ht Scholarly Kitchen)
A new study of the effects of open peer review (i.e. everybody involved knows the identities of the authors and reviewers), and of the use of reviewers suggested by authors. Uses various lines of comparative evidence. The evidence on open vs. single-blind review is mixed, which leads to the conclusion that open peer review isn’t clearly better or worse than single-blind review. Also finds that reviews by author-suggested reviewers are equal in quality to those of other reviewers on average, but that author-suggested reviewers are more likely to recommend acceptance (though those recommendations don’t affect editorial decision making). I can believe that last conclusion. When I suggest reviewers, I don’t recommend them based on whether I think they’ll recommend acceptance of my ms. But I do suggest people whom I’m confident will “get” my ms, which I’m sure is correlated with their likelihood of recommending acceptance. Note that the study focuses on review quality and doesn’t address other issues, such as that many scientists won’t do open review.
Shane Hanlon on why he stopped seeking a tenure track job in ecology, even though he was getting interviews.
Yet another person who thinks that the primary obstacles to post-publication review (or to online “peer feedback” more broadly) are to do with the technical design of commenting and reviewing systems. Don’t misunderstand, I think it’s great that people are trying out new ways of communicating, and I’m sure this one will hit the spot for some people. But I doubt it’ll ever take off in a big way. Semi-related recent post here. (ht Retraction Watch)
Ok, this is just a silly, trivial political gaffe, and linking to it probably slightly contributes to the decline of our political discourse. But I’m linking to it anyway because I can’t wait to vote against the current Canadian government. The government that promoted its salmon-protecting credentials in British Columbia with a picture of an Atlantic salmon. From the UK. With this government, we’re lucky it wasn’t a picture of a rainbow trout or a shark or something.
Entrants in the American Society of Microbiologists’ petri dish art contest.
What “probability” means in different professions. Professions covered include “weather forecaster”, “political journalist” and “Mission: Impossible agent”. Funny and true. :-)
Sticking with Math with Bad Drawings: a (somewhat strained) positive spin on the dumbest mathematical mistake you’ll ever see on an official sign. Actually, it’s possible the mistake is an intentional joke. I sure hope it is, because as a commenter over there points out, there are other examples! :-)