Also this week: a postdoc-to-faculty transition quantified, sexual assault in the field, postdocing as a new mom, academia vs. the tech industry, swim desk, and more. Including a rare link from Brian!
Jeremy Yoder’s ultimately-successful search for a tenure-track faculty position, by the numbers. (ht Small Pond Science) Related: my recent data-based post on how you can’t predict your odds of getting a faculty interview in ecology from common quantitative metrics like number of publications, years of postdoctoral experience, or h-index. The only crude quantitative metric that predicts the number of interviews you’ll get is the number of positions for which you apply.
Also related: the 2016-17 EEB jobs spreadsheet now includes a sheet on which you can anonymously post the total number of faculty positions for which you’ve applied (ever) and the total numbers of interviews and offers you’ve received. So far, with ~20 people reporting, the results are completely unsurprising: people who submit more applications tend to get more interviews, but there is lots of variation around that trend.
The newly elected members of the US National Academy of Sciences include ecologist Mary Firestone and evolutionary biologists Doug Schemske, Dolph Schluter, and Doug Soltis. (UPDATE: link fixed)
A while back I linked to accusations of scientific misconduct relating to a high-profile Science paper showing that microplastics harm fish. Other researchers claimed the study was largely or entirely fabricated. A preliminary investigation by Uppsala University cleared the authors, Peter Eklöv and Oona Lönnstedt, of any wrongdoing, even though the authors could not provide the raw data. The authors said the only copy of the data was on a laptop that coincidentally was stolen just after the paper was published. A second investigation by Sweden’s Central Ethics Review Board has now concluded that the authors were guilty of “scientific dishonesty”. Science has now retracted the paper at the request of the authors. The authors maintain their innocence, but asked that the paper be retracted because others are suspicious of misconduct. Details here and here; the above is a summary of what’s at those links. I am not inclined to draw any larger lessons from this quite unusual case.
Andrew Gelman (and in the comments, Ben Bolker) raise an eyebrow at some of the stats in a recent Nature paper on biodiversity-ecosystem function. My eyebrow is raised too, for the same reasons as Ben’s.
FAQ for academics interested in a job in the tech industry. Written for academic social scientists, but equally applicable to academics from other fields, including ecology. Related: our old guest post from Ted Hart on a career as a data scientist in Silicon Valley. (ht @jtlevy)
NIH is going to limit the amount of grant funding a PI can receive. Currently, 10% of NIH grant receipients get 40% of NIH funding. The purpose is to free up funding for early- and mid-career PIs. Makes sense. Various lines of data from NIH and other funding agencies indicate that throwing lots of money at a few PIs is inefficient, though it’s not a slam-dunk case. Note that you can’t increase success rates at NSF this way. If memory serves, at NSF (at least at the Division of Environmental Biology), very few PIs hold more than one grant simultaneously.
Related to the previous link: I missed this at the time, but back in 2015 Cook et al. quantified the relationship between research group size and various measures of productivity for 398 British PIs. They found that larger groups publish more papers. Larger groups also publish in higher impact journals on average and garner more citations, but those trends are very weak. All measures of productivity also exhibit diminishing returns to increasing group size, which is an argument in favor of shopkeeper science, though not a decisive one. Related: my old post asking what’s the ideal size of an ecology lab group.
Here’s a list of the conferences NSF DEB program officers will be attending this summer.
This is way better than Anscombe’s quartet:
This is an important and brave post about how being sexually assaulted while doing field work impacted a paleoanthropologist’s life and career. One of the striking things is how she was ignored or dismissed when she spoke about it, and the impact that had.
Sarah Supp had a great post on her experiences as a postdoc and new mom.
An interesting survey on your attitudes towards goals and methods for conservation. It has about 30 multiple choice questions (takes about 10 minutes). Very thought provoking around some of the issues discussed in this blog (and of course all over the field of conservation). After taking it, it shows you a plot of the range of responses and where you rank relative to the crowd. Turns out I am very close to the center of the pack with a slight bias in a direction I cannot reveal without tipping off the goals of the survey.