Anne Jefferson recently retweeted an old post of hers at Highly Allochthonous, in which she urges grad students to show their data to their advisor early and often. Good advice!
Joan Strassmann has a post on how to set up your Google Scholar profile. I definitely agree that doing so is a good idea. I put the link to my Google Scholar profile on my CV to try to make it easier on, oh, say potential tenure letter writers.
And, to go with one from our own archives, in talking with new grad students recently, I’ve suggested that you could do worse than to use Jeremy’s post on the most cited papers from the 70s, 80s, and 90s as a list of papers to read as a new grad student.
Can’t believe I wasn’t aware of this, but back in June The Silwood Circle was published. The book traces the history of Silwood Park, the branch campus of Imperial College London that starting in the late 1960’s became home to one of the greatest and most influential groups of ecologists in the world. The key people all shared a particular approach to science, and they succeeded in making that approach hugely influential in Britain and elsewhere. I’m proud to have done my postdoc there and so made my own small contribution to the history of Silwood Park. I’ve asked for a copy of the book for my birthday and I promise I’ll review it as soon as I get the chance. In the meantime, Andrew Read has a review at his lab group’s blog.
A while back, Andrew Hendry did a post criticizing the use of parsimony (“Occam’s razor”), and null models in evolution (I’ve said much the same in an ecological context). Andrew’s post was prompted by some exchanges he had with a graduate student, Njal Rollinson, while serving as an external examiner for Njal’s defense. Pretty vigorous exchanges, from the sound of it. And now Njal, to his credit, has done a post laying out his point of view. It’s very thoughtful and I can appreciate where he’s coming from. Njal’s post also starts with some very forthright comments on the nature of grad student-faculty conversations and debates. Kudos to Njal and Andrew for sharing a fine example of a vigorous professional debate (no less fine for being vigorous, or for not leading to agreement).
Jeremy Yoder links to a video clip of an interview with the late, great John Maynard Smith, relating a very funny anecdote. It involves JBS Haldane and a car on fire…What, are you still here? Haven’t you clicked through yet? 🙂 And here’s Haldane’s own comment on the tale, via a tweet from beyond the grave. 🙂
BioDiverse Perspectives interviewed Bob Paine. He talks a lot about his time as a grad student, offers some opinions on current topics (he thinks NEON is “a waste of money”). And he shares a good anecdote about the demand for reprints of his keystone species paper.
From a new preprint (not yet peer-reviewed) from Barraquard et al.: Survey data indicate that young ecologists want more quantitative training–probably more than many ecology programs offer. One caveat: it was an online survey and one wonders if that introduces a sampling bias towards ecologists who want more math, although the authors did make efforts to disseminate the survey widely. For what it’s worth, it reinforces the more anecdotal responses of my own ecology undergraduates when I asked them to reflect on their mathematical training. (HT Theoretical Ecology)
Should paper titles in ecology be more specific? Are authors using over-general titles in an attempt to signal the generality of their papers?
And finally, when a student asks for an extension on the grounds that a grandparent just passed away, do you believe them? If not, maybe you should: Frances Woolley crunches the numbers and finds that, if you teach a large class, the odds are that somebody’s grandmother is going to pass away during the term. Of course, as the saying goes, “trust everyone, but cut the cards”: Frances still expects students to provide a copy of the obituary or death certificate before the end of the term.
Hoisted from the comments: