Friday Recommended Reads #12


Did you know that the funding rates of NSF Graduate Fellowships are about 50%!? That’s true as long as your letter-writers get all their letters in on time. For the 2/3 of all applicants who have a recommendation letter arrive late, the funding rate is 0%.

It’s not often that students from low-income backgrounds attend wealthy universities. But it happens sometimes. Here’s an interesting little article about what it’s like to be poor student surrounded by rich students.

photo-mainI had to spend way too much time in a car this week, alone with NPR. And let me tell you, this gave me the chance to catch the Planet Money five-part series about the garment industry, which is spectacular journalism and storytelling. They tell this story by following the production of t-shirts they ordered, featuring this squirrel, a pun on a classic Keynes phrase about the forces governing the capitalist market economy.

The current pope of the Catholic church is sounding a lot more like Jesus of Nazareth than his predecessors. (Don’t get too thrilled: being gay is still a sin, and women are still second-class members our species.) Check out chapter two the latest document released by his administration. There some serious words in there:

Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.

Did you ever wonder how long it took for faculty members to land their jobs, and how much time and effort they had to put into the job market? So did Alex Bond, so he set out to collect data, and he presented the results in this great post on his site, The Lab and Field.

Impact factors are dumb, but it doesn’t stop people from using them. There are many citation-based approaches to sizing up journals other than the classic “impact factor.” Daniel Hocking wrote a paper to compare these measures of journals in ecology and evolution. Here’s his blog post about the paper, with a link to his paper.

Below is a 1907 image of Churchill, up in Manitoba, Canada. This place is well known as a hangout for polar bears. (Image by Geraldine Moodie)File:Royal North West Mounted Police barracks and Churchill River, Churchill, 1907 (HS85-10-18547).jpg

Can you believe that this place has 198 species of spiders? Maybe it’s just me, but I’m willing to bet that they’re boring spiders. And I don’t mean that they dig holes into wood.

On the death of Nelson Mandela: “Mandela lived a life without sanctimony. You try it; it’s not easy. His lack of piety helped him turn former foes into friends.” This and a little more from Bono.

If you accidentally steal a shipment of 60Co, don’t open up the sealed container.

Here is a novel approach to cutting back on the rejection-review cycle in scientific publishing: pay a bit of cash to a group that will procure reviews and then attempt to get your paper into journals on your behalf. Or something like that. Ask Jeremy Fox, who is involved with the project.

For links, thanks to Cedar Reiner and Chris Buddle’s Expiscor.

3 thoughts on “Friday Recommended Reads #12

  1. Just to clarify slightly: Axios Review, the independent editorial board I’ve joined, doesn’t really advocate on your behalf with any journal, as least that’s not how I think of it. It’s more like a matching service. In a nutshell, you as an author send us an ms and ask “Would this be a good fit for journals A, B, C, or D?” One of our editors gets the ms reviewed, just as any journal editor would. The editorial decision is then a decision about which of the four journals you listed, if any, would be a good match for the ms. Assuming at least one is a good match in our view, we then simply forward the ms and the reviews to that journal, along with a cover letter that simply states who we are and gives our editorial opinion that the ms would be a good fit for the journal. The journal then is free to do what they like (accept the ms based on Axios reviews, go get additional reviews but also consider the Axios reviews, ignore the Axios reviews entirely…) Authors pay only if the ms is accepted, and the fee is intended to be just large enough for the founder and managing editor (Tim Vines) to cover his costs.

  2. Did you know that the funding rates of NSF Graduate Fellowships are about 50%!?

    Blah, too bad I have never been eligible for them because of the stupid way that the NSF counts previous grad experience for people who have taken classes part-time.

    The article on poor students at rich universities was a good read, thanks. It’s particularly interesting for me since I TA for that exact population. I am glad that my university has a couple of programs to support low-income students.

    The “45.6% with families making over 200K” number for Harvard prompted me to look up numbers for MIT (my undergrad alma mater). In 2010-2011, 62.8% of MIT undergrads were from under-200K families AND applied for MIT financial aid (I figure a few might have had full outside scholarships or something), meaning that at most 37.2% were from 200K+ families, which is still a lot. Around 30% are from under-75K families, 20% are Pell Grant recipients.

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