Musings on a New Year

January 18, 2008

I already did the “out with the Old” and the maudlin things. Now it is time for “in with the New”. It’s a New Year and it will soon be a new year of DrugMonkey.

So in shameless solicitation of our own little Sally Fields moment, DearReaders, would you be so kind as to supply some thoughts on the first year of DrugMonkey? [Update 1/16/08: Although WP doesn’t do sticky, I’m re-time stamping this. I got my reasons…; Update2: and “sticky” again.]

Why do you read?

What categories of discussion do you come back for?

Do you have a favorite post or discussion thread?

What make you say WTF? and go elsewhere?

What would you like to see more of in the way of discussion?

Does the blogosphere fit into your professional engagement as a scientist, academic or other?

Which blogs do you read that it seems as though we don’t and should? (hmm, I never did do the Blogrolling thing, did I?)

In short DearReader (and especially you Lurkers, no email necessary), fire away!

18 Responses to “Musings on a New Year”

  1. Piled Higher, Deeper Says:

    More ranking on postdocs?

    Like

  2. PhysioProf Says:

    I think PhysioProf is a genius, and really enjoy his posts.

    Like

  3. juniorprof Says:

    I’ll take a stab at your questions (as a very serious lurker)

    1) I read for grantmanship and career advice. I’ve been reading your blog over my transition from postdoc to asst prof (including during the interview process). You guys have helped me out immensely that’s why I keep coming back… I continue to LearnSomething

    2) Career advice, grantmanship

    3) My favorites were the job talk postings (some of them happened to coincide with some interviews) and the pyramid scheme (still going strong — the thread that is). Also up there are the posts on senior PIs in study section and the lack of support for pushing so hard on this.

    4) Honestly can’t remember a WTF moment. Lots of good laughs. I have to admit, though, that prior to beginning the interview process I did feel that you guys ranked a bit too harshly on postdocs. However, sometime during that process the switch clicked on and I started to get it. Some of these issues were clarified (explicitly) during the pyramid scheme discussion, to everyone’s benefit I think.

    5) Sure, the blogosphere fits. Us young pups like this sort of thing. I keep debating over starting one myself but perhaps a better idea is to start actually commenting around here.

    6) I think Inthepipeline, Derek Lowe’s drug industry / chemistry blog is a great one. Nice to get some industrial insight from the conversation over there.

    So, in closing, thanks to all of you for your time and effort around here. You’ve been a huge help to me and I suspect there are many more like me hanging around here advancing their careers with all of your thoughtful posts.

    Like

  4. BugDoc Says:

    Why do you read?
    Between DM & PP, I see much insightful discourse about the workings of the scientific community that I think is incredibly valuable to young postdocs and students. As a faculty member, I also find it interesting to read different perspectives on many issues that I think about, e.g. NIH, peer review, mentoring, etc. You guys rock.

    Do you have a favorite post or discussion thread?
    I’m not in neuroscience, so I tend to spend more time reading the general science posts.

    What make you say WTF? and go elsewhere
    Nothing. Having been in science this long, there’s very little that actually elicits a WTF except for occasional peer review comments.

    What would you like to see more of in the way of discussion?
    Interesting/disturbing trends in science culture. For example, a few months ago I met a midcareer seminar speaker who told me that in his field (bunny hopping?), the same Big Cheeses were invited to speak at all the prestigious meetings year after year, and “junior faculty” including people who were already at the associate professor level were never invited. Some of these “junior” folks finally had enough and applied for funding to start their own meeting. To give you a sense for what “junior” means, in that field a prestigious award for “young” investigators was given to a scientist who, although admittedly stellar, has been a full professor and Howard Hughes investigator for about 5 years. I really applaud the folks who decided to make a move and start their own meeting – what a great and positive way to deal with a strange situation.

    Another interesting and somewhat disturbing anecdote I heard: a Big Cheese lab at Big Time U put together a paper which was submitted to C/N/S. Big Cheese PI, being a generous person, took his name off the paper and allowed the senior postdoc to be corresponding author. After fairly positive reviews, the editor contacted Big Cheese PI and said that the work seemed promising, but without Big Cheese’s name on the paper, it was unlikely to be accepted since the journal had to consider how much “impact” a paper would have to readers. Now that’s a WTF moment. Shouldn’t the impact be based on the science? Does this stuff actually happen?

    Like

  5. Noah Gray Says:

    That story sounds more urban legend than reality. Any editor who admits to accepting a paper only because of who the authors are should be run out of his/her job.

    Even if conspiracies like this story did (do?) happen, I would be shocked if the editor would make that information blatantly public by stating his/her intentions to the author, as described in the anecdote. Why would the editor believe that the authors would keep such things a secret? Is that a reputation that any self-respecting journal would want?

    Like

  6. BugDoc Says:

    You may be right, Noah. However, I didn’t hear this from Dr. Joe Schmoe, but someone who had recently heard it from the PI in question. I hope you are right anyway. I hope that self-respecting journal editors wouldn’t bend over backwards to accept papers from well known scientists because of their name rather than their science.

    Like

  7. drugmonkey Says:

    The thing is Noah, even for a cynical bastige like me, my usual response to urban legend type malfeasance in science is “oh, come on, surely that’s made up or exaggerated.”

    and ofttimes it probably is just some version of paranoid campfire tale.

    The trouble is that one does run across the anecdote either personally or from what one considers to be unimpeachable sources with no motivation to actually lie. Friend of Self, not FOAF. Not to mention the eventual findings of misconduct in the ORI reports.

    It is very difficult to maintain the “surely not” stance after having been in the biz for a while….

    Now, of course, in BugDoc’s anecdote we know the really unbelievable part was :
    “Big Cheese PI, being a generous person, took his name off the paper and allowed the senior postdoc to be corresponding author.” 🙂

    Like

  8. Thomas Robey Says:

    These days, I tend to skip the lab-life & post-doc posts, but they are among the most important to your blog. Don’t lose them – I am just elsewhere these days.

    I would like to see more posts about the 2008 election business.

    I think we read many of the same blogs. I appreciate how you point out others’ posts sometimes like a mini-DM carnival. Dr. Free-Ride has been trying out those mini linkfests, which I think are a good idea. They sure do help me find the latest and greatest.

    What about more formal point-counterpoints about stuff? It would be nice to see some polarity between the monkeys. I also like it when you and another blogger carry on between blogs.

    I hope the blogosphere outgrows the nerd/wonk stereotype. I’ve found perusing my 10 regulars conveniently invigorating. When you are busy, you can keep up with bloleagues (blog colleagues) over lunch or at 2 AM or on the mobile device…

    Those are my thoughts for now.

    Like

  9. ecogeofemme Says:

    I subscribe to this blog but only drop in occassionally when it’s a broader lab-life or news topic. I tend to skip the posts about NIH-funded sorts of issues, since that’s not my area. I find that they are usually too targeted to life scientists for me to relate. I don’t think you need to change that, though, because it’s what this blog is about.

    Like

  10. PhysioProf Says:

    “Dr. Free-Ride has been trying out those mini linkfests, which I think are a good idea.”

    Do people really like that crap? When I go to a blog, it’s because I like the writing of the blogger. When I see link-vomitus, I turn away immediately. I don’t want more information or links, I want more original writing.

    Like

  11. Neuro-conservative Says:

    Congratulations and thanks to DM on the (almost) blogiversary. My favorite posts are peer-to-peer discussions of NIH trends, publication strategies, etc. Day in the life stuff. It’s great to have a digital water-cooler, especially in these times. These kind of posts have pushed this blog to the top of my daily hit list.

    I also like the ranking on post-docs — not out of any animus towards post-docs, but because YFS-style victimology is a trap that I used to fall into all-too-readily.

    Finally, I just don’t get the bike stuff at all. Even off-line, I know several cycling biomed-sters. Has anyone published a study that explains the correlation? Is it just sheer testosterone competitiveness? It is hard to imagine anything more boring, unless there is some sort of fish story blog I am unaware of.

    Like

  12. PhysioProf Says:

    “I subscribe to this blog[.]”

    This a really naive question, but what does it mean to “subscribe” to a blog?

    Like

  13. ecogeofemme Says:

    I have an account with BlogLines. I subscribe to the RSS feed (or whatever feed, I don’t really know the difference between them) for a site. Bloglines then tells me whenever there’s new content on a blog. It’s an easy way to keep up with lots of blogs without having to go to them all all the time. You subscribe to new blogs in a similar way as adding them to your blogroll with blogrolling. You add a thingy in your favorites and click on it when you are at a site to which you want a subscription. Google Reader provides the same service.

    Like

  14. New Reader Says:

    Just found your site. I like what I see so far.

    Like

  15. drugmonkey Says:

    Thank you all for chiming in. Thanks for all the kind words, of course. More importantly, thanks for the thoughtful responses on how you interface with this blog. It’s been very helpful in trying to grapple with some “stuff”.

    Like

  16. CC Says:

    I concur with:

    1) I read for grantmanship and career advice. I’ve been reading your blog over my transition from postdoc to asst prof (including during the interview process). You guys have helped me out immensely that’s why I keep coming back… I continue to LearnSomething.

    … and…

    Between DM & PP, I see much insightful discourse about the workings of the scientific community that I think is incredibly valuable to young postdocs and students. As a faculty member, I also find it interesting to read different perspectives on many issues that I think about, e.g. NIH, peer review, mentoring, etc. You guys rock.

    In general, the chemists (someone mentioned Derek Lowe already, but also Chemblog, Chembark, the old Tenderbutton) cover this stuff in a way that’s very lacking in biology.

    As for Noah’s skepticism, well — I’ve got a story…

    Like

  17. BugDoc Says:

    CC: “As for Noah’s skepticism, well — I’ve got a story…”

    Ante up, CC; let’s hear it!! To give the editorial profession due credit, most of them do an excellent and probably somewhat thankless job shepherding our manuscripts through review. However, occasionally the editorial process can be somewhat obscure to the uninitiated, so it’s useful to hear the experience of others.

    Like

  18. Thomas Robey Says:

    PP: I agree that a blog must have thoughtful entries and good writing. I also appreciate an occasional tip to someone else’s thoughtful entries and good writing. In the end, this is your blog, but you did ask about what readers look for… I am just one reader.

    Like


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