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. 😉
That was meant to say “Insert indignant comment from Amherst alum here”, but I messed it up with bad syntax…I’m doing a terrible job of repping Amherst!
It took almost two centuries, but we Ephs have finally trained you Amherst alums to self-own. 🙂
Re women serving less often as corresponding authors: I’ve often thought that professors or other senior scientists do early career scientists a major disservice by not insisting that they serve as first authors. The problem starts with the journals, with their anachronistic limitation of only allowing one corresponding author, and only allowing the emails for that one author to be published. Yes, the reason given is often that the senior scientist has a more stable email, but let the (often) more junior first author give their stable, personal yahoo, gmail, 163, whatever, email, AND have the professor give their institutional contact. I don’t know how many times I try to contact a lead author and give up, when Dr. Big Name can’t be bothered to respond or is on sabbatical or retired.
Also, if the junior researcher is going to stay in science, they need to learn how to work though that heartwarming and delightful publication process firsthand.
I meant, serving as corresponding authors.
Re: who serves as corresponding author and why, Meghan has a paper on this that grew out of some blog posts: https://dynamicecology.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/last-corresponding-authorship-in-ecology-a-series-of-blog-posts-turns-into-a-paper/
Confess I’m slightly surprised and disappointed more readers aren’t clicking through to the Fox & Paine paper on gender and peer review outcomes in EEB journals. But the paper was published a few days ago and I believe Charles Fox has been trailing it on Twitter, so perhaps many of our readers have already seen it?
As somebody who has read a couple dozen papers on the topic, I would say this is the best and most definitive paper so far (across all fields, not just ecology). So people should read it!
I handled the paper as AE, so have read it carefully a few times. It’s really, really good, and a really important read!