Recommended reads #44


If you haven’t read it yet, Terry Wheeler’s post, “20 Years in the Professor Game: things I did right and things I did wrong.” is just so great. (I’ve been playing the game for just fifteen, but found that this really spoke to me and reflected the same things I’ve screwed up and the same things I’ve done right.) This post got a lot of attention after it came out, and rightfully so.

Piotr Naskrecki made a top-notch super-duper high quality video about the biology of human bot flies, filming the critters that he was reared out. This is the link to share with someone when you need to explain bot flies. (Of course, just because you tell students what to do with a bot fly when they get one, doesn’t mean that the’ll follow your advice.)

In public colleges, student tuition now contributes more than state funding.

Who are scientists? When we try to differentiate ourselves from those who aren’t scientists, we need to be honest and inclusive about all the different places, organizations and people that are doing good science. This is a great piece by Alex Bond.

The Royal Society drafted up a document to tell universities and PIs about how PhD students need to hear about career options while they are in grad school.

Here is a delicious and spot-on rant by Auriel Fournier: “‘At least they don’t seal the fire exits,’ Or why unpaid internships are BS.”

There was a nice article in Nature about the history of how R has evolved to become a standard statistical platform in some fields. It’s really an interesting story.

First day of class activities that promote a climate of learning.

American Naturalist has just gone double-blind! Now reviewers have to pretend that they don’t know which lab group produced the article that they’re reviewing.

Speaking while female. It’s important that men read this piece. Especially those who don’t typically care about these issues. If it helps, one of the two authors is named Adam.

California condors that have been introduced into the wild don’t get much privacy from the researchers constantly keeping tabs on them. Except, apparently, for this pair of birds that had a baby and raised it for nine months without any notice.

The Royal British Columbia Museum might not be hiring a new curator for their mighty nice and important entomology collection. Let’s hope they maintain this position, and give them some encouragement.

Buy some nice, and quite reasonably priced, paintings that were made by ants. And this is how they were made.

Are Black Colleges Boosting Minority Representation in the Sciences? This article in The Atlantic explains how under-resourced and under appreciated campuses are pulling the heavy weight in training the next generation of scientists. And they’re doing it by being collaborative.

This article in The Economist explains how World War II changed the field of statistics, and how statistics changed the war. Fascinating.

Here is a blog post that claims to have a list of the best research articles about the science of teaching and learning. I’m not in a position to decide whether that’s true.

A fun post by Meg Duffy about teaching ecology with Pablo Escobar’s hippos. And a nice illustration about how our lessons are taste the best when seasoned with current events.

Andrew Hendry wrote a great How To Do Statistics post. It’s full of all of the good opinions, at least in my book.

Maya Lin — who is famous for designing the breathstopping memorial to the Vietnam War in Washington, DC — has designed a memorial for all of the organisms that we have lost. What is missing.

Here’s an informative and example-laden post about how Undergraduate Journals Are a Good Thing. I’m not sure I agree, but this is still interesting reading. (I have a long list of posts that I haven’t yet written, and one of those is about how I think undergraduate journals might not be doing much good at all, or that the not-good outweighs the good.)

You know bar charts. You know box plots. Do you know violin plots?

What are the new frontiers in Animal Behavior? Here’s what an NSF-supported workshop thinks.

What it’s like to be an adult college student with ADHD.

Buzzfeed Science goes entomophobic. Having serious journalists at the masthead clearly doesn’t keep them from publishing muck.

Take a stand against abusive advising.

Academia has too many frickin’ mixers.

What’s the new low price of gasoline in the US? About 25 fatalities per day.

Posting a preprint before a paper is in press puts you at risk for being scooped.

The Myth of Learning Styles.

PLOS apparently is asking authors to provide personal bank statements in order to get consideration for a fee waiver. Since this blog post came out, PLOS said on twitter that they don’t ask for personal bank statements. But here’s the thing: they did. So who are we to believe, PLOS’s twitter account or the quotes in the blog post? I’ll take the latter. They didn’t seem to offer any subsequent explanation or apology. The lesson is: don’t submit to PLOS if you can’t afford the pricey page charges, unless you don’t mind sharing your bank statements with them.

Siobhan O’Dwyer explains how our academic work is treated like a mass-produced trinket, but it’s really a hand-crafted artisanal product.

Academic assholes and the circle of niceness.

Jeff Ollerton asks and answers, “What do academics do once the research is published?” He points out that a third of all biology papers are never cited, and explains what we should be doing to fix that.

The American Museum of Natural History has started a video series called Shelf Life that takes us into their collections. It looks promising.

“Although scientists of all ethnicities reported losing interest in faculty careers as their doctoral studies continued, women’s loss of interest was more pronounced, particularly for underrepresented minorities.”

For some links, thanks to Marielle Anzelone, Kate Clancy, and Matt MacManes.

6 thoughts on “Recommended reads #44

  1. Thanks for the shout-out Terry. On a subject related to unpaid internships, a story has recently broken here in Northampton about our student nurses who are doing unpaid voluntary work at the local hospital and have been asked to pay £10 per DAY for car parking for the privilege!

    The original charge was bad enough – £1 per day – but when it was raised and the students refused to pay, they’ve now been threatened with legal action. Unbelievable the way we are treating our students at all levels. Here’s a couple of links to the story:

  2. Though I appreciate the intention, I find the title of Maya Lin’s memorial, “What is missing?” utterly ironic. Named are mammals, amphibians, birds, and freshwater fishes. Missing from the list are all plants, and invertebrates of all kinds, which constitute a whopping 95% of animal species on Earth.

  3. I was an editor for Behavioral Ecology, one of the first journals to institute double-blind review, for a number of years. People always said that “of course” they could guess the identity of the lab or the authors for a ms, but often they were wrong. It seems to me that it can do nothing but good; if you do guess, then you’re back to where you were before, and in any case, it at least makes reviewers think about the possibility of bias. A paper in TREE a while back found that the system resulted in a higher number of female first-authored papers, if I recall correctly.

  4. I was being overly sarcastic about the double blind review thing. I think it’s good, just a slight annoyance and bit of extra work on part of authors, but that’s not a bad thing by any means. I really appreciate this comment, and now want to fish out that TREE piece.
    [on edit: it’s in the links two weeks from now.]

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