Also this week: investing in Bigfoot, the feds vs. predatory publishers, Darwin vs. universities, Mark Vellend fan club, new movie about pioneering scientists, toddler vs. philosophy, and more.
I’m late to this, sorry, just slipped my mind: the 2016 ESA award winners. Congratulations to all!
One reason zombie ideas are hard to kill: basically nobody cites rebuttals of published papers. Even those who do rarely take the rebuttal fully on board–when they’re not misciting it as supporting the original paper (which they do 8% of the time). Publication of a rebuttal doesn’t even affect the rate at which the original paper is cited. But I could’ve told you that. The authors of the linked piece suggest a possible solution: prominently link rebuttals to the original paper. Curious what folks think of that idea:
A physicist who started consulting for crackpots. Very interesting story. (ht Small Pond Science)
Andrew Hendry tells marine biologists to quit asking whether plankton will adapt to climate change, because it’s dead obvious they will. Instead, take for granted that they’re going to adapt and ask much more interesting questions about the consequences. A nice example of professional evaluative judgment in action. Students: one of the most important things you can acquire in grad school (at least if you want to go on in academia) is critical but fair judgment about what scientific questions are worth asking. There are many ways to acquire it: reading groups, attending seminars and conferences, submitting and reviewing papers, defending your proposed research to your committee…And, you know, reading this blog. 🙂
Stephen Heard on why he still cares what journal a paper is published in. I’d add another reason to care, in the context of evaluating applicants for faculty positions with a research component: if you publish in selective journals, that shows that you can convince a careful, critical, independent expert in your field that your work is interesting and important. Which is evidence that your work is interesting and important. It also demonstrates your ability to convince others of the interest and importance of your work, which you need to do to get grants and do the other things needed to become a leader in your field.
Nature Scientific Reports is about to pass Plos One as the world’s largest scientific journal. The linked article speculates on the reasons, focusing on speed of ms handling and impact factor. No doubt impact factor is a big, um, factor, especially for authors from China. But I wonder if another factor is just that Scientific Reports is published by Nature, which gives some authors the vague sense that it must be sort of prestigious. Aside: Plos One continues to crater–submissions there have been crashing as fast as they once grew for over a year now.
Applying Darwinian medicine to universities. (ht Brad DeLong)
Hidden Figures is a major movie coming out in January, about three African-American women who played key roles at NASA as engineers and mathematicians working on the program that put John Glenn into orbit. I hope it turns out to be as good as the linked trailer makes it look. Early candidate for the list of best movies about scientists? (ht Small Pond Science)
Using textual analysis to measure the paradigmaticness–really, cohesiveness–of various scientific and social-scientific fields. I know nothing about this, but it’s interesting. Should the fact that the approach gives the answer I’d have expected–physics, chemistry, and math are cohesive fields, biology somewhat less so, sociology is a mess–reassure me or worry me? Am now curious what you’d find if you used the same approach on subdisciplines within biology. Is evolutionary biology cohesive and ecology a mess? (ht Kieran Healy)
A public(ish) company is trying to raise $15M to find Bigfoot (scroll down a ways). They’re serious enough to have an SEC filing. I suggest looking where black bears are. 😉 Sadly, I’m unaware of any way to short sell this idea.
Lego grad student. Warning: if you think, as I do, that Piled Higher and Deeper or Shit Academics Say is funny but also kind of one-note cynical, you maybe shouldn’t click through. Because this is like that, only more so. (ht Dan Drezner)
You’ll need cheering up after that last link, so here’s the funniest philosophy video ever, and no, I’m not forgetting Monty Python’s Philosophy World Cup: toddler solves trolley problem. Hilarious even for non-philosophers. (ht my best friend, who knows what I like)
The US government is suing OMICS Group for deceptive publishing practices. The link is to a Retraction Watch story, which quotes this from the press release:
The defendants in this case used false promises to convince researchers to submit articles presenting work that may have taken months or years to complete, and then held that work hostage over undisclosed publication fees ranging into the thousands of dollars…It is vital that we stop scammers who seek to take advantage of the changing landscape of academic publishing.
(ht: Stephen Heard)