Also this week: Xtranormal vs. G. E. Hutchinson, Plos’ surprising financials, the human side of the replication crisis, bad talk bingo, how to pronounce “niche”, and more. Lots of good stuff this week! Also, your chance to pay Jeremy back for all those free blog posts he’s been writing for you!
I continue to follow the replication crisis in psychology with interest. Fascinating to see an entire scientific field wondering if might have gone seriously off the rails. This week, the human side of the replication crisis: social psychologist Michael Inzlicht, who works on stereotype threat among other topics, with an emotional post worrying that he’s spent his entire career chasing “smoke puffs”.
Geneticist Andrew Kern read Plos’ financials, and was surprised and unhappy with what he found. Michael Eisen’s response is here. It’s not a point by point response, and I don’t quite see the relevance of some of it. But the gist is that, in Eisen’s view, Plos has to do what it’s doing or it wouldn’t be sustainable. See Kern’s twitter feed for his further thoughts, concerning what you get for your publishing fee at different outlets. I’m no expert here; perhaps Brian can comment. He has many years experience in the business world, and he’s done a lot of research on which journals provide value for money to the scientific community. Speaking purely personally: I’ve published in Plos One, and published an invited piece in Plos Biology. I have no problem with anyone who chooses to publish with Plos. But in future I’ll probably lean towards Ecosphere rather than Plos One next time I have a paper I just want to get out there. Ecosphere is open access just like Plos One, the fee is cheaper than Plos One’s for ESA members, ecologists are probably more likely to notice a paper there than a paper in Plos One, and I like that the money goes to a scientific society. Everyone knows exactly what the ESA does with its money and how it benefits ecology as a whole. I respectfully disagree with those who argue that the world would be better off if scientific societies radically cut back on their non-publishing activities and/or radically increased membership and publication fees in order to make all their journals open access. Just noting that respectful disagreement for the record; I doubt there’s much point in debating that disagreement because it’s just going to come down to gut feelings.
Stephen Heard lists the pros and cons of giving a poster vs. a talk at a scientific conference. I agree with most but not all of what he has to say. His #2, 4, 6, 11, and 13 are the most important considerations for me and my students, but obviously your mileage may vary.
Via a commenter on Stephen’s post: bad talk bingo and bad poster bingo. The bad poster bingo card is missing an entry: “way too much text, just like every other poster”. A rant on this is in the queue for next week.
My philosophical colleague Adrian Currie with an accessible short post on how science progresses. Traditionally, philosophers (and many scientists) have argued that it progresses by either “going small” (i.e. producing reductionist, mechanistic explanations) or “getting together” (i.e. unifying many different phenomena under the umbrella of a general theory). Adrian argues that there’s a third route to progress, exemplified by paleontology: “going complex”. I presume Brian would agree. Anyway, go read, and think about the implications for ecology. Here are related posts from me on the many roads to “generality” in ecology and some Origin of Species-related musings on unification.
Tim will answer readers’ questions about the ins and outs of writing and submitting a paper for review, interpreting editors’ decision letters, responding to reviewers’ comments, and revising for a successful publication.
Good advice on how to give a job talk at a small liberal arts college. (ht Small Pond Science)
Kieran Healy makes a good point in response to those who want to End All Journals (or All Selective Journals, or just Science/Nature/PNAS):
Ex-Dynamic Ecologist Chris Klausmeier with an, um, creative bid to make Meg’s list of videos for teaching ecology: he gave a debate between G. E. Hutchinson and Gordon Riley on neutral coexistence the Xtranormal treatment. With sound effects. Which raises the following question:
Amazingly, Chris’ is only the second most creative academic video I saw this week. Via Marginal Revolution, I bring you the movie trailer for a forthcoming economics paper.
Sigh. If I were still in London, I could easily go to the opening night of this new play about George Price. But since I live in Calgary now, it’ll be harder. Which is where you come in! You know all those free blog posts I’ve been writing for you for years? It’s payback time. Complete the poll below to tell me how you can pitch in to help me take the only chance I’ll ever have to see a play about one of my intellectual heroes.
And finally: are you sure you know how to pronounce “niche”? 🙂
I propose a compromise: let’s average the poll results and pronounce it “neetch”. 🙂