Things I wish other people blogged about

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I make a point to post at least once a week. Sometimes the blog posts are full essays, sometimes they’re just a less ordered collection of thoughts, such as this one.

One of the reasons I helped start Rapid Ecology is that I wanted to see a much broader range of voices in this medium. I think it’s great to get a casual perspective from people other than you, and I think in his field, we need more voices. So, I’m thrilled that it’s taken off so well.

I write about a range of issues here, but there are also a lot of things that I choose to not write about here, because it’s not a fit for the site or because it’s not a fit for my own experience. But there are so many things that I’d love to see other people share. For example: Continue reading

Sizing up competing peer review models

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Is peer review broken? No, it’s not. The “stuff is broken” is overused so much that it now just sounds like hyperbole.

Can we improve peer review? Yes. The review process takes longer than some people like. And yes, editors can have a hard time finding reviewers. And there are conflicts of interest and bias baked into the process. So, yes, we can make peer review better.

As a scientific community, we don’t even agree on a single model of peer review. Some journals are doing it differently than others. I’ll briefly describe some peer review models, and then I’ll give you my take. Continue reading

Recommended reads #124

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Why I stopped writing on my student’s papers.

Four very practical solutions to make conferences less difficult for scientists who are bringing babies and small children, brought to you by Rebecca Calisi and a Working Group of Mothers in Science. Are you part of an organizing committee? Please heed.

The case for inclusive teaching

The blog The Novice Professor has a lot of great stuff, it’s definitely one to watch. And the author routinely shares great stuff about learning and teaching on twitter. Continue reading

Powerful truths about sexual harassment

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Today, the House Committee on Science had a hearing about sexual harassment. The whole thing is worth your time, but holy moly there were two moments in particular, 6 minutes of your time, that I feel compelled to share:

First, Dr. Kate Clancy delivered testimony on what sexual harassment is, and how deep and pervasive the problem is, and how our academic culture allows it to persist. The entire testimony is filled with mic-drops and moments of searing truth, I can’t even pick a few pull-quotes because the whole thing is golden:

 

Continue reading

When you are asked to review a paper that you’ve already reviewed for another journal

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This situation can be a bit of a conundrum if you haven’t dealt with it.

Let’s say you review a manuscript for the Journal of Scientific Stuff. Ultimately, that paper ends up getting rejected by JSS. Some time goes past, and you are asked to review what appears to be the same manuscript, by the editor of Proceedings of Scientific Stuff.

What to do? Continue reading

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 Continue reading

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

Skype A Scientist (Skype a Classroom!)

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It is time to sign up for skypeascientist. This is a program connecting scientists with classrooms. It gives students and teachers a chance to talk to real living scientists and scientists a chance to chat with students. This fall I met with a class in England and hope to be matched again.

If you are curious how this works here are some thoughts on my experience: 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