Friday links: regrets about quitting academia, and more

Also this week: NSERC prize winners, preprints vs. citations, and more.

From Jeremy:

Here’s an interesting variation on academic “quit lit”: Marcel Haas regrets quitting astrophysics. (ht Meghan) Related: this old post compiling “quit lit” from people who left all sorts of professions. Some of whom moved into the same professions that other people quit. The lesson I take home from this is the boring, obvious one: people are different, professions are different, people don’t (and can’t) always have perfect information about what a given profession is like, and so sometimes people change professions. Which is fine, because it mostly improves the match between people and professions (not always, as the first link illustrates). Therefore, the fact that some people who leave profession X write “quit lit” about doing so does not show that there’s anything wrong with profession X at a systemic level.

The Atlantic profiles ex-population ecologist, now “cliodynamicist” Peter Turchin. Having read one of Turchin’s books attempting to discover cyclic patterns in historical data and use those patterns to predict the future of human societies, I have to say I wasn’t very convinced. Certainly not as convinced as I was by his outstanding work on the drivers of population cycles. But I’m no expert, obviously.

The 2020 NSERC prize winners have been announced. Congratulations to ecologists and evolutionary biologists Mary O’Connor, Fanie Pelletier, and Marc Johnson on their E.W.R. Steacie Fellowships!

Stephen Heard reviews the limited, shaky evidence that posting preprints increases your citations.

1 thought on “Friday links: regrets about quitting academia, and more

  1. Huh – it also was (and maybe still is) true that in Astronomy the top ~8 papers on the arXiv each day receive higher citation counts, with the first paper getting ~double the citations of an average paper. But … even though basically no papers aren’t put on the arXiv so it’s hard to do a control, getting first on the arXiv is also a signal you’re motivated about the paper. About a third of papers are submitted in the first ten minutes to show up first the next day, so you really have to submit with twenty or so seconds of the clock turnover to the next day to get first.

    So, well a lot of ideas about people not reading the whole list (to the point of people setting up services that would re-order them randomly for fairness), but you can’t really do an experiment to show it’s not author motivation.

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