If you’ve known me for a good long while, then you would know I’m not a morning person.
It is stunning to learn that so many people think that we are paid to be sources for journalists. [update: I misread this. The piece reports that a majority of people think that sources pay journalists to be included in their stories. Which is perhaps even more outrageous?]
The entire point of this post is in the title. This idea crossed my path yesterday, and I’d like to share it as widely as possible:
Let’s talk about “fit.” They say you get a faculty job offer because of “fit.” What does “fit” mean? In what ways do job candidates need to fit? How does “fit” work?
I started this blog back in 201cough because I was fed up with so many people in the broader research community not understanding what happens in teaching-focused universities. And people who think they have an understanding, but that understanding is filled with stereotypes, bias, and misinformation, driven by a lack of direct personal experience.
I was fed up with being Othered, mostly because of how this translates to the perception of our students.
I just read this piece in Science yesterday and I was floored.
Among my peeves is when people say that science is not a liberal art. (Like this former president of Missouri State just did.) Science is a liberal art. Period.
This is not a purely academic exercise to establish that science is a liberal art. This really matters.
I was chatting with colleagues about the mechanics of handing back papers to students. How do you do this?
As a class gets bigger, the more time it takes to return assignments and exams back to students. And at some point, you hit a threshold where it’s just impracticable.
This is an issue that some people are handling very poorly, and others are struggling to handle well.
For all the concern about pipeline problems, we seem to be fond of creating bottlenecks that filter out the people we’re trying to recruit. Let’s take a quick look at how people get into grad school in my field.
To my knowledge, in most other fields, prospective graduate students apply to graduate programs. And then the selection process happens from there. I don’t have much direct experience with these programs, obviously, because it’s not my field.
But in ecology/evolution and allied fields, it happens bassackwards.
We did a thing that worked. Maybe you could try it. It’s something that I’ve suggested before, but now some results are in and I’m sharing it with you.
If you’re looking to recruit more undergraduates to your campus for summer research opportunities (and more), listen up.
You know how when drug developers are doing a clinical trial, but they stop the trial early because the results are so promising, that they are ethically bound to give the treatment to everybody in the control group? That’s how I feel about what I’m telling you today.
Applying for faculty jobs and don’t know what an institution means when they’re asking for you to “demonstrate interest and ability to advance diversity, equity and inclusion?” Apparently enough people asked UC Berkeley, so they decided to spell it out.
This Small Pond is approaching carrying capacity.
We still have generations of academics who are still in denial about how social media has changed how we are accountable for our actions.
This is going to be a quick or poorly edited post because it is extremely late, as I just uploaded the final bits of an NSF proposal that is due today.
Wait, did that make any sense to you? Our federal government is shut down. NSF is shut down. Nearly all NSF employees are furloughed, and are not allowed to work even if they wanted to, in the span of their newly copious free time.
But I still submitted my proposal?! The online submission portal is running swimmingly! These exclamation points are not joy, but are the surprise of consternation!
“Lessons from a postdoc gone wrong” makes sense in other domains as well.
Are you preparing for the new semester? Are you sitting in the position of academic freedom guaranteed by tenure?
Here’s what you might consider to be a radical suggestion, though it’s fully reasonable: Ditch exams this semester.
That’s right. Just don’t have exams. Assign grades using other methods.
Student evaluations are here to stay. And that’s the way it should be. I think universities owe it to students to provide a structured opportunity to provide feedback on classroom experiences. It’s not a matter of “customer service,” but instead, of respecting students and hearing what they have to say. But the way evaluations are typically structured, they facilitate inappropriate application and interpretation, and they don’t ask what we should be asking.
Collectively, as a scientific community, we have so many blind spots. I remember running into one of these blind spots about 15 years ago.
That was a restful two weeks. Now, back to business.
Why do scientists reinvent wheels? (I think in ecology, a lot of concepts have a periodicity of about 30 years. And usually when an idea resurfaces, it’s not done with adequate awareness of the older literature.)
I can’t say that 2018 has been a good year, but it has been a good one for Small Pond Science. Here’s a list of the most-viewed posts written in 2018:
In a couple days, I’ll start winding down for the holidays. I hope you have a restful break.
If you search up the phrase “power of small teams,” you’ll find lots of conventional wisdom.
I just would like to say, to all of that conventional wisdom: Yeah. Right on. Yup. And there apparently is a substantial body of academic research on the matter, too.
Last week, I got a request for some advice, and thought I’d share a version of my answer with y’all here.
I recently read through some of early posts on here. I’ve been at this for over five years now, and I’ve evolved over that time. (As I hope all people evolve!) I’ve learned quite a bit, and I do things differently in a variety of ways.
One of the things I’ve noticed is that I have steadily shifted a lot of the terminology that I’ve been using for topics in the practice of science, and teaching, and higher education.
The pipeline metaphor has a lot of problems. In STEM careers, people come from a wide range of backgrounds, receive undergraduate and graduate degrees, and are bound for a wide variety of destinations. A path into a STEM career shouldn’t have to be linear, so a pipeline doesn’t make much sense.
However, I get why people like to use the pipeline metaphor.
When I was a postdoc and looking for faculty jobs, I harbored a common misconception about faculty jobs. Even though my mentor definitely schooled me well in advance, it took multiple years on the job for me to get a clue.
I was at a conference this week, and chatted with a lot of folks about career stuff. The misconception that I used to have kept coming up repeatedly from others, so I’d just like to douse it here in the open with a wet blanket.