There should be a rule that you can’t write a review unless you’ve published at least three original research papers in that topic/area of focus.

Also a rule that your total number of review articles cannot surpass your original research articles.

Thought of the Day

September 10, 2013

There seems to be a sub population of people who like to do research on the practice of research. Bjoern Brembs had a recent post on a paper showing that the slowdown in publication associated with having to resubmit to another journal after rejection cost a paper citations.

Citations of a specific paper are generally thought of as a decent measure of impact, particularly if you can relate it to a subfield size.

Citations to a paper come in various qualities, however, ranging from totally incorrect (the paper has no conceivable connection to the point for which it is cited) to the motivational (paper has a highly significant role in the entire purpose of the citing work).

I speculate that a large bulk of citations are to one, or perhaps two, sub experiments. Essentially a per-Figure citation.

If this is the case, then citations roughly scale with how big and diverse the offerings in a given paper are.

On the other side, fans of “complete story” arguments for high impact journal acceptances are suggesting that the bulk of citations are to this “story” rather than for the individual experiments.

I’d like to see some analysis of the type of citations won by papers. All the way across the foodchain, from dump journals to CNS.

Thought of the Day

September 6, 2013

We must tread lightly when equating what represents enough work for a publication to either dollars or hours spent.

But if the standard for reasonable productivity under a grant award (such as the R01) is, say, 6+ papers, and reviewers and editors think a single pedestrian paper should contain most of what is proposed in that entire award, then someone is not playing with a full deck.

Thought of the day

August 21, 2013

The entire point of being an academic, science or otherwise, is to understand and evaluate different ways of thinking about something!!!!!

Thought of the Day II

August 16, 2013

I can just key a car with one of those insipid “Wag more, bark less” stickers on general principles, right?

Thought of the Day

August 16, 2013

Fuck blueberries.

I’m running a few months behind schedule on this on but I finally remembered. It’s a meme for you, Dear Reader, to take more than the usual spotlight you enjoy at this blog. This is especially for you lurkers (in case you didn’t notice, the email field can be filled with nonsense like For the the veterans, yes I know who you are but feel free to update us on any changes in the way you interact with the blog…especially if you’ve lost touch with the content, been dismayed or just decided that I’m not who you thought at first, ideas-wise.

So, to work!

1) Tell me about yourself. Who are you? Do you have a background in science? If so, what draws you here as opposed to meatier, more academic fare? And if not, what brought you here and why have you stayed?

2) Have you told anyone else about this blog? Why? Were they folks who are not a scientist?. Ever sent anything to family members or groups of friends who don’t understand your career?

3) How did you find us and how do you regularly follow us? through Twitter, Facebook and/or other beyond-RSS mechanisms?

[This is all the fault of Ed Yong. Head over the the last iteration to see all the gory details and links to prior comment threads.]

tl;dr version: Your Humble Narrator is a sexist pig apologist for the old school heteronormative stultifying patriarchal system, hates women, resents his spouse and would leave his kids with the dogcatcher at the slightest excuse.

More after the jump….
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Academia is heritable

May 22, 2013

I tweeted a link to A Manifesto for Community Colleges, Lifelong Learning, and Autodidacts and include the lede

As some are raised a Catholic or an atheist or a vegetarian, I was raised an academic.

I was later bemused by the number of RTs and I started to think about why. I think it was the “raised an academic” part more so than any enthusiasm for the post itself.

Then today, someone on the Twitts responded to something or other about the dismal grant situation in science right now by referring to quitting to join the family business.

Academia IS my family business.

As with a great number of the people I ran across in graduate school, postdoctoral training and know now as a person with a RealJobTM in science, I was raised academic.

Are we at a particular juncture where this is possible? Did the GI bill and general expansion of higher education in the US following WWII lead us to a unique position where academic careers could become something other than a rarity within a family? Where that tendency to do what your parents do for a living was even possible when that job was within a University or College environment?

This I wonder.

Open Thread

May 8, 2013

Entertain me people. I’m begging you.

Many years ago when I was a much younger scientist, reading through the literature was occasionally frustrating. I’d come across a lab working on some question of interest and wonder why they just…..stopped, almost before they got going. Often the authors in question never returned to the published literature and I would wonder what happened.

Later on, in a few cases I would run into them again…..maybe they went to Administration in their University, maybe became a NIH Program Officer, perhaps ended up in BigPharma or publishing. In other cases there was never much trace to explain what happened.

I think we can assume it was frequently grant money-related.

We’re facing another round of the phenomenon, I sense. The current economic climate for biomedical research scientists is very grim. You know this. News of 5%ile paylines posted by at least one NIH Institute is gripping. In the bad way.

The rumble of labs closed due to loss of grant support is swelling. No longer a FOAF, either, but someone you know. The degrees of separation will shrink. People will be lost from science.

This means that future bright eyed graduate students or postdocs will read and wonder.

“What happened to that lab”, they will ponder, “the papers were leading somewhere cool but they just stopped”.

Tightly wound

April 17, 2013

A friend was recently observing that we academics seem pretty high strung right now. Cranked up to the breaking point, I’d say.

Of course we are. This sequester and continuing resolution thing has really put the bite on. The lab closings that seemed only in the realm of a Friend of a Friend or a likely possibility are now becoming reality. I’m seeing PIs leave. Close down. Jump ship. In all of this there are technicians and postdocs losing their jobs. Grad students who cannot find a funded lab to join after the rotations are finished up. Institutional decision making that seems even closer than usual to hand-flapping panic rather than a plan.

Baby, it’s cold outside.

Pretty much everyone, as we wait with bated breath for the first suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing to be arrested.

Quickly avert your eyes

April 17, 2013

I don’t agree with calls to not show the pictures of the gory aftermath of the explosions in Boston this week. It’s hard to look at and it shocks some people. If your kids run across it you might have some nightmares or some explaining to do.

So what?

This is what happened. And there were people in horrific pain, people horribly maimed and some people killed. Why should we be afraid to see this? We who gobble up violent video games and teevee shows and movies with glee.

Nobody is actually forcing you to look at it and to mull it over. You have the option of quickly looking away.

I think we should be viewing the graphic depictions of carnage from the wars we engage in too.

And also, capital crime executions should be on the nightly news.

Maybe, just maybe, we’d take our actions and inactions as a society a little more seriously if we all grappled intensely with the consequences.

Thought of the Day II

April 3, 2013

Never, ever pay one bit of attention to what any artist has to say about his or her creation. They don’t know anything about it either and their insight is just made up bullshit. Just enjoy the damn thing for what it means to you.