Also this week: “winning” a Title IX case, new ecology podcast, Google vs. history, a taxonomy of bad science, the scientific equivalent of novellas, does nature look natural in Ithaca?, he’s just not that into
you silt deposits, and more. Including Love Actually clickbait. Because that’s what you came here for, right?
Tim Poisot is wrong on the internet (sorry Tim, gotta call ’em like I see ’em 🙂 ). Specifically with regard to whether it’s appropriate to cite a blog post during peer review. Tim apparently believes in proof by authority–that if authors and reviewers disagree, the winner in the eyes of the editor will be, and should be, whoever cites the most “valid” source. I disagree. I think that the job of editors is to evaluate each side’s argument on the merits, not evaluate the purported “validity” of the sources invoked. Especially since you can find a peer-reviewed paper–or a blog post!–to cite in support of anything. And I think one cites sources not as an attempt at proof by authority, but to flesh out and fully explain one’s argument (e.g., “I believe X for reasons Y and Z, as discussed more fully in [reference].”). So I don’t think a citation of a blog post should be discounted simply because it’s not peer-reviewed. And although I’m sure sometimes it would be–for instance by Tim!–I think times are changing on that front, though of course it’s hard to say exactly how fast. Just to pick examples from my own experience: a famous ecologist recently framed an entire peer-reviewed paper around one of our blog posts. A textbook now uses a term I introduced into the ecological literature via a blog post. A post of ours is cited in the most important ecology book of the year. A journal EiC invited the authors of one of our posts to turn it into a peer-reviewed paper which has now been published. I have two posts that developed into peer-reviewed papers. Standard scholarly references like the APA manual now include instructions for how to formally cite blog posts in peer-reviewed papers…Anyway, I’m surprised that Tim would argue that proof by authority not only is but should be the way peer review works. I hope that I’m misreading him, in which case my apologies.
Major Revisions is a new ecology podcast from three postdocs. An early episode links to one of our posts, so I’m sure it’s great. 🙂 (I haven’t actually had a chance to listen yet, but wanted to get the word out.) They cover topics like the most important questions in ecology, applying to grad school, and the ins and outs of peer review.
Andrew Gelman with a very good taxonomy of bad science.
Do we need the scientific equivalent of novellas? That is, pieces 75-150 pages long. Longer and more fully developed than a single article, but narrower and with less filler than a book.
Matthew Holden asks why conservation journals aren’t yet on board with Axios Review to make peer review more efficient. I’ve posted on Axios Review several times; here‘s the most recent post (full disclosure: I’m an editor for Axios Review).
I’m years late to this, but here is the origin of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, in comic form. Great stuff, smart and funny. (ht Jeff Ollerton in the comments). And now I know where Brad DeLong got that Victorian Twitter joke he keeps reposting. 🙂
Wittgenstein on Ithaca:
Meg went to Cornell, I’m sure she can tell us if nature looks natural in Ithaca. 🙂
Ok, fine, nobody except me is amused by my attempt to turn a random Wittgenstein quote into an ecology joke. Here’s some seasonal Love Actually clickbait instead. It’s pretty good, as seasonal Love Actually clickbait goes. Philistines. 😉
And finally, the most famous alumnus of Caistor Grammar School, according to Google. 🙂
The NSF DEBrief blog advises us to choose our project titles wisely when submitting proposals. A key part is:
It can seem like a strong, scientifically precise, and erudite proposal title might inform and impress readers. But that misses half the point: it’s not simply about avoiding misunderstanding. Instead, a good title is a vehicle for audience engagement; it seeks to cultivate positive responses. This happens when you use straight-forward, plain language, minimizing jargon and tech-speak, with a clear message. The rest of these tips are basically more specific examples of ways to do this.
This account of what it’s like to “win” a Title IX case is harrowing.
Hoisted from the comments:
Doing some holiday shopping for the scientist in your life? Our commenters have you covered with their favorite novels featuring scientists.
Jeremy’s post on why ecologists seem to switch from fundamental to applied work as they get older led to a great thread. Entertaining and insightful.