Candid Engineer recently posted on the local publication culture and how this has shifted internal frames of reference to covet GlamourMag publications.

When the hell did I get so obsessed with Glamour Mags?!?!?!! It is seriously not a particularly healthy behavior.
I got obsessed with Glamour Mags because my lab is obsessed with Glamour Mags. It’s all people seem to read, all people seem to want to talk about, all people want to publish in.

I was further struck by this observation, which underlines my occasional soapboxing on the issue:

I need to remind myself that I don’t need this kind of publication to succeed. I need to remind myself about one of my labmates, who has numerous impact factor 4-5 papers from her stint as a postdoc, got 9 interviews at top-20 schools and something like 5 or 6 offers. She’s starting her TT-position at Stanford in the fall. And I guess Stanford is nothing to sneeze at.

Exactly. The CNS-laden CV is not a prerequisite for a career. Singing my song.
But I have some additional thoughts.

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Since the presence of ScienceBlogs (Brasil) is a little subdued compared to that of ScienceBlogs (German) on the ScienceBlogs (English) pages, I thought it worth a reminder that Sb (Brasil) maintains Brazillion Thoughts as an English-language translation of some of the Portuguese-language blogging that is their normal fare.

This was originally posted June 22, 2007.

Perhaps “advocates” and “detractors” are the better terms. This is one of those heuristics that might help with crafting responses to the Summary Statement or the paper review. Others have views that touch on the topic for example MWE&G has the following in a recent post:

if you’ve hooked your primary reviewer into being a passionate advocate for your proposal, that will likely come through as well. If the summary statement lacks any sign of someone going to bat for your work, then you did not make your case even to the reviewer who should have been most excited about your project.

The heuristic is this. In situations of scientific evaluation, whether this be manuscript peer-review, grant application review, job application or the tenure decision, one is going to have a set of advocates in favor of one’s case and detractors who are against. The usual caveats apply to such a strict polarization. Sometimes you will have no advocates, in which case you are sunk anyway so that case isn’t worth discussing. The same reviewer can simultaneously express pro and con views but as we’ll discuss this is just a special case. Etc. Nevertheless there are a couple of points which arise from this heuristic which apply to all of the above situations and suggest concrete approaches to both original presentation and, where applicable, in revising the proposal/manuscript. We’ll take the case in which one is crafting a revision to a grant in response to a prior critique as the example after the jump.

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We are participating in the campaign called “Silence is the Enemy” spearheaded by Sheril Kirshenbaum of The Intersection and Isis the Scientist of On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess. Along with raising some donations for Doctors Without Borders/Medicins sans Frontieres the goals is to raise awareness.
Now as it happens I’ve not been following the NBA playoffs closely for years now. I used to but…well, life happens. So I haven’t had my memories erased by the machine of sports PR and hype. Unsurprisingly, this very same machine is very good at creating whatever narrative will help the bottom line of professional sports industry factions.
Luckily we have the critical and penetrating insight of our favorite blogging sports analyst to remind us that Forgetting is the Enemy.

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Having completed my first go-round with the new NIH scoring system earlier in the month, I’ve been trying to reflect on the good, bad and ugly. (It is still very early days on this but discussions are starting to emerge.)
I think my biggest surprise and resulting problem has to do with the fact that the actual study section discussion is supposed to follow the new critique format. The emphasis of each reviewer’s presentation is supposed to start with the overall impact, move on to significance, then investigators…etc. The detailed discussion of the approach (so familiar to the prior way of doing business) is, let us say, heavily discouraged. So the rest of the panel, who for the most part haven’t actually read the application being discussed, have no idea what the proposal is about. From chatting with other study section members who have been participating in these new review meetings I think that “frustrated” is the nicest way to describe the reaction.
Now, I am not saying that every grant received vigorous input from the entire panel of people. But at least in times past, I’d say a majority of the discussions got at least one substantive comment from another panel member, not directly assigned to the application. I’d hate to put a number on it but many applications in each and every round had a vigorous multi-reviewer discussion. So far it looks as if the participation of the other reviewers is sharply reduced. We completed our meeting earlier in the month in record time, for example.
Ideally, I would hope that reviewers will adjust to this new approach in the future by doing a little be more preparation in the week leading up to the meeting. A little more reading of the other proposals that appear likely to be discussed. And I do like the fact that the focus is supposed to be moved away from whether the minutia of the methodological approach satisfy the whims of a given reviewer. Nevertheless I suppose I didn’t anticipate the degree to which not talking about the approach left the unassigned reviewers in the dark and feeling as if they could not supply meaningful input to the discussion.

ARRAnt nonsense

June 10, 2009

This isn’t going to irritate scientists at all. I am now looking at the second mid-course correction on stimulus strategy from our friends in Program land.
By mid-course, naturally, I mean after the applications were already submitted.

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One of the subtle* aspects of NIH grant review that interests me is the competition between independence of review and other more practical matters. As you will recall, the meat of the review is generally three individuals who are assigned to the application as primary, secondary and tertiary reviewers. Up until very recently, the identity of the other reviewers on grants to which an individual was assigned were made available at the start.
This is an obvious violation of the independence of review, is it not?

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What is Toni Scarpa smoking? He recently told The Chronicle of Higher Education that

The numbers [of RC1s] are causing concern for the present, as each application requires an average of three reviewers working 12 hours apiece, Dr. Scarpa told agency representatives.

Everyone out there who is spending 12 hours reviewing their Challenge Grants, raise your hand. Based on conversations I’ve had with investigators here at BICO (& warmer environs elsewhere) in a wide range of disciplines, they uniformly find these proposals, shall we say, unchallenging, to be kind. I’m sure Comrade PhysioProf can provide the appropriate color commentary.

Go read, writedit has a few more interesting details.
But seriously? 12 hours per critique? The CSR comes across as being seriously out of touch with the reality of review now and again, don’t they?

Celebrating Loving Day

June 9, 2009

BikeMonkey Guest Post
Eddie B. jumped the gun on this with the suggestion that we should celebrate Loving Day all week. Good by me. Ed posted a letter written by Mildred Loving in 2007 just before she passed away which ends with:

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

I agree completely with Ed’s opener. The importance of celebrating Loving Day and the Loving v. Virginia victory is not just high-fiving all around (although 1967 is not so far distant for some of us). The importance of hammering away at the history, context and meaning of the Loving decision is to show how similar, if not identical, miscegenation law was to the current hot-button issue of gay marriage.
I wrote the following comments and posted them elsewhere about a year or so ago.

RIP: Mildred Jeter Loving

Mildred Jeter Loving passed away on Friday May 2, 2008 at the age of 68. Although well-known to some tan folks, many people will need to be reminded that the 1968 “Loving decision” striking down US states’ laws banning marriage between individuals of different apparent “races” was titled for Mildred and Richard Loving.

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Please remember the Silence is the Enemy campaign, spearheaded by Sheril Kirshenbaum and Isis the Scientist, to draw attention to post-conflict and other varieties of rape worldwide. The specific tangible goal is to raise money for Medicins sans Frontieres / Doctors without Borders, who are providing care to women in Liberia who have been sexually assaulted.
As part of this effort, a number of per-page-view compensated blogs (listed by Sheril) are donating their June pay. You can assist by visiting those blogs and reading through the archives.

The Intersection
On Becoming A Domestic And Laboratory Goddess
The Questionable Authority
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Blog Of The Moderate Left
Seattle Grassroots Examiner
the rugbyologist

Note the non-Scienceblogs participants at the end here, they might be of interest to our usual readers. BioE! has some additional informational links.
Also don’t forget to call or write your Congresscritter (US readers) or other national political representative. The goal being to ask what they are doing about sexual violence worldwide and particularly in the context of wars, civil and otherwise.

The change to a very brief, bullet point format (sample of old narrative version) for the written critique of NIH grant applications will have many effects, bad and good. One I’ve been pondering recently has to do with the review of applications for which a previous version has been reviewed. This could be for an A1 revision of a grant application which did not receive a fundable score the first time it was submitted or for a competing continuation of a grant which has already been funded.
This change of format is going to make these reviews really, really difficult.

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In case you missed it, the Doyenne has an interesting observation up which tends to contradict my usual assumption (and warning) about pseud blogging. I hold it to be a self-evident truth that if someone who knows the pseudonymous blogger in question runs across the blog it will be readily apparent to that reader just who the author is. Perhaps not always.

Something that I find very funny but kind of bizarre is when someone sends me a link to FSP or a copy of a post or even part of The FSP Book with a note saying that I might find this relevant, interesting, or funny.

Anybody who wants to discuss the always fascinating–and sometimes contentious–topics of appropriate authorship of scientific publications, head on over to Blue Lab Coats and join the conversation about these scenarios:

Scenario #1
Let’s say that you have 3 employees- doesn’t matter if they are students, postdocs, techs or whatever, working on a single project, basically using the same technique to get at the same question. (And we almost certainly discuss whether this is a great strategy for giving people projects to begin with, and for the record I don’t do this in my lab…but that is not the question right now.) Scientist A and Scientist B do lots of experiments, but the data is never great enough to appear in print. Scientist C has awesome hands, and gets the thing to work- and work beyond your wildest imagination. Do you include all of them on the paper that eventually makes its way out of the lab on this work, or not? Does it matter if they are in the lab concurrently or not?
Now let’s imagine that Scientist B, despite the fact that his/her experiments were a total bust, was letting Scientist C look over his/her notebook- and they were spending a lot of time troubleshooting together over beers on Friday afternoon-…. does that change your opinion of who should be on the paper…?
Scenario #2
We are going to build on scenario #1 up there for this. For your own lab members you decide – in the case where Scientist C was wildly successful without input from Scientist B (i.e. both A and B performed failed experiments)- you decide that only Scientist C should be on the paper. But you’ve got a collaborator who has to make similar sorts of decisions to determine who will be authors on a collaborative paper… from both of your labs. Your collaborator has the philosophy that the lab is a team, and that no matter whether or not particular individuals produced actual data that appears in the paper….
I think you see where I am going here- how do you reconcile who goes on the paper from each lab. Does each PI decide independently who from their labs should be included, or do the PIs have to have some sort of agreement about what constitutes enough of a contribution to be included as an author?

There has been much speculation out and about in the comments at Sb and elsewhere that a [sigificant, distressing, salient…you name it] number of blogs have departed Scienceblogs this year. Some of the bloggers in question have left signoff messages or commented elsewhere to the effect that they are leaving in a huff, which fuels this speculation.
Being a relative n00b around these parts I was curious about the ebb and flow of blogs on ScienceBlogs over the years since launch. Have we witnessed an unusual flurry of departures in the past couple of months? Let’s review the data*, shall we?

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The CSR directives assure us that the priority scores for our grants will be available on eRA Commons within 3 working days of the conclusion of the study section meeting. Of course, we have generally been waiting 4-5 months after initial submission for the study section to be held for a given grant.
Why do we do this?

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