Pleuni Pennings has a post of things you should look for in a postdoc position. And, in the comments, she links to another post that is entitled “Should you do another postdoc?” I found that one interesting, too, as it lists just two reasons why one should remain a postdoc, and a whole bunch of reasons why one should not. One of the reasons given for why you should not continue to postdoc is “You love your topic of research or research itself.” I’m not entirely sure I agree with everything, but it’s definitely good food for thought (though obviously I’m in a position now where this is not a decision I need to make for myself).
The five things Hope Jahren says to career women who say they might want to have a baby. As I’ve come to expect from her, it’s great. The bit about posting everything to Facebook may resemble me more than I care to admit. 🙂 And, on a related note, a post from Tenure, She Wrote on being a mom in science, and the importance of being able to talk about the difficulties of being a working mom.
If you’ve ever wondered exactly what happens when you submit a ms to a journal–what all the steps in the review process are and roughly how long they take–American Naturalist Managing Editor Trish Morse walks you through it.
The scientific intertubes have been buzzing this week about Nobel laureate Randy Schekman’s editorial urging scientists to stop submitting to Nature, Science, and Cell (and, er, presumably submit to his own highly-selective journal instead…). I was toying with responding. But Rich Lenski said it better than I could.
And frankly, the online conversation about about where and how to publish is sufficiently dominated by zealots and revolutionaries of various stripes that I can’t really be bothered to wade in any further than I have. You say you want a revolution... EDIT: I wrote that in a bad mood, but that’s an explanation, not an excuse. I shouldn’t have used “zealots” to refer to people whose goals and strong opinions I don’t share, since after all I certainly have strong opinions that others don’t share. That’s my bad, my apologies.
Philosopher Greg Gandenberger has a nice autobiographical post on how to write an unpublishable paper. Basically, he started out intending to address a big, interesting, important question. But in the course of narrowing it down into a concrete, tractable question he lost everything that made the original big question interesting and important. This happens a lot in ecology, too, I think. Often a lot gets “lost in translation” when researchers go from the big, interesting general question that’s supposed to motivate their work to the narrower specific questions that they’re actually addressing. Learning how to ask small, tractable questions that retain interest and importance because of their links to some bigger, broader question is an important skill for any researcher. And read the comments too, where it’s suggested to Greg that maybe his paper isn’t uninteresting and unpublishable after all! It’s good to be your own toughest critic–but there’s such a thing as being too hard on yourself.
Just because you’re not fast at math doesn’t mean you’re bad at math. Plenty of mathematicians are really slow at math and struggle to understand it–because they take the time to think it through. Relevant to discussions we’ve had in the past.
And finally, here’s a handy (horrible pun intended) visual dictionary of hand gestures used by participants in academic discussions. 🙂 (ht counterparties.com)