Friday links: the fourth reviewer, abstracts as movie trailers, and more

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!

From Jeremy:

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 Vines of Axios Review has a new advice column, The Fourth Reviewer:

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):

Related old posts here and here.

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”.🙂

24 thoughts on “Friday links: the fourth reviewer, abstracts as movie trailers, and more

  1. I think that your begging poll lacks imagination: I’ll invite you to come and give a seminar in my department and get them to pay your rail fare to and from London (Northampton’s about an hour away from Euston), give you a bed for as many nights as you need, come to the play with you, buy you an ice cream in the interval, and lie to your wife.

  2. “I like that the money goes to a scientific society”
    FWIW, ESA just contracted with Wiley to do publication of its journals, so I’m betting pretty much all your publishing fees are now going to a for-profit company when you decide to publish in Ecosphere.

    • My understanding is that ESA switched to contracting with Wiley because it was a *better* financial deal for the society. Quoting from the ESA’s 2015 annual report (David Inouye’s letter):

      “The Governing Board realized that it had to change the model of self-publishing that worked for us for many decades, but was no longer viable. We hired a consulting group to advise us, interviewed several of the major scientific publishers as potential partners last spring, and this large effort will culminate with our journals being published as of 2016 with John Wiley & Sons. It’s sad to have to close the Ithaca-based publications office whose staff have served the society so well for many years, but our new partnership will bring new opportunities related to digital publishing, and we hope will increase our international subscriber base.”

      And quoting from Katherine McCarter’s letter:

      “After self

      publishing its
      journals for most of its history, ESA will now have a publishing partner. Beginning in 2016,
      John Wiley & Sons will publish ESA subscription and online journals as well
      as the
      . This transition is expected to allow ESA to enhance its journals with upgraded
      technology and to better serve its authors, reviewers and editors. All ESA members will
      have free access to the journals in 2016. This move, necessitated by
      the changing market
      for scientific journals and the demand for ever more sophisticated technology, means that
      while ESA will continue to own its journals and exercise editorial control, the production
      will move to our Wiley.”

      I don’t sit on the ESA Governing Board, so I don’t have all the information they have. Which is why I’m inclined to trust their judgment. They’re not infallible, of course. I suppose it’s possible they’ve made some huge mistake here–sold the membership and the journals out for peanuts, screwing the ESA for the long run while big evil Wiley takes all the benefits. But I don’t see any reason to think that’s what happened, and many reasons to think that’s not what happened.

      • I didn’t comment on whether it was a Good or a Bad thing. The point is that before your, say, $1000 went to ESA staff. Now your, say, $900 goes to Wiley staff. Just saying.

      • I’m still unclear why you think that’s a relevant consideration. If the choice is between “ESA switches to Wiley, and so its journals continue to be viable” and “ESA keeps doing what it was doing until its journals become unviable”, well, either way the staff in the ESA publications office end up out of work and money that would have gone to pay their salaries instead gets spent elsewhere, such as to pay the salary of someone working at Wiley. But in the former case, ESA and its journals continue to exist. And in the former case, some of my publication fee still goes directly to the ESA. In the latter case, none of it does, because ESA’s journals and maybe even ESA itself don’t exist.

        Sorry, perhaps I’m just being dense here. But I’m afraid that what you’re “just sayin'” seems irrelevant to me. And I say that as someone who has an habit of “just sayin” myself.🙂

      • p.s. to previous: like everyone, I’m sorry that the staff in the ESA publications office lost their jobs, even though I think they would’ve lost them one way or another in any case. But there’s nothing I could’ve done about that no matter where I chose to publish my papers.

        All I wanted to do was explain my own thinking about where I’d choose to publish a paper I just wanted to get out there, taking as given the options available to me.

        I still don’t see why the point you’re making should change my mind about where to publish.

  3. I’m surprised that “niche rhymes with sheesh” is winning the poll 2:1 over “niche rhymes with snitch”. I knew the latter pronunciation was mostly an American thing. But Americans are the source of 50% of our pageviews and I bet they’re more than 50% of our Twitter followers. I was expecting a poll much closer to 50:50. So either the poll respondents are heavily skewed towards non-Americans for some weird reason, or even many Americans rhyme niche with sheesh.

  4. The old “follow the money” post leads to the Sherpa database of which journals allow what kinds of archiving. Some allow the post-publication pdf to be used in open access repositories. Anyone got a suggestion for open access repositories in ecology?

    • I believe pubmed takes papers. I don’t know how many ecologists look there but they cover all the ecology journals and show up well in Google. And I don’t have any experience with it.

      Many school’s libraries also have a public repository for their faculty.

      I think maybe Arxiv and bioarxiv would count.

  5. I note with interest that the thing readers are least willing to do to help me see that George Price play is teach my classes for me.

    And everyone but me thinks Chris K. has too much time on his hands.

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