Also this week: Aristotle on trolling, natur
alists, self-funding your research, Audobon the prankster, Obama vs. bison, and more. And this week’s funniest webpage is one that doesn’t exist.
Very sad news: Ilkka Hanski has passed away. I never met him, knowing him only through his hugely influential work on metapopulation dynamics. He made important contributions as a modeler (e.g., core-satellite hypothesis), methods developer (e.g., incidence functions), and empiricist (e.g., butterfly metapopulation dynamics, evolution of dispersal and other traits in spatially structured populations). He also worked on a range of other problems, such as the causes of population cycles in microtine rodents. After receiving his PhD at Oxford in 1979, he returned to his native Finland and built a world-leading center for metapopulation research at the University of Helskini. Among his many awards and honors, he was a member of the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters, a foreign member of the Royal Society of London and the US National Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Crafoord Prize.
This week’s winner of the intertubes: “Aristotle” (really, University of Toronto philosophy professor Rachel Barney) on trolling. (ht Brad DeLong)
I missed this at the time, but this great news was last week’s intertube winner:
Long-term changes (or not) in the publication careers of PhD recipients in various fields of science and social science. The average PhD recipient in most fields now starts publishing a year or two earlier than in the 1950s. The proportion of PhD recipients who never publish anything has fluctuated over time differently in different fields. Most interestingly, the distribution of publication career lengths for PhD recipients who publish at least one paper has hardly changed since the 1950s. In particular, the proportion of PhD recipients with short publication careers (<6 years) is flat or only slightly increasing. The apparent lack of change could be due in part to truncation of the data. You can’t yet tell if, say, someone who got their PhD in 2000 will have a 20+ year publication career. But if there has been a change since the 1950s, it’s happened recently. Because there’s no hint of an increase in short publication careers among PhD recipients from the late 90s or early oughts. (ht Retraction Watch)
Jeff Leek’s advice on social media for new scientific users. Good for newbies, though it’s not very detailed and there are a few bits I disagree with. I doubt you’ll build much of a following on Twitter just by retweeting anything you find interesting or important, even if you focus on some specific topic. And while it’s good to recognize what will and won’t gain you social media followers, if you approach social media by asking “How do I gain followers?” or “How do I make myself and my work more well-known?”, you’re doing it wrong. It’s like offline networking in that way.
Wait, Audobon invented a bunch of species to prank a rival? (ht Not Exactly Rocket Science)
Terry McGlynn asks if you’d self-fund your entire research program. He’s considering it. Related old post. As Meg points out in the comments on Terry’s post, a related question is whether to pay yourself summer salary from your research grant, or spend all your grant money on science.
This is from last year but I think I missed it at the time: predictors of retractions and corrections. The take-home: no, pressure to publish in high impact journals is not what causes misconduct.
What are universities for, and who’s responsible for running them and making the public case for them? (ht Brad DeLong) From a British, leftist perspective, but has many insights that generalize. Here’s one:
[A]cademics have had a passive aggressive attitude towards the university: They think they should be running the place, while lacking enough interest in its total operations to put in the relevant effort.
- Algeria has the best national animal. Multa novit vulpes. 🙂
- White-tailed deer? Seriously, Costa Rica and Honduras? Being from the eastern US, I think of white-tailed deer as giant rats with antlers.
- I like Hungary’s, Serbia’s, Bhutan’s, and Indonesia’s choices to go with mythical birds or animals. And once you’ve crossed that line, why stop at traditional mythical creatures like the turul? I think weresharks, ROUS’s, gelatinous cubes, and jackalopes deserve serious US consideration. 🙂
- Not content with a mere national animal or national bird, India has a national bird, national animal, national reptile, national aquatic animal, and national heritage animal. I assume that Meg will now start lobbying the US to adopt a national cladoceran. 🙂
In the comments, tell us what you think of your country’s national animal/bird/whatever. And if you don’t like it, tell us what it should be instead! 🙂 (ht @kjhealy)
And finally, one of the benefits of not being a naturalist is that I’m at no risk of being mistaken for…something else. 🙂
Ed Yong ranked (and summarized) every episode of David Attenborough’s Life series, in honor of his 90th birthday (Attenborough’s, not Yong’s 😉 ). Or should that be that he summarised it in honour of his 90th birthday?
An excellent “page not found” page. Maybe we need a special ecology-themed one?
This gif showing global temperatures through time is really compelling and would work well in a class on climate change, I think:
I love this post by Acclimatrix at Tenure, She Wrote on self-care, hobbies, and work-life balance. Not surprisingly, I especially liked this paragraph:
“How do you find the time?” is pernicious. It’s a form of concern-trolling, because the person seems like they have your best interests at heart, but they’re really just shaming you for not being at work all the time. Don’t listen to them. First, you don’t need to work eighty hours a week to succeed in academia, and most people probably aren’t anyway, even if they think they are. Secondly, having hobbies and outlets is good. Breaks make you more productive; this is one reason the tech industry is all about having Lego stations at work, or things like the Pomodoro method are so effective. Strong networks and interests make you healthier and happier. Healthy, happy people are more productive. Knitting, beer-brewing, and tending to your SCOBY won’t get you tenure by themselves, but they’re almost certainly helping more than hurting.