Friday links: useful unrealistic theory, final papers vs. you, and more (UPDATED)

Also this week: how not to be an absentminded professor, national academy elections, quantifying image manipulation, a story of tenure denial, next gen phylogenetic community ecology, pining for the good old days of 2013, and more. UPDATE: Also, NaturedocMcNaturedocface.

From Jeremy:

I’ve been hard on the phylogenetic community ecology bandwagon (see here and here), and guest-edited a spotlight in Functional Ecology that threw cold water on many of the big ideas that kicked off that bandwagon. Caroline Tucker thinks a new, better phylogenetic community ecology is here. Choice quote:

The key, to me at least, to avoid treating a phylogeny as just another matrix to analyze, but to consider and test the mechanisms that might link the outcome of millions of years of evolution to community-level interactions.

Evolutionary biologist Graham Bell is now a Fellow of the Royal Society. Congratulations, Graham! (ht a correspondent)

Ecologists and evolutionary biologists Hopi Hoekstra, Jim Bull, Jim Ehleringer, Steve Palumbi, Anne Stone, and Hugh Possingham are now members of the US National Academy of Sciences. Congratulations all! (ht a correspondent)

Political scientist Jennifer Diascoro was once a tenured prof at Kentucky. Then she moved to American University, where she was denied tenure. She’s going to be blogging about it, which is brave of her. Hers is an unusual experience. Most people who are hired into tenure track jobs get tenure, and few people who’ve been tenured one place later go on to be denied tenure somewhere else. But as she notes, it’s even more unusual for those people to share their experiences. Many of you will recall that Terry McGlynn of Small Pond Science shared his own story of tenure denial a while back, and some advice for what to do if you’re facing tenure denial. (ht @dandrezner)

A compilation of shadow CVs.

I didn’t even use Google Reader, but this still made me nostalgic for it. (ht Brad DeLong)

Bik et al. (unreviewed preprint) screened over 20,000 mostly-biomedical papers from 1995-2014 for image duplication and manipulation. I’ve skimmed it, looks like careful work. Overall, 3.8% of papers contained problematic figures, with half of those containing images that likely were deliberately manipulated in an attempt to mislead readers. Frequency of problematic images jumped in the early to mid 2000’s, but has been trending downward since. Frequency of problematic images declines with journal impact factor, though the relationship is noisy and is driven in part by high rates of image manipulation at certain obscure or dodgy publishers (e.g., Hindawi, Spandidos) (aside: other forms of misconduct, such as duplicate publication, also are most prevalent in low impact factor journals.) Papers by authors from developing countries were more likely to contain problematic images than those by authors from developed countries (aside: this echoes data for plagiarized preprints). Additional papers by authors of papers with problematic images had an increased likelihood of containing problematic images. Overall, the results suggest to me that it’s worthwhile for biomedical journals and reviewers to routinely check for image manipulation, which some of them now do. One question I have is how the journals were chosen; the study doesn’t say (or did I miss it in my skim?) I’m curious which of the authors’ results will get played up most online. I predict most commenters (e.g.) will ignore or gloss over the results that image duplication and manipulation is most common at low-impact journals from obscure or dodgy publishers, least common at high-impact journals like Science and Nature, disproportionately likely to come from serial offenders and authors based in developing countries, and trending downwards recently. Because to note those results would be to undermine some popular online narratives about misconduct and peer review. Such as that it’s Nature and Science that publish the most shoddy or dishonest work, that the primary cause of misconduct is competition to publish in high-impact journals, and that misconduct is getting worse.

Not the sort of thing I usually link to, but it’s a nice example of the form and makes a point near and dear to my heart: Stephanie Peacock with a nice little post on how a dead-simple (read: highly unrealistic) model of host-parasite metapopulation dynamics gives you practical insight into how to manage sea lice infections on salmon farms. Which it wouldn’t do if it was more realistic. Click through even if you don’t care about salmon or metapopulations.

A rare retraction of an ecology paper, this one from Science Advances. The authors realized they’d made a technical error, fully explained it, and asked to have the paper withdrawn. Good for them for doing the right thing. And in case it needs emphasizing–which it does, judging by some of the comments at Retraction Watch–there’s no suggestion of sloppiness or misconduct here. Mistakes happen in science, people.

UPDATE: The UK’s new polar exploration vessel will be named RRS David Attenborough. Sorry Boaty McBoatface. One of its remotely operated vehicles will be named Boaty in recognition of the Boaty McBoatface campaign. I think that’s a good solution.

Multa novit vulpes, apparently. πŸ™‚

And finally, the best one-liner about shadow CVs (aka CV of failures). πŸ™‚

From Meg:

Time management tips by Dr. Mellivora at Tenure, She Wrote to help avoid becoming the absentminded professor. There’s good advice there, some of which overlaps with tips I had on being more efficient.

Joan Strassmann had a post that relates to several recent Friday Links: the importance of nominating scientists who are women and/or underrepresented minorities for awards. One important reason for the dominance of white men when it comes to awards is that they are nominating much, much more often. So, one important step is to nominate more women. Something Gina Baucom and I did before starting DiversifyEEB was try to come up with our own list of women who might be competitive for different society awards and honors; we then wrote to people (women and men) who knew their work well and might serve as nominators. We told them about the award, what would be required to nominate someone, and then asked if they could do it. Almost everyone agreed. So, I think that strategy was successful, and have been thinking it would be worth repeating the effort this year (though I am still mulling over different strategies).

I would rather do anything else than grade your final papers.

4 thoughts on “Friday links: useful unrealistic theory, final papers vs. you, and more (UPDATED)

  1. As a small contribution to this shadow CV literature, I will repeat a story already published by Tom Schoener, who was the editor of Theoretical Population Biology who handled my 1976 paper on the marginal value theorem for foraging. It was turned down in the first submission : the reviewers were unimpressed by my math. Schoener was surprised and asked me to rewrite it, leaving out my stochastic version [ later I regretted this omission, when stochastic foraging models became widely used]. he then got a more friendly review, and it was published. it certainly does not meet the math standards of TPB. But it is the most cited paper ever published in TPB, and at the present[ april 2016, 40 yrs later] is the most downloaded paper in the journal. Must say something of general/lasting interest.

    We don’t do a very good job of teaching students about the process of science [ discovery,publishing, jobs, grants] and should do better: see
    for some literature on showing students how science really gets done.
    ric charnov

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