Recommended reads #122

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This is wonderful: NSF is now requiring awardee institutions to report findings of sexual harassment by personnel on NSF grants, and to report when individuals are placed on leave related to an investigation. And they are prepared to take serious measures in response. Here’s the NSF statement, and related stories published by Nature and The New Republic. (How bout rounding up a few PIs and your Title IX coordinator, and schedule a meeting with the person in charge of post-award at your university, to make specific plans for implementing this, including the reporting mechanisms and training that NSF expects.)

In favor of “slow teaching.”

Intellectual property law 101 for academics

Hell yes: ” If universities took up this challenge to think of themselves as producers of value, not arbiters of merit, universities could do much more to support marginalized students in applying to college.”

“STEM universities aren’t doing enough to make students feel welcome and close racial gaps, students and experts say”

Where being an environmentalist and being a climate hawk are in conflict

A science writer describes the steps he took to make the sources in his articles better represent the scientific community: “We don’t contact the usual suspects because we’ve made some objective assessment of their worth, but because they were the easiest people to contact. We knew their names. They topped a Google search. Other journalists had contacted them. They had reputations, but they accrued those reputations in a world where women are systematically disadvantaged compared to men.”

PLOS Biology says they’re happy to consider your manuscript after someone else has scooped you.

An editorial in Scientific American is calling for universities to take measures to encourage scientists to speak up about issues that matter to society.

Conserving honey bees does not help wildlife

Not only do entomologists fail to voucher specimens from published research, they often don’t even bother to explain how or who did their identifications. This is a real problem.

According to this piece, in this movie Lady Bird, academic cheating is not posed as an ethical dilemma in the movie, but rather a straightforward means to an end. (Or is it just not a loop in the story that intentionally remains unclosed? I dunno, I haven’t seen it yet.)

The cost of performing service work in academia

Nick Haddad wrote a beautiful piece, “Resurrection and resilience of the rarest butterflies.

Nigel, the world’s loneliest bird, dies next to the concrete decoy he loved

Christian Ott, who harassed his own grad students at the CalTech, lands a research position at the University of Turku, in Finland. Within a week after he announcement, he loses that job, as the university responds to the outrage of the Finnish astronomy community. Speaking out can work.

In New Orleans, 46 tons of beads were pulled out of the street drainage system.

How to not die in America

When the trash gets passed

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The term “passing the trash” is commonly used to describe when sexually abusive K-12 teachers and priests get quietly shifted to new schools and parishes, where they assault more people.

We also use this term in higher ed, when professors who commit sexual misconduct are allowed to slink out of their universities with the approving silence of their administration, only to harm more students in their new jobs. Continue reading

If you love teaching, a research university might be perfect for you

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“I like teaching, and I didn’t want the same stress-packed life as the professors in my PhD program, so a faculty position at a teaching-focused university is a good fit for me.”

I’ve heard something like this more times than I can possibly count from grad students, postdocs, and professors. It’s something that I used to say myself. But now I think this statement is built on two big fallacies. Continue reading

Small Pond Science’s Greatest Hits of 2017

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Happy Christmas! I hope you’re having a pleasant break.

This is the 90th post of 2017. It’s been a horrible year for scientists and academics based out of the US, and for democracy in general. But Small Pond Science continues to grow. Here’s a look at the Top 5 posts of 2017. And also 5 more posts that we’re proud of, that didn’t make it into the Top 5. Continue reading

Academia selects against community ties

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Academics tend to harbor a conceit that our job is really different from other jobs.

This might not be as true as folks like to believe, though we have flexibility and freedom to do almost whatever we want. Another thing that makes us really different from most people is that we move around a lot. Most of us are close to or well past 30 before we move to the city where we’ll set down some serious roots. And, there’s a decent chance that we’ll move again.

I think one consequence of academics being so mobile is selection against involvement in the local community. Continue reading

On the need for public academic blogs

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Anybody can set up a blog and write a post, yet the reach of these posts varies dramatically.

Let’s say you have an interesting or important idea for fellow ecologists. For example, you want to report on a great symposium, or just read a really cool paper with a big idea and want to discuss those further. Or you want to review a book, or share safety tips for fieldwork, or write more broadly about a new paper of your own. Or perhaps a response to an absolutely horrid op-ed piece that you read in the Washington Post last week. You’re not going to write these in a peer-reviewed journal, but what would you do?

At the moment your options are:

  1. Post an email to ecolog-l
  2. Write on social media
  3. Write a post on your personal site
  4. Be friends with someone who runs a blog
  5. Do nothing

I think there’s a missing option, and I’d like to fix this. Continue reading

Recommended reads #117

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When reviewers know the identity of authors, it turns out that famous names, prestigious universities, and top companies are far more likely to have their papers accepted. This effect was measured in an experiment, and it’s astounding. This is the new paper I will point folks to when they say that single blind or “open” review is more fair. It just isn’t.

A profile of the few people remaining in the US who depend on iron lungs to stay alive, a window into the history of manufacturing, medicine, and our failed social safety net.

By Scientists For Science — The Scientific Society Publisher Alliance. Scientific societies are designed to represent the interests of our own communities, and this new organization is designed to promote society journals. Continue reading