Also this week: new videos for teaching ecology, social media as professional development, the pluses and minuses of minority-focused conferences, the best ecology blog you’ve (well, I’d) never heard of, and more.
I added two fun, deep sea-related new videos to my collection of videos for teaching ecology: 1) a massive deep sea mussel bed; in the video, they have the robotic arm play with the solid methane hydrate that has formed near the mussels (ht: Deep Sea News), and 2) a video of a whale fall community, complete with footage of a shark tearing into the whale (ht: Joshua Drew). Fun! And, while we’re talking about whale falls, this is a neat article about them; among other things, it talks about snotworms (yes, there really are things called “snotworms”).
Conservation Biology is the latest journal to go to double blind peer review. I love the opening line of this announcement: “To have biases is human, to fight them, while not divine, is at least worth attempting.” (ht: David Shiffman)
SciWo had a Tenure, She Wrote post on social media as professional development. I really enjoyed it. As she summarizes near the end
Being on-line does take some time, but so does everything worth doing in life. I’ve never seen any convincing data to show that strategic use of social media is any worse investment of my time and energy than any other thing I could do with those random moments of brain weariness or distraction when I find myself refreshing my Twitter feed or reading a blog post. Instead, the benefits I’ve listed above seem to make a compelling case for engaging with your academic peers on-line – just as you would outline benefits if you encourage networking at in-person at conferences.
Here’s a petition I can get behind! Tell NSERC to dump the Canadian Common CV. For you non-Canadians: last year NSERC and other Canadian funding agencies started requiring researchers applying for grants to provide their CV’s using a ridiculous online form. The petition is not exaggerating–it literally is two weeks of work to enter all the information (I know because I just did it for my grant renewal application). Which the software then prints in a horrendously organized and butt-ugly format that makes it very difficult for the people who are evaluating your application to find the information they want. But hey, at least we get…um, actually there’s no upside. Unfortunately, researchers have already been protesting the CCV since it was introduced, and all we’ve gotten in response is minor software updates, so I doubt this petition will go anywhere. The next time an institution admits a mistake and drops enterprise software it had previously adopted will be the first time.
Caroline Tucker asks a good question: What would you do with a billion dollar grant? The inspiration is a billion dollar EU-funded project to recreate the human brain with supercomputers. As that example and others illustrate, the way to attract a big slug of money to a field these days often is with some very ambitious project. Click through for Caroline’s nice discussion of what a billion dollar ecology project might look like (a more expensive version of NEON isn’t the only possibility). Semi-related discussions of the trade-offs between centrally-coordinated science and individual investigator science, and between expensive science and cheap science, here, here, and here, and see here for a relevant historical discussion of the IBP.
Ray Hilborn on “faith-based fisheries“. An entertaining and provocative polemic from 2006. I’m not qualified to evaluate it, but thought it worth passing on. (ht a correspondent, via email)
Un-reclaiming the name “zoologist”. Just one of many interesting posts from the EcoEvo group blog from the ecology & evolution students (and faculty?) at Trinity College Dublin. It is long-running but I just stumbled across last week. Apparently I should’ve noticed them much earlier, as they’ve just been named “Best Science and Technology Blog in Ireland“. I added them to our blogroll.
For instance, here’s Natalie Cooper from EcoEvo on her experience of having to work very hard to organize a gender-balanced plenary session for a specialized conference. Includes lots of practical suggestions for overcoming the usual excuses for lack of gender balance (which as she notes aren’t merely excuses–they’re often real problems). Kudos to her for putting in all that effort and I’m glad it was rewarded in the end. Though had it not been rewarded, I hope she wouldn’t have beaten herself up. See this old post of Meg’s for related discussion.
Last year the NSF DEB and IOS surveyed the community about their views of the new preproposal system. The results are in. The headline result is that people like the preproposal system but don’t like being able to apply only once/year. Note that fears that the new system would disproportionately affect certain groups have not been borne out. Group representation among awardees is the same under the new system as under the old system. (ht Sociobiology)
Terry McGlynn is torn over whether it’s useful for minority students to attend a minority-focused conference if that conference doesn’t include many people working in their field. Somewhat related to my old post arguing that students mostly shouldn’t bother attending student-focused conferences.
Zen Faulkes wonders whatever happened to the annual Open Lab anthology of the best online science writing, and what its apparent demise says about the changing face of online science writing.
Amy Parachnowitsch on the many benefits of writing a review paper (or three at once, in her case!)
The Chronicle has picked up ecologist Stephen Heard’s piece (noted in a previous linkfest) on the value of humor in scientific writing.
In 2006 Germany started following the lead of many other countries and began charging tuition at its public universities. They’ve now reversed that decision.
And finally: Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! 🙂