Also this week: Jacquelyn Gill’s new podcast, bear cam > your productivity, the upside of professional gossip, you never get a second chance to make a first impression (with whoever’s reviewing your grant proposal), a question ecologists should stop asking, Excel vs. your data, and more.
Very interesting post from Arjun Raj on scientific reputation, gossip, and reproducibility. A bit specific to molecular biology, a field in which labs routinely repeat each others’ experiments, but much of it generalizes. tl;dr: reputation and gossip arguably serve useful scientific purposes, albeit imperfectly.
Ecology is not the only field in which author order conventions are changing or have recently changed. (ht Retraction Watch)
Peter Keil reports on a discussion he had with Jon Chase, asking which is more fundamental to ecology, statistics or natural history? Without meaning to criticize Peter or Jon at all, and recognizing that I may very well be oversensitive on this, I think you’ve already gone astray if you’re even asking that question. And not just because both natural history and statistics obviously have their place. Nothing is “fundamental” to ecology, as evidenced by the fact that the list of great ecologists includes such totally different minds as Gause and Clements. Ecology is a big tent that developed by combining the diverse approaches of people with totally different motivations and intellectual commitments. So when you say that “X is fundamental to ecology”, all you’re really saying “I like X” (and sometimes “I dislike not-X”). It’s great that you love whatever “X” is for you. Ecology wouldn’t exist if people didn’t love doing it! But with respect, try not to sound like you think ecology is identical with or defined by X, because that sounds a little exclusionary to people who don’t share your love of X. In the linked post, Jon notes that G. E. Hutchinson’s line about how MacArthur knew his warblers really speaks to him. But personally, this lovely passage from Ben Bolker really speaks to me. Which says something about Jon, and something about me–and nothing about what’s “fundamental” to ecology. (UPDATE: See the comments, where Jon Chase was kind enough to stop by and provide some context and background, which wasn’t reported fully in Peter Keil’s post. Jon’s not actually concerned with what is or isn’t “fundamental” to ecology in the sense I took it in this post, and I can attest he’s not a curmudgeon. :-))
Andrew Hendry takes a data-based look at what journal special issues are good for.
You may have heard about the current controversy in economics over a leading journal’s publication of a paper of debatable originality, with the publication decision being taken by an editor who arguably had a conflict of interest with the authors. I have no opinion–this is one of those situations that’s both difficult and unpleasant to try to fully understand as an outsider. There are a lot of econ-specific cultural factors at work in the background, some of them pretty ugly. But if you want to dig in and try to sort out what’s going on for yourself, here’s Noahpinion with some broader context.
Joan Strassmann says, correctly, that you have 10 minutes to impress the reviewer of your grant proposal. I’d emphasize that this is not just a matter of presentation. My experience as both a proposal author and reviewer is that poor presentation often is a symptom of poor content. If your ideas aren’t clear and compelling on the page, it’s often because they’re not clear and compelling.
Data on whether referee reports and editorial decisions at leading economics journals predict future citations. Includes data relating citation rates to various features of authors and papers (e.g., how prolific the author is, how many authors the paper had). (ht Marginal Revolution)
What to get for the cat-loving, R-using woman in your life. (ht Simply Statistics)
And finally, you thought your department meetings were
p.s. I’m on holiday July 7-17. Comment moderation and replies to comments will be slow at best. (From Meg: Hey! Is that a comment on my comment moderation speed?!) (From Jeremy: Ok, comment moderation will be even faster than it usually is. And if it’s not, complain to Meg.😉 )
Jacquelyn Gill is co-hosting a podcast called Warm Regards; Eric Holthaus (Slate) is the host, with Jacquelyn and Andy Revkin (NY Times) as co-hosts. Jacquelyn says, “Our goals for this podcast are to create conversation about the front lines of climate change, but also to humanize the scientists and communicators (and to foster dialog among them). To that end, we very much want to create space for discussions that aren’t happening, like dealing with uncertainty, or the emotional impacts of working on climate change.” You can find the blog on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Stitcher, as well as Twitter.
The Brooks Falls brown bear/salmon cam is back! For those who aren’t familiar from previous years, this is a live cam that shows a salmon run in Alaska, letting you watch bears catch salmon. Sorry for the hit to your productivity. (Updated 7/8/16 to fix link)
Margaret Kosmala had a post warning about ways Excel can mess up data (and how to avoid the problem). (Jeremy adds: Hey, that was gonna be my link! Stop, link thief! Or I’ll say “stop” again!)