Also this week: gender and peer review outcomes in EEB, phones vs. printed data tables, Williamstown > Amherst, and more.
Charles Fox and Timothy Paine have a new paper on gender and peer review outcomes at six leading EEB journals (the BES journals, plus Evolution) from 2010-2015. Unusually high-powered study due to considering tens of thousands of papers. That high power turns out to be necessary: they detect some statistically-significant but small effects of first author gender on some peer review outcomes, with slightly worse outcomes for women in the cases where there’s a gender difference. Note that they can’t distinguish alternative hypotheses for why these small gender differences exist. One leading possibility (but not the only one) is that women first authors more often defer corresponding author status to a co-author. Papers on which the first author is not the corresponding author receive slightly more negative reviews on average, whether the first author is a man or women. Perhaps because corresponding authors who aren’t also first authors aren’t as good as first authors at writing up the paper, and/or are poorer judges of which journal the paper would best fit. As for why women are more likely than men to be first authors on papers for which someone else is corresponding author, I bet that’s because women are a bit more likely than men to leave the academic ecology career path at some point between bachelor’s degree and postdoc (data here), and so their work is more likely to be shepherded to publication by someone else. Which leads to worse peer review outcomes. Charles Fox and colleagues have been doing great, careful work on this topic for years, it’s great to see data being used to both identify a problem and narrow down its source, so that the problem can be addressed.
A serious and cogent-seeming (to me) criticism of that new PNAS paper claiming long-term decline in monarch butterfly abundance. Sounds to me like we know that monarch butterflies have declined over the period for which we’ve been monitoring their abundances, but that you can’t extract reliable abundance estimates further back from museum records. But I’m no expert, curious what people who actually study this stuff think.
The latest on using AI for image and sound file processing in conservation biology.
The University of California just dropped its subscriptions to Elsevier journals.
There is now a phone app that lets you take a picture of a data table and instantly convert it to an Excel spreadsheet. That sounds handy!
A biography of Archimedes written entirely in anagrams of “Archimedes”. 🙂
Indignant comments from Amherst alumni will be treated with the good-natured scorn they deserve. 😉