Friday links: teaching mid-career dogs new tricks, great moments in scientific outreach, and more

Also this week: RIP NSF deadlines, leading feminist philosopher suspended for sexual harassment, the coming reckoning in scientific publishing, common writing mistakes, your undergraduate students keep getting younger, and more. Also, Jeremy misreads one of Meghan’s links in an obvious amusing way.

From Meghan:

Big news for the US folks: the NSF solicitations for the new no deadline system are now online for DEB and IOS! There’s lots of good information in this DEBrief post, which also includes information about data dissemination and accessibility expectations. Regarding submitting proposals, the post says, “In sum, you can submit your full proposal any time starting now.” We can all now apply our knowledge of game theory to figuring out the optimal strategy for submitting a proposal (especially factoring in the possibility of an initial pulse in submissions). (Jeremy adds: apparently it really is time for some game theory. We now go to a live shot of every US ecologist and organismal biologist. πŸ˜‰ )

Also for the US folks: there’s now an OPUS option for mid-career folks (defined as Associate Professors). From the new solicitation:

OPUS: Mid-Career Synthesis.Β This track provides an opportunity for a mid-career researcher, defined as a candidate at the associate professor rank (or equivalent) to enhance or develop new research capabilities through collaboration with a mentor who will enable new understanding of their research system and questions of interest.

(Jeremy adds: when I read the words “OPUS option”, this was the first thing that came to mind. πŸ™‚ )

I’m part of a group of AAAS Leshner Fellows calling on AAAS to adopt a strong, enforceable policy regarding harassment by its honorees (including elected Fellows and award recipients). This is one step, but clearly we need to do more, as Jeff Dukes lays out well in the twitter thread that starts here:

From Jeremy:

Speaking of harassment…Leading feminist philosopher Avital Ronell has been suspended from NYU for a year for sexually harassing male graduate student Nimrod Reitman. NYU found her not guilty of stalking, retaliation, and sexual assault, but continues to investigate a new claim of retaliation. Prof. Ronell denies all the allegations. Reitman has now filed suit against Ronell and NYU. Further coverage from the NY Times. A woman being found guilty of sexually harassing a man obviously is very unusual, and unusual events tend to garner attention precisely because they’re unusual. But setting that unusual aspect of the case aside, and emphasizing that all I know is what I’ve read in the news, it seems like this case shares key features with other cases of powerful advisers bullying their advisees–expecting the advisees to be totally devoted to their adviser, work ridiculous hours, etc. For instance, the recent bullying cases of prominent astrophysicist Guinevere Kauffmann, psychologist Tania Singer, and cancer geneticist Nazneen Rahman all happen to involve women too, but I don’t think that’s their important commonality. The response from many of Ronell’s colleagues–defending her by emphasizing her standing in the field–also seems sadly typical of such cases. One minor aspect of the Ronell case does seem unique to the humanities. As far as I can recall, nobody ever defends scientists accused of sexually harassing their advisees by claiming, appallingly, that “genuine” intellectual engagement with the advisee ordinarily involves activities indistinguishable from sexual harassment. To which, just no. There is a clear bright line between good advising and sexual harassment; neither blurs into the other.

Common writing mistakes. #2 and #3 are the most common mistakes graduate students make in my experience. I have yet to encounter a grad student (myself very much included) who can’t vastly improve on #2 and #3.

A list of why academics teach badly. I’m linking to this to mostly to give myself a shameless excuse to link back to our old survey data on why people lecture as much, or as little, as they do. tl;dr: people mostly teach as they do for understandable reasons. And at least in our survey, those reasons mostly don’t include “making sure I get good student evals”, “pleasing my department chair”, or “ignorance of the pedagogical literature”.

Apparently, my career started during the worst era for scientific writing, but things have been getting better since then. I dunno. I haven’t noticed any change in the average quality of scientific writing over my career.

CIEE/ICEE (the Canadian equivalent of NCEAS and NESCent) has issued a new call for working group proposals. Deadline Oct. 19.

The internecine fights threatening to cripple the “IPCC for biodiversity”.

Mika McKinnon with a patient, good-humored Twitter thread on why geologists lick rocks. Includes gifs illustrating proper and improper licking technique (by, um, Doctor Who and Jack Sparrow, respectively). Protip: don’t lick mercury sulphide. πŸ™‚

This week in Things I’m Really Glad Have Never Happened At The ESA Meeting. πŸ™‚

Then a python ate them both. πŸ™‚

What it takes to get published in Nature, 1870s edition. πŸ™‚

Things that are older than students starting college this fall. 😦

From Brian:

Wiley has announced that the long-standing and respected journal Diversity and Distributions will be flipped from a traditional model (mostly libraries pay, some hybrid open access) to 100% Open Access for a $2200/article fee (full disclosure I am EiC of the sister journal Global Ecology and Biogeography which is NOT changing). Opinions on reader (library) pays vs. 100% OA (author pays) will differ. An important question in a 100% OA journal is the policy on waivers for students, authors without grants, or authors in countries with limited funding. Wiley’s policy isΒ here. Diversity and Distributions is a great journal and I know its EiC and many of its AEs and they have invested a lot of time and have done a great job. I really hope for their sake the journal survives the transition in good shape. A protest letter has been launched. The publishing world is about to go through a major shakeup; the fact that 50% of all articles are available by some method without going through the publisher paywall is bringing about a reckoning. I couldn’t hazard a guess where this will all end up. It could possibly be for the better, but even if so, I think there will be a lot of pain and winners and losers created in the meantime. The biggest concern is we enter a period where the rich (scientific reputation-wise) only get richer as they are the only ones who can afford OA fees. For my 5 year old thoughts on these issues see here.

13 thoughts on “Friday links: teaching mid-career dogs new tricks, great moments in scientific outreach, and more

    • It seems to vary a ton! For the NSF solicitation, they define it as being an associate professor (which, for me, means I will no longer be mid-career in a week!)

      • Thank you, Meghan! I’m experiencing an identity crisis (😬) at this moment, as I always saw myself as early career, but now became too old to apply for some nice grants and fellowships. In addition, I intend to go associate next year.

      • @ Marco:

        “I always saw myself as early career, but now became too old to apply for some nice grants and fellowships. ”

        Hold that thought for Meghan’s upcoming post on “unexpected signs that you’ve made a career transition”. πŸ™‚

  1. RE: writing tips, #3. I find redundancy creeping in because so many reviewers apparently don’t read the entire ms (I’m joking… kind of, no not really).

  2. I find it ironic that the “Open Access” for presumptive readers comes at the cost of closing off access to the very many scientists who won’t be able to pony up the $2200

    • Yes, this is the crux of it. If we lived in a world where open access was at a bare minimum fee of say $500 or $750 it might be better, but that trade-off would still exist (I can just imagine the year where I don’t have a grant and try to explain to my wife why we should pay $500 out of the household budget to publish a paper even if I am now at a career stage where in theory I could “afford” it).

      If we were in a world where universities or governments all provided funds to their employees for open access publishing that would work very nicely. But by my count only a few percent of authors live in countries where that is true at the moment and it is not like university budgets are brimming with money to make it seem likely that day is coming soon.

  3. That link on the worst era for sci writing was hilarious, particularly because it got the right dates for bad music but with the wrong type of music. Give me Abba, the Bee Gees, ELO, and Gaynor over the ponderous, discordant Nirvana and Soundgarden any day.

    I do agree that there were a number of papers that had very hard to follow methods or logic due to brevity, but not sure how isolated to 95-05. Particularly Nature and Science.

    And now, bring on the flames!

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