Gender inequity at every step of publishing

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I sat down to my laptop this morning and was looking forward to getting to work. But then I looked at the news.

And I saw this:

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) came out with a report last week about biases against women in the publication process. The highlights — or rather, the lowlights — are in the story in Nature about this report. It’s a one-minute read, please read it. Continue reading

Retooling at mid-career

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At mid-career, a lot of the research techniques and approaches that people in use today today didn’t exist when we were in grad school.

When I started my own lab around the turn of the century, we didn’t have R but there was S, microsatellites were a cutting edge technology replacing allozymes, the browser we used was Netscape Navigator, GPS units couldn’t get a read through a dense forest canopy, phones were only used for calling people, the number of genomes we had sequenced was around zero, and Transcriptomics might have been a ska band.

This post tells you about a couple routes for funding to retool.

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Academic advising by tenure-track faculty

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Based on some recent conversations, I’m realizing that an underappreciated piece of professoring is academic advising. I don’t think I’ve written about it on here yet (?), but a substantial piece of work by faculty in our department is advising our majors. Just like the unseen labor of writing recommendation letters, doing quality academic advising is very important but how much and how well we do this (or not) generally gets overlooked.

If you’re at a small liberal arts college or a smaller regional state university, then you probably are doing a lot of advising. Continue reading

Look in your own backyard

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Metaphorically, that is.

What can you do to increase the representation of minoritized people in your department and in your lab?

Well, the big answer to the question is that anything worthwhile takes work. This is not just worthwhile, it’s important. So, it will require effort on your part. And it means challenging yourself to learn new things, and instead of just adopting new practices, but are open to a new mindset, which means aligning your actions with your values. That’s hard work.

But do you want an easy win? Do you want a practical piece of advice, about something you can do that will work? Continue reading

Recommended reads #159

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Hitman 2’s new game lets you quit being an assassin and become an ornithologist: “Here’s how it works: After using your trusty piano wire to kill an ornithologist and swap into his cargo shorts and binoculars, all you have to do is press X to toss aside your silenced pistol, point out the nest of a plum-throated cotinga to your research assistant, and embark on a full-fledged research career in the King’s College Avian Biology Department.”

Color me surprised. A new study claims that in laboratory-oriented fields, mentoring from postdocs is impactful for PhD students, but not for mentoring from the PI. And that PI tend to ignore established best practices for mentoring, and just go from the hip based on their own prior personal experiences. (As a disclaimer, I haven’t actually read this article, by the way, just saying what the abstract and folks have been saying. Since it’s in a fancy journal, be primed to expect big claims that may or may not be appropriately generalized from the actual findings.)

Working from affirmation, not for affirmation. Continue reading

Be careful with human examples when teaching animal behavior

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You may or may not have heard of this weekend’s debacle from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (They promoted a paper using images of women appearing to have an orgasm. Though the paper was an ovulation experiment in rabbits. Do they have any women involved in the social media process over there? Yikes.)  I hold the new EIC in high regard, and I imagine she’ll get to the bottom of this. But it reminds me of a thing I’ve been meaning to address here for a while.

I suspect a lot of us are teaching animal behavior and behavioral ecology very badly, whenever it comes to our own species. Continue reading

Reviewing manuscripts as an early career scientist

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I find this weird, but apparently, some journals in some academic fields don’t allow grad students or postdocs to serve as peer reviewers. I do get the idea that professional experience and expertise should be required to conduct a peer review. They’re called “peer” reviews for a reason.

Then, the question is: are early career scientists our peers? Continue reading

Do R1s or PUIs have higher research expectations?

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Well, of course, major research institutions (R1s) expect more research to come out of their labs than primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs). But, after you take into account the circumstances of each kind of position, who experiences a higher relative demand for research productivity? At which kind of institution is it harder to meet the scholarship criteria for tenure?

Well, let’s compare various factors related to research productivity at these kinds of institutions*.

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Recommended reads #158

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A very nice paper on efficient teaching, showing how small tweaks can result in big educational gains.

“Dr. Kathryn Milligan-Myhre works in the field of host-microbe interactions. In this mSphere of Influence article, she reflects on the people and scientific ideas that influenced her journey from a small town in Alaska to a faculty position at the University of Alaska Anchorage.”

If you are, like me, someone who studies things that are not humans and you’re interested in studying humans, you absolutely need to talk to people who do that for a living.” Continue reading

On unearned authorship by advisors of graduate students

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Authorship is weird.  As an instrument to attribute of credit, it’s far too coarse whenever the number of authors is greater than one.

Authorship is a slippery concept, because you can’t really define what constitutes a substantial contribution, in a way that can apply generally. Continue reading

Play The Game, or Change The Rules?

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I feel a dilemma — or rather, a tradeoff — when I think about investing time, money, and effort into supporting undergraduates to gain admission to graduate programs.

On one hand, we all know that the system is rigged, such that students who come from whiter and wealthier backgrounds have a huge leg up. Continue reading

EEB Mentor Match 2019

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This is the announcement of EEB Mentor Match for 2019!

We are pairing up students applying for graduate school and graduate fellowships with more experienced academics who have been through the process. If you’re an undergraduate or recent graduate who feels that you could benefit from more support, this is for you! Continue reading

Recommended reads #156

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An open letter about sexual harassment and retaliation at UC Irvine.

Among the many layers of horrible events In These United States, the dismantling of the USDA, via translocating the agency to Kansas City (though where in Kansas City, they have no idea), is not getting much attention. Here’s a recent update on this from the Washington Post.

A big meta analysis is showing that, as the ocean warms, fisheries decline. Every degree celsius corresponds to a 5% loss in biomass. Continue reading

How much should student registration cost at conferences?

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Let’s say you’re a grad student heading off to the annual 5-day conference in your field. You’re giving a poster, you are scheduled to have coffee with a person whose work you admire, you’ll be seeing a some old friends, and you’re there to learn about the newest work in your field.

Then, you get contacted by the people who run the conference. They’re wondering if you want to work — during the conference — at a rate of $14 per hour. Continue reading

Massive editorial failures harm authors and readers

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Have you heard of the newly published misogynist paper in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine? Here’s the start of the abstract:

It is unknown whether female physicians can perform equivalently to male physicians with respect to emergency procedures. Endotracheal intubation is one of the most critical procedures performed in the emergency department (ED). We hypothesized that female physicians are not inferior to male physicians in first-pass success rate for this endotracheal intubation.

There has been much outrage. But hold on. This might not be what it might look like.
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Recommended reads #154

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53 essential tech-bro terms explained (It’s like the Devil’s Dictionary)

Computer-based and bench-based research [in course-based research projects] produce similar attitudinal outcomes

In ecology and zoology, the number of women authors on papers with male senior authors is shockingly low. I mean, yeah, you’d expect an effect of gender, but, I mean, wow, this is worse than I would have imagined:

journal.pone.0218598.g002

Figure from Salerno et al. 2019, comparing proportion of women authors in papers with male or female senior authors

Pay the USWNT a bounty Continue reading

Being a professor is too many jobs, perhaps?

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Some while ago, a colleague mentioned how his job as a professor was a “triple position.” Teaching well is a full time job. Doing research well is a full time job. And the service that we do, if done well, can or should be a full time job. We professors have three jobs rolled into one salary (and a 9-month one at that)!

This has been a lot of food for thought. I’ve come to realize that for nearly everything I do for the university on part-time basis, there are people who do that work on a full-time basis with a higher degree of specialization. Continue reading

Recommended reads #152

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A wave of graduate programs drops the GRE application requirement, with biology programs leading the way.

Can you really do humanities research with undergraduates?

Taiwan considers going double blind for grant review

“If you’ve ever been at a wedding or conference or on board a United connection from O’Hare, and been cornered by a man with Theories About It All, and you came away thinking, ‘That was a great experience,’ have I got the book for you.” So begins what I think is a generally Important Review of the most recent Jared Diamond book. It’s important, for the broader academic community, because it puts stark light on the absence of fact checking of popular academic nonfiction. It’s also an entertaining review to read, unless you’re uncomfortable with scrutiny of the more specious ideas forwarded by Jared Diamond. Continue reading