Friday links: surviving science, the ultimate citation, why everything is broken, and more

Also this week: depressing news on gender balance in major scientific awards, when trainees go bad, the history of the passive voice, and more. Oh, and identify any insect with this one handy picture. πŸ™‚

From Meg:

While I was glad to read that funding to support the Keeling curve measurements for three more years has been secured, I was a surprised to read that it was in question in the first place.

12 (really 13) Guidelines for Surviving Science. These are great! #5 reminds me of a conversation I had with someone about choosing mentors and collaborators: Imagine a 2 x 2 grid where you have nice/not nice on one side and smart/not smart on the other. Aim for nice & smart. Avoid the quadrant of doom.

After learning that there were no women finalists for the second year in a row, two scientists resigned from the selection committee for the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame. A lack of women recipients of a prominent award is something I’ve written about before. And, just yesterday, NSF announced its newest Waterman Award winner. The streak is now at 12 consecutive male winners.

I enjoyed this post on steps towards cleaner, better-organized code. (ht: Nina Wale) Related to this, a suggestion a colleague recently gave me is to aim to go one step more elegant/refined than what you would have done on your own. That is, don’t have amazingly elegant code as your goal. But if, each time, you aim to go one step beyond where you can easily get, you’ll learn a lot and, over time, become pretty good at programming. I like that idea.

From Jeremy:

Emilio Bruna, EiC at Biotropica, seconds Brian’s view that honest mistakes happen in science, and that the important thing is to fix them rather than stigmatize anyone:

So please, if you find a mistake in one of your papers let us know. It’s ok, we can fix it.

Arjun Raj explains why everything–peer review, academia, software design, you name it–is “broken”.

Arthropod ecologist Chris Buddle is cited in the latest xkcd “What If”! There are even two jokes about him! Must…control…jealousy… πŸ™‚ (In seriousness: congratulations Chris!)

Stephen Heard with the story behind his paper on whimsy, jokes, and beauty in scientific writing. Includes an interesting discussion of how the taboo on humor and beauty in scientific writing is maintained even though lots of people–maybe even most people!–disagree with the taboo. Oh, and see the comments, where Stephen answers the question, when did scientists stop writing in the first person (active voice) in favor of the third person (passive voice), and why?

Tenure, She Wrote on every PI’s nightmare (or one of them): when trainees go bad.

Simply Statistics agrees with my hypothesis on why your university has so many administrators and so much red tape: because you asked for it.

Journalist’s guide to insect identification. That’s pretty much how I do it. Definitely close enough for government work. In fact, I bet this is how entomologists do it too, because it’s not as if anyone’s ever going to look close enough to check them. πŸ™‚ (ht Not Exactly Rocket Science)

Aww, penguins are so cute! Here, penguin, pengu–AAAAAHHHHH!!!11!1 πŸ™‚ (ht Not Exactly Rocket Science)

10 thoughts on “Friday links: surviving science, the ultimate citation, why everything is broken, and more

      • So which is cooler: getting to meet President Obama, or getting jokes made about you in an xkcd What If? I guess we’ll never know until one person accomplishes both those things, enabling a direct comparison. So now it’s a race between you (trying to get mentioned in an xkcd What If) and Chris (trying to meet Obama). πŸ™‚

      • Meanwhile, Chris is presumably bombarding President Obama with messages about insects. πŸ™‚

        I give you the early lead in the race, on the theory that Chris’ messages will probably get him branded a security risk, which would eliminate any chance he has of meeting Obama. πŸ™‚

  1. “12 (really 13) Guidelines for Surviving Science. These are great! #5 reminds me of a conversation I had with someone about choosing mentors and collaborators: Imagine a 2 x 2 grid where you have nice/not nice on one side and smart/not smart on the other. Aim for nice & smart. Avoid the quadrant of doom.”

    I think you should expand the quadrant system to pentagon (5 corners of fate LOL). In addition to the four types mentioned, there should also be nice/ smart/ passive-aggressive. That is far worse than any of the “not-nice” options, because at least then you know what’s coming at you…

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