Friday links: #0papers, and more

Also this week: Markus Eichhorn vs. the file drawer problem, the last 50 years of ecology in 1 minute and 32 seconds, and more.

From Jeremy:

Hoisted from the comments: ecologist Markus Eichhorn on why he doesn’t read the literature any more. Also, he’s no fan of…

the latest hashtag tyranny of #365papers, where fellow academics post how many papers they’ve read either to impress others or make them feel guilty.

Of course, that’s not the intent of #365papers. As I understand it (not being a Twitter user myself), it’s intended as a way for people who want to read more to encourage/guilt themselves into reading more. Also a way to get their friends and others taking the #365papers challenge to encourage them. But of course, tweets are public and can come across to others in unintended ways. More broadly, the issue (if indeed it is an issue) isn’t limited to tweets, though I think it’s a bigger issue with tweets because tweets are short and so easily misinterpreted. For instance, anyone can read our posts, which sometimes come off in unintended ways to readers who aren’t part of the intended audience. Honest question to anyone who uses Twitter or blogs: do you worry about how your tweets or posts might come off to people who aren’t part of the intended audience? And if so, what if anything do you do about it?

Sticking with Markus Eichhorn: why it is actually a good thing that lots of research studies go unpublished. Basically, because the opportunity cost of going to the trouble of publishing them isn’t worth it. I mostly agree, while remaining troubled by the resulting file drawer problem which may seriously bias the results of meta-analyses in some cases. Here’s Meg on the same topic.

An animated wordle of Ecology abstracts from the 1960s to today. By Ray Dybzynski and Gord McNickle, who clearly have way too much time on their hands. πŸ™‚ Those of you who think ecologists should focus on “traits” instead of “species” will have to watch it through your fingers. πŸ™‚ Meg, does this count as a “video for teaching ecology“? πŸ™‚ (ht @Michael_Foisy)

And finally, the secchi disk frisbees that Meg was selling at ESA 2015 made the front page of the ESA’s 2015 Annual Report! And check out the caption:


Meg and I both love that the ESA used “SCIENCE” to caption a picture of a frisbee. πŸ™‚ Next year I’m going to sell these baseballs at the ESA and see if I can get them captioned “SCIENCE” too. πŸ™‚

5 thoughts on “Friday links: #0papers, and more

  1. Eichhorn really has gotten the wrong end of the stick over #365papers. Putting his hyperbole aside for a moment, my motivation for participating is partly along the lines you describe, Jeremy – motivation to read more mainly – I’m not personally doing this to find internet buddies, and I’m not trying to guilt myself into anything[*]. What is most apparent to me is that by participating in this venture I am benefiting from the wisdom of the ecological crowd – I’m getting pointers to literature that I might not come across easily given the torrent of new works that we battle against or let was over us. At the very least one other person was motivated to read the paper they tweeted. And I can repay that service by tweeting papers that most piqued my interest.

    I’m struggling to see a downside here, especially given the ease with which you can filter tweets from your timeline.

    [*] noticing the day number compared to my papers-read count only highlights to me that I should set aside some quiet time to read, and that’s after I decided 365 papers in a year was a pointless goal and I;d be happy to set my goal at around the 100 mark.

    • Fair enough.

      There are other contexts in which I wonder about this. Remember when #overlyhonestmethods was a thing? And how *lots* of people, including lots of non-scientists, took it seriously? More seriously than most people tweeting that hashtag meant it, anyway?

      I’m also thinking of how folks like Terry McGlynn have expressed distress at academics and other teachers tweeting their frustration or amusement about their students’ final exams and term papers. The people tweeting that stuff mostly intend to just vent momentary frustration or stress to their online friends. But to lots of others it looks very much like they hate their students.

      Of course, you can go too far with this line of thought. I think it’s ridiculous that some people and organizations want satire like The Onion prominently labeled as such, so that nobody ever embarrasses themselves by thinking it’s real. More broadly, I don’t think every public utterance should come with some sort of lengthy disclaimer about the author’s intent and the intended audience. Sometimes people are going to misunderstand things, sometimes because they weren’t part of the intended audience. That’s just life.

      Not sure what to make of all these examples. I’m struggling to come up with any general guiding principle as to when one should worry about how one’s online utterances might come off to people outside the intended audience.

      • Thanks for the double link! It’s a privilege to be mis-spelt on Dynamic Ecology twice in one week πŸ˜‰ (Seriously, I’m not bothered. Many of my closest friends can’t spell my name either.)

        As for my ‘hyperbole’ over #365papers, that was quite deliberate to make a rhetorical point. It doesn’t offend me in the slightest. Perhaps we’re all holding the wrong ends of each others’ sticks. Or something. I’d hate to be misinterpreted.

      • Typos fixed, sorry.

        It’s ironic–or maybe just very meta–that my worries about people misunderstanding tweets and blog posts were prompted by misunderstanding a blog post that pretended to misunderstand some tweets. πŸ™‚

    • My take is similar to Gavin’s. I use the hashtag/goal mainly as a way to try to motivate myself to read more. I also like that I find new papers to read via #365papers; for example, yesterday I emailed myself a paper Megan RΓΊa tweeted about that I hadn’t seen yet but that looked interesting.

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