Friday links: female ESA award winners, #overlyhonestcitations, academic karma, and more (UPDATED)

Also this week: George Scialabba vs. depression, Andrew Gelman’s thoughts are worth the wait, baseball player vs. evolution, and more…

From Meg:

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment had a piece by Chris Beck et al. on women and underrepresented minorities in the Ecological Society of America. Having posted about a lack of women award winners before, I found WebTable 2.0 particularly interesting:


The Eminent Ecologist, MacArthur, and Mercer awards have skewed male, while the Buell, Braun, and Distinguished Service awards have skewed female in recent years. Their analysis doesn’t look at the newer ESA Fellows, but last year only one of the 12 fellows was a woman. I’ve been working with others (including Gina Baucom and Pleuni Pennings) to make sure that more women and underrepresented minorities are nominated for awards this year. (ht: Cat Searle)

I enjoyed Terry McGlynn’s response to the shirt worn by the scientific head of operations for the European Space Agency (the other ESA!)’s Rosetta Project. I also thought this tweet was worth thinking about more:


Like him, I would like to think I’d have said something. But it’s a good reminder that we need to speak up in these situations, even if it might make us uncomfortable. (UPDATE: Jeremy Yoder passes on the news that the guy in question, Matt Taylor, has issued a heartfelt apology.)

From Jeremy:

Essayist George Scialabba tells the story of his four-plus decade battle with depression through the notes of his doctors and psychiatrists. A sobering read for someone like me, who’s been fortunate not to have had to deal with depression. Crooked Timber comments on the piece.

A few years ago Owen Petchey and I suggested that authors should have to “pay” for reviews of their papers by performing reviews themselves, using a notional “currency” called PubCreds. Subsequently, others have hit on the same basic idea and are starting to turn it into a reality. I just stumbled across another such effort: Academic Karma. From a glance, it looks to be more or less exactly like PubCreds, except that any authors, reviewers, and editors who want to participate do so voluntarily. Very early days, but worth watching. Relatedly: here’s some data on whether ecologists currently review in appropriate proportion to how much they submit.

The research productivity of newly-minted economics PhDs is highly skewed, with a small fraction of people producing a large fraction of the high-profile papers. This seems like one more bit of evidence for William Shockley’s “hurdle model” of scientific productivity. (ht Economist’s View).

Andrew Gelman’s belated comments on that experiment manipulating the emotional content of people’s Facebook feeds are better than any comments I saw at the time.

#overlyhonestcitations: Ethology just published a paper containing the following phrase where a citation should have been:

should we cite that crappy Gabor paper here?

Well, this is awkward. Especially since Caitlin Gabor knows and has published with some of the authors. And in a sign of the times, this story has now gone viral and has been splashed on popular general news sites like Vox. Which seems like kind of a big penalty for an embarrassing but minor mistake. Because let’s be honest–everyone has negative opinions about some papers, and that’s perfectly fine (indeed, it’d be very worrisome if it were otherwise). So there’s a part of me that’s happy to have a chuckle by linking to this–and a part of me that’s a little scared because “there but for the grace of God go I.” (ht Jeff Ollerton)

I’m only linking to this for the benefit of longtime reader and commenter Jim Bouldin: Curt Schilling vs. evolution. On Twitter. Apparently, you don’t need to click through because it was exactly like what you’d imagine.

@ResearchMark (as in Mark Wahlberg) is only one joke. And more or less the same joke as the now-defunct biostatistics pickup lines Tumblr. But it’s still funny. In a similar vein: @AcademicBatgirl. 🙂 (ht Simply Statistics)

10 thoughts on “Friday links: female ESA award winners, #overlyhonestcitations, academic karma, and more (UPDATED)

  1. I am VERY disappointed that the biostatistics pick up linea link does not lead me to biostatistics pick up lines! Just information on how to find scrap cars?

  2. Hey Jeremy, thanks for the mention. Yes, Academic Karma is basically an implementation of PubCreds. I didn’t find out about PubCreds until after we started to build Academic Karma, but I would like to (and should) acknowledge PubCreds as the first suggestion of a reviewing currency on our webpage though – perhaps a link to the pubcreds paper on our About page – would you be fine with that? The idea certainly resonates with a lot of people. The difficulty is – of course – getting it adopted. Our strategy to get it adopted is to provide a platform for people to review for any journal and to encourage reviewers to migrate their reviewing to our platform. As you say, its early days, we have only been live in beta since August, and have only recently come out of beta. During beta we facilitated around 28 reviews, and learnt a lot in the process about what works and what doesn’t work (e.g. its very important to allow customisation of the review webform to each journal, which sounds rather obvious in retrospect!). Would love to hear your thoughts, Lachlan.

    • Hi Lachlan,

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope I didn’t come off as suggesting that Academic Karma or anyone else was copying PubCreds–I didn’t mean that at all! Indeed, I’m not at all sure that Owen and I were the first to come up with a PubCreds-type idea. I know of several folks who’ve hit on similar ideas independently, which to me suggests that the basic idea must have something going for it. Certainly, the idea of having authors pay real money for reviews (which they would then make back by doing reviews themselves) is one many people have had, before and after PubCreds. Indeed, that’s how Owen and I eventually hit on the PubCreds idea–initially, we were trying to figure out how a real money-based system could work, and eventually we realized that you didn’t need to use real money. So if you wanted to link to the PubCreds paper, go ahead, but only if you want to. If it helps you make the case for Academic Karma, by all means.

      You’re absolutely right that getting it adopted is the big hurdle. That’s something Owen and I struggled with, and we never came up with any great ideas on that front. I think the Academic Karma idea will resonate with Owen in particular, he’s responsible for the suggestion in our paper that people just keeping track of and publishing their own PubCreds balances might have some positive effects. Which is similar in spirit to Academic Karma, though obviously different in many ways. The only other way in which I’ve seen PubCred-type systems adopted is as part of a larger package of publishing reforms, like on PeerJ or Peerage of Science. I wish you luck with Academic Karma, I have a soft spot for narrowly-targeted reforms–evolution not revolution. 🙂

      Yes, I can imagine that customization of the review form to the journal would be necessary. I suspect that’s part of why Rubriq never took off (as far as I know, maybe it took off in other fields but not in ecology and evolution). They were pushing a very simple, universal “scorecard” review form as a feature of the service, but I think to many people (including me) that looks like a bug rather than a feature.

      • Hi Jeremy,
        I didn’t think you implied that, and in fact I wish I had read your paper on Pubcreds early, you clearly thought it through quite thoroughly and anticipated many of the issues we have faced. Thanks for the words of encouragement.

      • Hmm, that petition’s old. Plus, the petition site we chose seems to be defunct or close to it (e.g., at some point they just randomly deleted the blog they were hosting that was once associated with the petition). The email addresses of the folks who signed might not even be accessible anymore. And the folks who signed it didn’t sign in the expectation that they’d be receiving future correspondence. Owen and I haven’t corresponded with them further, as far as I can recall. I’ll talk it over with Owen, but no promises.

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