Also this week: myths about NSF grant applications, Stephen Heard vs. poetry, Ben Kerr vs. poetry, log(history), and more.
Be still, Brian’s beating heart: Nature with a piece on the ongoing relevance of Chamberlin’s (1890) idea of multiple working hypotheses. Quotes several ecologists.
Think increasing pressure to get grants and decreasing success rates at NSF DEB are causing ecologists to submit as many proposals as permissible in the hopes of getting funded? Think again. Most PIs do not submit multiple NSF grant applications in a single round, or submit at least one proposal every year. Nor is it becoming more common for PIs to do those things. Rather, most of the fluctuations over time in number of applications come from fluctuations in the perceived effort:reward ratio. PIs who wouldn’t otherwise submit throw their hats into the ring when it gets easier to submit proposals (as with the advent of FastLane), and when it looks like success rates will increase (as with the ARRA stimulus money). So, here’s an idea for increasing success rates: go back to paper proposals!
Terry McGlynn on the importance of mentors having periodic structured conversations with their mentees, rather than just being “accessible” or only asking non-specific questions like “How are things going?”
A mammalogist at the Smithsonian has been accused of misconduct on a collecting expedition and is at risk of being fired. Many of his colleagues say he’s being railroaded. Not knowing anything besides what’s in the article, I can’t comment. (ht Retraction Watch)
Nominations are open for the NSF Waterman Award, the most prestigious award available to a young US scientist. Also the most lucrative–the prize is $1M! Why not rope in some colleagues to nominate someone deserving? Especially a deserving woman, because no woman has won the Waterman in 13 years.
Stephen Heard on what it’s like to serve as the external examiner for a poetry thesis.
Speaking of poetry: Ben Kerr’s sonnet in honor of Rich Lenski’s 60th birthday. To both Rich and Ben, this is the only appropriate reaction. 🙂
This is very cool: an anthropologist blogging the history of the universe every day for a year–but with time on a log scale, so that each subsequent day, and associated blog post, covers a shorter period in the history of the universe. (ht Brad DeLong)
The latest illustration that online commenting is dying. Really, it never took off except for a small, distinctive minority of people. I continue to be sooooo thankful for our amazing commenters (whom we almost never have to moderate!), while recognizing that the ongoing amazingness of our comment threads depends on very specific conditions not easily duplicated. For starters, we’re a highly specialized blog with a scientific readership, mostly writing about topics that aren’t politically salient. A blog like ours is probably at more risk of having no commenters than terrible commenters. For anyone who’d rather talk online about politically-salient topics: good luck with that, you have my sympathies.
#realisticindianajones 🙂 I liked this one.
And finally, your faculty meetings are being sabotaged by the CIA. So is your university’s central administration. 🙂 Seriously, click the links, they’re
hilarious depressing hilariopressing. (ht @dandrezner)
In case you are bored this weekend, help some taxonomist to digitalize specimen records and make them available: