You might not have noticed, but near the end of last year, at the end of one of the recommended reads, I mentioned I was starting an informal experiment, to not run comments on the site. Here’s a very informal report on this very informal experiment.
There’s a remark that I see once a while in reviews, something along the lines of: “The authors should have their work edited by a native English speaker.”
Please stop staying this. I think it’s a problem, for three reasons:
How do undergraduate students wind up in labs doing research? What’s the best way to identify students to bring into the lab?
Women so often are asked: “How do you juggle family, career, and everything else?” But men are rarely asked about balancing family and career, with the implicit assumption that they aren’t spending substantial time or effort on family affairs. I think this doesn’t represent the actual state of affairs in many households, though it is still true that the average guy doesn’t do his fair share of parenting and household work.
Women-in-science who are parents are typically cast as moms by public and professional eyes, while men-in-science who are parents are not cast as dads. This sets up unrealistic and unfair expectations.
Faculty job application season is building. If you’re applying for jobs, how much time are you going to invest into the process, and how many applications will you be sending out?
I’m back from vacation! Anyhoo, a funny thing happens to me every summer.
Campus has an eerie quiet. There are plenty of people around, but compared to the academic year, there are relatively few students. So if I’m walking from the parking lot, or buying lunch in the union because I was lazy, I might bump into someone. Because I serve on a semiplethora of committees, I know folks in lots of roles on campus.
There’s a pretty good chance they’ll ask me: “What are you doing here? Are you teaching a summer course?”
I celebrated my 46th birthday last week by going snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. It was bittersweet. I’ve been trying to process the experience, and I think I’ve found a measure of peace, but little comfort.
I want to share a quick story about something slightly stupid that I did some years ago, while teaching.
This week, the National Academy of Sciences released a report on gender harassment and sexual misconduct in our profession. There are a number of findings that might surprise you. Here are selected reads related to this report.
I don’t have a post for you today. Instead, please read some of the stories at MeTooSTEM.
It’s important for us all to understand the prevalence, mechanisms, and consequences of sexual harassment in our profession. Let’s hear about it directly from those who have been impacted.
I’m in the field right now. Which means that I’m among many fellow academics, from a wide range of institutions, because we’re working out of La Selva Biological Station to do a short project. At the moment are faculty and grad students from a range of Latin American universities, and USian institutions including a regional state university, small liberal arts college, tribal college, HBCU, military academy, state research university, and some researchers from other kinds of organizations. Many of these folks are old friends, so being here is a great pleasure.
We’re here to run experiments to answer some specific research questions, but just as important, we’re here for the academic training of undergraduates. The two goals are quite complementary. You would think that what the students are getting is research training. They are getting that, but they’re also getting another kind of training: an introduction to the culture, conventions, and social mores of becoming an academic scientist.
This is a spectacular and moving essay: Our Houses Became Boats: Surviving Hurricane Maria and salvaging my career in its aftermath
I’m back down at the field station in Costa Rica (missing my family quite a bit) and I had a very minor realization while having dinner among my students. It’s definitely a cliché of sorts, but I realized that the t-shirt I was wearing was older than some of my students.
I know this because the t-shirt had a specific date on it
Apparently, there are some editors of academic journals who will readily send manuscripts out to “non-preferred reviewers” — the specific people that authors specify who they don’t want to receive the paper for review.
I think this is all kinds of messed up.
One hundred twenty nine. I’ve been doing this, every other week, for a while now.
I’ve noticed that junior scientists tend to be really picky about conflicts of interest, whereas senior scientists don’t tend to be sticklers.
Once in a while, I look at the statistics for this site and I get to see some of the search terms that folks use to arrive here. Sometimes these are questions that may have gone unanswered. So, here are some of these queries, and my replies. (I’ve done this plenty before by the way, though it’s been a while.) For each search term, I provide a response. (The title, by the way, is an homage to MAD’s “snappy answers to stupid questions.”
how to destroy a bad graduate advisor
Tell them you’re planning to become a sales rep after you finish your dissertation.
how to get out of academic dishonesty
I guess you should lie?
(image: first Matilija poppy of the season)
Early luck in grant funding has massive long-term effects on future funding (and here’s the original paper)
This is shameful to the extreme: How the University of Minnesota hides its professors’ sexual harassment
Some while ago, I wrote about experiences serving on NSF panels, just to demystify the experience for folks who haven’t been on panels. I received feedback that this was helpful, so I thought I’d turn some focus on one aspect of review that I think merits additional attention.
In science, we’re used to suboptimal methods — because of limited time, resources, or technology. But one of our biggest methodological shortcomings can be fixed as soon as we summon the common will. The time is overdue for us to abolish 5% as a uniform and arbitrarily selected probability threshold for hypothesis testing.
I’ve learned a lot from listening to scientists on twitter, including grad students and undergrads. One thing I’ve picked up is that we need to actively fight against the reimbursement culture of academia.
If your teaching is at least modestly informed by the scholarship of teaching and learning (and, I dare suggest, it should be), then you are probably aware that frequent assessments are a good thing. Students learn better when they have more opportunities to find out if they’re learning what is being taught.
But — as Meg Duffy pointed out last week — some teaching practices are effective but may not be sustainable because they might just require so much work from professors. This resonated with a lot of people. A lot of us apparently feel a genuine tradeoff between our capacity to teach effectively and the amount of time that we are expected to invest into teaching each of our courses.
I realize that recruiting students from underrepresented groups in STEM is not the most popular broader impact when scientists are actually implementing federally funded research projects. That said, I see a lot of folks putting so much time and effort to recruit minority students. And folks working to provide opportunities to minority students.
Do you love it when students waste office hours with questions that don’t help them learn? Do you want to cultivate anxious emails from students sent at 3 in the morning? Do you want your students to wager their grades by guessing what you think is the most important material?
Then don’t tell your students what is going to be on the exam.
Before condemning a job application to the recycle bin for want of a great letter from the dissertation advisor, please take a moment to consider: perhaps it’s the advisor who is the problem?
On a Friday in mid-March, a student in my department was notified that they were just accepted into an NSF-funded REU program. (For more about REUs, here’s an earlier post.) It’s program with a fair amount of prestige, but definitely not in the highest tier among the folks who keep track of status. Which is everybody, of course.
They were told they needed to accept or decline by Monday.