CVs and Faculty Searches

October 31, 2007

Young Female Scientist has another interesting post up, one concerning the use of CVs in the evaluation of applicants for academic PI positions. Her basic point is that an applicant’s publication record is, at best, an incomplete basis for predicting future success as a PI and, at worst, a misleading basis.

This is absolutely correct. But let’s unpack this conclusion, as I think it will be informative for trainees to get a better sense of what search committees think as they look at CVs and publication records.

Read the rest of this entry »

Manuscripts and Mentors

October 30, 2007

Post-doc Young Female Scientist has an interesting new post up about her efforts to get a manuscript published, and the role of her mentor in this process. She writes:

Submitted paper with overly grandiose claims to a journal where it wouldn’t get in, based on overly optimistic advice of well-meaning PI.

Predictably, paper did not get in.

In terms of where to submit a paper, it is almost always best to first submit to a journal that seems like a “stretch”. There are a number of reasons for this. Read the rest of this entry »

The Hypomotivated Trainee

October 28, 2007

We have been asked by an interested reader to address the topic of “The Hypomotivated Trainee”. Here are my thoughts, from the perspective of the PI.

As a preliminary matter, it is key to recognize that motivation is not just a matter of quantity, but also quality. Post-doctoral and graduate trainees are not only different in how much they are motivated, but also in the nature of their motivations. Read the rest of this entry »

Okay, in my first post on this Watson affair, I was thinking, why pile on this senile old goat for his racist beliefs about the intelligence of an entire continent of people? Do some good locally was my thought. ‘Course I couldn’t help sneaking in another oblique one (Hey, at least it had some science in it!). However a recent comment on Zuska’s post brings me up short: Read the rest of this entry »

Manly? or Self-Sufficient?

October 24, 2007

Are you chock full of Manly Man type skills? Or are you merely Self-Sufficient? Chad of Uncertain Principles posts the meme and says:

…so here’s the proposed game:

Go through both lists, and determine how many of the listed skills you can claim. Compare the fractions to see if you’re more of a ManlyMan or a Self-Sufficient Adult.

Read the rest of this entry »

SfN07: The Wild Fires

October 23, 2007

I should have expected this. The search engine hits for various combinations of “San Diego”, “Fire”, “SFN”, “Society for Neuroscience” are starting to hit the blog. There does not appear to be anything posted at the official SfN 2007 website so I’ll try to relate anything I know that’s relevant to the meeting here. I imagine things will be changing rapidly in these early days of the fires. Read the rest of this entry »


October 22, 2007

We’re on fire again in San Diego County. I won’t bother with the links, you can find them anywhere. We went through this in fall of 2003 with the Cedar fire, same thing really. In fall we get “Santa Ana” conditions where the winds whip up in the desert, roar west through the mountains and create hot and dry climate for a few days or a week. If we get a random campfire escape, tossed ciggie, sparks from a draggin’ muffler (really!) or powerline downing…conflagration. Read the rest of this entry »

The Nine Types of PI

October 21, 2007

See Effect Measure (or revere’s source) for a cartoon on the 9 types of PI. (The original source is apparently “The NIH Catalyst” vol 3, p23, links to the archive for this publication appear to be broken.”) [Minor Update: The comic was republished in Science , as was the same artists “Nine Types of Postdocs“.]

Which type of PI are you?

Fascinating data on SfN meeting participation from 2001-2006 is available as a paper placed on arXiv.

An analysis of the abstracts presented at the annual meetings of the Society for Neuroscience from 2001 to 2006

Authors: J. M. Lin, J. W. Bohland, P. Andrews, G. Burns, C. B. Allen, P. P. Mitra

I will always have to reference this as the place I picked up the concept that “we need to practice scientific birth control” in discussion of uninterrupted growth in the neuroscience community.

Other tidbits:

  • 60% of abstract authors only attend a single meeting in the surveyed interval.
  • average of 4.3 authors per abstract
  • La Jolla is in the top ten in each year- Represent!
  • no correlation between SfN attendance and NIH budget
  • six degrees (actually 6.09) of separation confirmed for neuroscientists
  • NIH ICs generally get what they pay for

A reader dropped the blog an email note which, among other things, was interested in a discussion of the concept of “least publishable unit”or LPU.

Apparently this concept is popular enough that Wikipedia has an entry on the “LPU“:

In academic publishing, the least publishable unit (LPU) is the smallest amount of information that can generate a publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The term is often used as a joking, ironic, or sometimes derogatory reference to the strategy of pursuing the greatest quantity of publications at the expense of their quality. … There is no consensus among academics about whether people should seek to make their publications least publishable units.

Read the rest of this entry »

An Observer piece by Wray Herbert summarizes a recent article in Psychological Science:

Black volunteers who had witnessed unfair but ambiguous hiring decisions performed more poorly on the Stroop test, suggesting that they were using all their mental resources to make sense of the unfairness.

[Blacks]…have developed coping strategies for the most hateful kinds of racism; it’s the constant, vague, just-below-the-surface acts of racism that impair performance, day in and day out.

Salvatore and Shelton 2007 Psychological Science, 2007 Sep;18(9):810-5.


Figure 1 shows Stroop interference as a function of the “prejudice condition” which was manipulated by statements of a purported Human Resources  manager regarding hiring of candidates.

In the ambiguous-prejudice condition, the officer’s comments were neutral with regard to race (e.g., ‘‘good GPA but not business or econ’’), so the reasons for his hiring recommendations were unclear. In the blatant-prejudice condition, his comments explicitly invoked race as a factor in the decision (e.g., …that the Black candidate had been a member of ‘too many minority organizations,’’ and the White candidate was a ‘‘typical white prep-school kid’’), making it clear that the decision
was motivated by bias.

There was also an interaction with the race of the purported “HR manager” such that:

We also observed an interaction between subject’s race and evaluator’s race… indicating that the Stroop results were also determined by the match between subject’s race and the race of the evaluator (and job candidate). Cognitive depletion was attenuated when the evaluative context featured a match between the subject’s race and the human-resources officer’s race (i.e., both Black or both White), and the job candidate was a racial out-group member … Cognitive depletion was exacerbated when the evaluative context instead featured a match between the subject’s race and the job candidate’s race, such that the human-resources officer making the hiring recommendations was a member of the racial out-group…

This is all somewhat relevant to a prior post on Jim Watson’s little dustup.

Notorious arrogant bastard* and Nobel laureate, James Watson shoots off again, this time descending into race/intelligence minefield [Pharyngula, Zuska, denialism blog]. Consequently gets talk cancelled. The ass kick by Greg Laden here and here, pre-empts my need to get into the intelligence literature. Blogosphere and MSM goes nuts for a news cycle or two.

Necessary… Read the rest of this entry »

Female Science Professor has a good one on the hoary old “fishing expedition” StockCritique of grant review. “Stamp collecting” is a new one for me though!

Open Access Grantsmanship

October 17, 2007

I was reading one of the summaries of the CSR Peer Review open house roundtable things, from the “Neuroscience” one. A quick Google is coming up dry so if anyone recalls a summary that includes survey data, please comment. The thing that struck me was that over 50% of participants had never had a grant triaged. Read the rest of this entry »

A really good discussion on the mentoring job over at New Kid on the Hallway with several posts here, here and here. It follows a pseudonymous post over at the Chronicle of Higher Ed complaining about a 25 year career wasted in thankless mentoring. Read the rest of this entry »