I like this post on dealing with rejection (which is an essential skill in academia, since we all get rejections often). I agree with all four points. I certainly find that I need to take some time away from the reviews before I can really read and process them. And I agree that complaining about reviewers on twitter is not a good idea (especially from a named account). As the post says, it doesn’t make you look good, and the person who wrote the review may very well see it. h/t: @highlyanne
On a related note, DrugMonkey has a post on the rarity of positive feedback in academia. I do try to make sure to give positive feedback when I think it’s warranted, but it would be interesting to know what my lab folks think.
And, finally, Rich Lenski has started blogging and tweeting! I think this is fantastic, and look forward to following both his blog and his tweets. (Jeremy adds: here are the slides from the talk on social media for scientists that convinced Rich to start blogging and tweeting)
In the wake of the recent ESA and INTECOL meetings, I thought this was timely and thought provoking: Political science blog The Monkey Cage points us to Mark Rom, who argues that big academic conferences are “lumbering dinosaurs”. The article begins by rehashing some familiar complaints about big conferences–multiple talks you want to see all being scheduled at once, talk quality varying widely, speakers getting little feedback, etc. And then suggests a radical solution: the “customized conference”:
- Conferences should consist of two kinds of talks: “teaching” and “learning”.
- Teaching talks are for polished presentations on finished work. They should teach the audience something. These would be more or less like traditional conference talks.
- Learning talks are for describing work in progress, or even ideas for new work. The presenter wants feedback–wants to learn something from the audience. These talks would be more like posters in some ways.
- Here’s perhaps the most radical bit: “customization”. The teaching talks would be chosen via an online vote. Only those who get sufficient votes get to give a teaching talk. This is intended to ensure that the teaching talks are high quality, and are the ones attendees want to see.
There are lots of immediately-obvious objections one could raise to this system, such as that it more or less guarantees that only people who are famous (often for stuff they did years ago) will get to give teaching talks. The linked article tries to address many of those objections. I mostly disagree (I love the ESA meeting and don’t think it would be improved by this proposal). But I could see incorporating elements of this proposal into the ESA meeting (e.g., a few “learning talks” sessions would be an interesting experiment).
Evolutionary pharmacologist Ethan Perlstein has “gone rogue”: he’s set up his own independent lab, supported by crowdfunding. And rather than publish in traditional journals, he puts all his results on his website in real time. Read his story here.
Hoisted from the comments: conservation biologists are working too hard. Data on the time of day to which manuscripts and reviews are submitted to Biological Conservation reveal that weekend submission rates are increasing 5-6%/year. Approximately 27% of submissions are now made on weekends or outside of regular working hours. Which recalls the following cheesy-but-famous verse:
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends–
It gives a lovely light!
Here are two nice recent posts from Andrew Hendry at Eco-Evo Evo-Eco. One is on how evolutionary responses to medical treatment are likely to differ between infectious diseases and cancer because only the former are transmissible. Another argues that “parsimony”, aka “Occam’s razor”, doesn’t really have a place in the evaluation of scientific hypotheses. I agree. (And by the way, that old post of mine has a short but excellent comment thread, well worth your time if you’re interested in the post topic).
And finally, don’t you wish this was how hybrid speciation worked? Thanks to the wonders of Photoshop, now you can have your very own gerbilion! Or a frogopotamus, or a mushtopus. And then there’s the shark-bear, the sharknoceros, the hammerhead shark-gull…Sadly, the smallest one is the bee-lion, so Meg will have to create her own shark-Daphnia and I’ll have to create my own sharkmecium. #hopefulmonsters #hilariousmonsters #griffensareforamateurs (HT Photoshop Disasters)