The CEO of Sears (a major US retailer) is wrecking the company by dividing it into a bunch of autonomous units that compete with one another for budgets and other assets. I found this interesting because the situation seems quite analogous to multi-level selection. The CEO is imposing within-group selection for “selfish” behavior, and finding that that undermines the “fitness” of the group as a whole in competition with other groups. (HT Paul Krugman)
How is a noninformative prior like a perpetual motion machine? It would be nice if it existed, but it doesn’t.
Several publishers, including some of the leading publishers of open access journals–Plos, BMC, eLife, and EMBO–are forming a peer review cascade. If your paper is rejected by any journal in the consortium, you have the option to have the paper and all of the reviews immediately forwarded to any other journal in the consortium. The new handling editor then decides whether to make use of the reviews. It saves time for authors, and reduces the burden on peer reviewers. Numerous scientific societies and individual publishers already operate these sorts of review cascades, including the Ecological Society of America. The novelty here is that it’s a cross-publisher cascade, which is interesting (although an early peer review cascade, in neuroscience, also was cross-publisher). I assume the calculation is that participating in the consortium will allow each publisher to attract many more mss than it would have otherwise, thereby more than making up for “losing” some rejected mss to the author-pays open access journals of other publishers. Another interesting wrinkle is that there’s not a clear hierarchy among all the journals involved, as is the case with most existing review cascades. Not sure how that will affect author participation in the system. Two other interesting wrinkles: referees can opt out of having their reviews forwarded. They’ll also have the option to remain anonymous to the editor of any journal to which their reviews are forwarded. The linked piece notes that editors may not find anonymous (to them) forwarded reviews very useful. As an editor you often choose referees for their specific expertise. If you don’t know who the referee is, you don’t know what their expertise is and so have less ability to interpret their review.
Do you have a scientific will? The Lab and Field discusses advance contingency planning for your scientific “assets” in the event you die or become seriously ill.
Joan Strassmann with a nice post on keeping up with the literature. Specifically, how it’s pretty much impossible, at least in the sense that she (and I) “grew up with” during our training. I like her suggestion to focus your general reading on reading broadly outside your own narrow area of expertise, in order to expose yourself to new, possibly career-changing ideas. You can easily catch up with the literature in your own area when it comes time to write a grant or a paper by using search engines.
Andrew Gelman on the difference between forward and reverse causal inference.
A 1984 scientific paper took the form of a poem. Well, a poem plus some figures. (HT Jacquelyn Gill, via Twitter)
Just a few links from me this week:
I enjoyed this post from Dr. Isis on why women should ‘lean on’ (each other), rather than ‘lean in’. It reminded me of this post by Renata Migliati, where she mentions a woman who teamed up with other women from her department to stay productive while she had young children. I definitely agree that a big benefit of having close collaborators is being able to keep research moving along during periods where the work-life ‘balance’ is off towards ‘life’ – though, I would add, there’s no need for those collaborators to be women (and men will inevitably have life events pop up, too!)
And, just for fun (and at the risk of ruining some of your Friday productivity), check out this live webcam of bears at a salmon run in Alaska. It’s pretty cool. And here’s a video taken with that webcam showing that you should never mess with a mama bear!