Friday links: mad (lack of) skillz, preprints vs. double-blind review, and more

Also this week: Joan Strassmann is marching on Washington, your periodic reminder that everybody gets rejected, measurement error vs. you, do studies of the “growth mindset” replicate, Hieronymous Bosch vs. the third reviewer, and more.

From Jeremy:

Measurement error (or using an index of whatever you really wanted to measure) really screws up your ability to statistically control for the effects of different predictor variables on a response variable, and so identify those predictors that truly affect the response variable. The linked paper is from social science, but it applies to ecology too. (ht Andrew Gelman, who comments).

Would you like to see unreviewed preprints be widely adopted and widely read so that authors can get pre-publication feedback on their work, and to accelerate and broaden dissemination of results? Or would you like to see all peer review be double-blind? Choose one, because they’re incompatible. The linked piece is speculation about hypothetical worlds that don’t actually exist and might never exist, and so might be too speculative or far removed from actually-existing reality for some tastes. But it’s of interest for anyone who wants to hold compatible ideals. (ht Retraction Watch)

Psychology’s replication crisis is sucking in Carol Dweck’s massively-influential work on the “growth mindset”. I’m unconcerned about minor errors and omissions in Dweck’s papers, especially since Dweck is admirably quick to admit and correct such errors and omissions. I’m more concerned with the possibility that implausibly-large effect sizes that nobody else can replicate are a product of some combination of the file drawer problem and failure to pre-specify all hypothesis-testing analyses (what Andrew Gelman calls the “garden of forking paths”).  (ht @Noahpinion)

Andrew Hendry notes that he has weak (technical) skillz–but argues that “ability to teach me technical skills” isn’t what you should be looking for in a graduate supervisor. I’m like Andrew, only more so, since I don’t even have Andrew’s mad field skillz. I do, however, have mad growing-bugs-in-jars skillz. I leave it to you to decide if “blogging” counts as a “skill” in this context.

Stephen Heard lists every faculty position he applied for but didn’t get. It’s a long list, which is totally normal.

Smithsonian mammalogist Kris Helgen is taking up a new position as a professor in Australia. Recently he was cleared of all misconduct; the accusations against him and subsequent investigation were both seriously flawed. We linked to this story in the past, so I wanted to pass on the update.

Looks interesting: whatever happened to public intellectuals as opposed to “thought leaders”? Put another way: whatever happened to foxes as opposed to hedgehogs? Do you think the same thing is happening within ecology–replacement of generalists with lots of medium-sized ideas by specialists with single big ideas? I have no opinion myself, I just want to toss out a provocative but unanswerable question and watch y’all argue about it. 🙂

A Hieronymous Bosch-based version of the usual joke about the third reviewer. 🙂

And finally, this week in Academic Humor I Hesitate To Link To Because Some Of You Might Find It A Bit Too On-The-Nose. (ht @dandrezner)

From Meg:

Joan Strassmann explains why she’s marching on Washington this weekend.

9 thoughts on “Friday links: mad (lack of) skillz, preprints vs. double-blind review, and more

  1. “Stephen Heard lists every faculty position he applied for but didn’t get. It’s a long list, which is totally normal.”

    Worth looking at the comments on this: Simon Leather and I think it’s _very_ long by UK standards and there’s some discussion as to why this might be the case.

    • My basic advice to a postdoc who is in their prime job searching years (e.g. year 2 and 3) is apply to every job that could possibly be a fit (and expect to be rejected from most of them). I wonder if that basic rule isn’t universal. Its just that what is perceived as a possible job varies (i.e. to all of North America in NA, to all of your home country in Europe) and if that doesn’t explain most of the difference.

      And just to add data, I’ve never looked at all my rejections, but I’m sure its over 30. Maybe over 50.

      • I suppose it depends on how widely one interprets “could possibly be a fit”. Would be good to get some younger UK researchers commenting on this as the experience that Simon and I had is rather out of date now, a time when there were far fewer positions that one could apply for.

      • Good point about when you went on the market too. I know in the US, the people most senior to me (i.e. who are about to retire) have a very different story on the job market – I would guess 5-10 applications was much more typical.

  2. yes I agree, as far as I remember (it is a long time ago now) I think I only applied for a handful of PhD positions as well, before landing one. Pre-interview rejection rate is much higher now fro current cohorts of BSc ans MSc students. There are of course a lot more undergraduates than when I was a student, but arguably more PhD positions available as well in the UK?

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