Also this week: new call for Am Nat special features, how to write your #ESA2019 abstract, new data on “shopkeeper science”, and more.
Am Nat is calling for special feature proposals. Speaking as an Am Nat editor, I’d emphasize that we welcome integrative, field-advancing proposals in all areas of ecology, evolution, behavior, genetics, and allied fields. Don’t assume that your idea for a special feature about [topic] wouldn’t be a good fit because Am Nat historically hasn’t published many papers on [topic]. Quite possibly, we’d love to publish more on [topic] and so would be very happy to receive your special feature proposal!
Steve Cooke recently sparked a lot of, um, discussion on Twitter for saying that he co-authors 60+ papers/year because he doesn’t work excessive hours and doesn’t explicitly or implicitly pressure any of his trainees to do so. Now he’s written a follow up blog post where he explains his way of working, why it works for him and his family, and what he trades off to make it work. He emphasizes that this is just what works for him and YMMV, and that in various ways he’s very fortunate to be able to work as he does.
Abstracts for the 2019 ESA meeting are due soon. See this old post and comments for some advice on the requirement that your abstract include “specific results”.
I once published a paper in a Frontiers In journal, at the invitation of a colleague, back when it was fairly new. I now regret having done so; here’s one illustration of why.
Data on (lack of) politically-partisan undergraduate grading in the US humanities and social sciences, and the perception thereof. Not a lot of data in total, so personally I don’t know that I’d draw any very strong conclusions. But I appreciate the effort to use data to address a widespread mistaken perception, even though my own anecdotal-and-possibly-unrepresentative experience suggests that such perceptions are extremely data-resistant. Most people won’t hear about the data, and many of the rest will consciously or subconsciously disbelieve the data. But still, better than not having any data injected into the discussion at all.
Writing in Nature, Wu et al. use citation network analysis from millions of scientific papers and patents to argue that the work of small teams is more innovative and disruptive than that of large teams. Good summary from Ed Yong here. I link to this mainly to give myself the shameless excuse to link back to my old post tentatively praising shopkeeper science. See also this commentary from Sean Carroll, highlighting other work showing that, conditional on receiving NSF funding, small teams aren’t any more likely to produce disruptive work than large teams. That suggests that, if you want to fund more disruptive ideas, you need to fund more teams (of whatever size), and that you need to fund those teams in such a way that they’re incentivized to pursue disruptive ideas. All of which sounds like an argument for the NSERC Discovery Grant system to me. But Canadian that I am now, I would say that. And it has to be acknowledged that there’s a lot more that goes into determining scientific productivity besides the funding system or the distribution of research team sizes. As illustrated by the fact that, on a per-investigator or per-dollar basis, Canada certainly punches its weight compared to other wealthy countries in terms of fundamental research output in fields covered by the Discovery Grant program. But IIRC, it doesn’t punch hugely above it’s weight.
I’m years late to this, but here’s the very funny browser game Science Kombat. Choose from one of eight famous scientists and fight the others; each has powers related to their discoveries.
There’s lots of good stuff in this post by Andrew Hendry about how to be productive. (Here’s a related older post of mine.) I like the Leung principle (“Don’t spend massive amounts of time on things that don’t require your help AT THE EXPENSE of things that do require your help”). When I’ve thought about what service to do over the past several years, one of the things I’ve weighted heavily is “would this happen if I didn’t do it?” Andrew’s post also talks about not being the bottleneck; that has been a major sabbatical goal of mine!