Apparently some epic dumbasses decided that the common housecat, bloodthirsty lethal little murder-cat killing machine that it is, wasn’t quite badass enough.

What. Is. Wrong. With. People?

As you know, I have a morbid fascination with PLoS ONE and what it means for science, careers in science and the practices within my subfields of interest.

There are two complaints that I see as supposed objective reasons for old school folks’ easy complaining bout how it is not a real journal. First, that they simply publish “too many papers”. It was 23,468 in 2012. This particular complaint always reminds me of

which is to say that it is a sort of meaningless throwaway comment. A person who has a subjective distaste and simply makes something up on the spot to cover it over. More importantly, however, it brings up the fact that people are comparing apples to oranges. That is, they are looking at a regular print type of journal (or several of them) and identifying the disconnect. My subfield journals of interest maybe publish something between about 12 and 20 original reports per issue. One or two issues per month. So anything from about 144 to 480 articles per year. A lot lower than PLoS ONE, eh? But look, I follow at least 10 journals that are sort of normal, run of the mill, society level journals in which stuff that I read, cite and publish myself might appear. So right there we’re up to something on the order of 3,000 article per year.

PLoS ONE, as you know, covers just about all aspects of science! So multiply my subfield by all the other subfields (I can get to 20 easy without even leaving “biomedical” as the supergroup) with their respective journals and…. all of a sudden the PLoS ONE output doesn’t look so large.

Another way to look at this would be to examine the output of all of the many journals that a big publisher like Elsevier puts out each year. How many do they publish? One hell of a lot more that 23,000 I can assure you. (I mean really, don’t they have almost that many journals?) So one answer to the “too many notes” type of complaint might be to ask if the person also discounts Cell articles for that same reason.

The second theme of objection to PLoS ONE is as was recently expressed by @egmoss on the Twitts :

An 80% acceptance rate is a bit of a problem.

So this tends to overlook the fact that much more ends up published somewhere, eventually than is reflected in a per-journal acceptance rate. As noted by Conan Kornetsky back in 1975 upon relinquishing the helm of Psychopharmacology:

“There are enough journals currently published that if the scientist perseveres through the various rewriting to meet style differences, he will eventually find a journal that will accept his work”.

Again, I ask you to consider the entire body of journals that are normal for your subfield. What do you think the overall acceptance rate for a given manuscript might be? I’d wager it is competitive with PL0S ONE’s 80% and probably even higher!

A recent comment from Spiny Norman waxes unimpressed with child-care cost complaints of those in the academic pipeline.

My partner and I knew we were going into demanding, high-risk, poorly-compensated public service careers. We knew that both time and money would be limiting, and saw little point to having kids if they were mostly going to be raised by paid surrogates.

We also looked around, and concluded that the planet was/is *not* suffering from a shortage of fat, happy, high-carbon-footprint first world babies.

This makes me ponder. Read the rest of this entry »

The key to being a science rockstar, if you like that sort of thing*, is to become legendary in the minds of others while never believing it for a second yourself.

If you fail on the second part, you are just kind of a jerk.
*I don’t, obv.

sometimes stuff just brings you up short, you know?

Between our high schools, there were three out/outed gay kids. Not one – 0% – of them lived long enough to graduate. All three committed suicide – two in “car accidents” and one with his father’s gun.

I missed the GertyZ-hosted Diversity in Science carnival, Pride Edition.

Whether you are one of us queer scientists, an active ally, or a person who realizes that they have queer friends and/or family members that they care about. What does queer advocacy mean to you? What works? How do these issues change your life as a scientist?

Or, probably not “missed” it. I thought about chiming in several times. But as you know, Dear Reader, I don’t like taking up self-appointed mantles of “ally” or anything like that.

I don’t feel like I have anything authoritative to say beyond, “Be a fucking decent person, why doncha?”.

And it isn’t that hard at all. I am not particularly special, I’ve lived in a fairly heteronormative path of life and I’m, as a certain beloved blog commenter is fond of pointing out, blind as a bat to many of the hyphengendered issues.

So all I ever have is the usual.

I have friends that are gay. Friends from high school, friends from college (hmm, not sure about grad school, have to think about that) and friends from now. Colleagues in my professional life. Members of the extended family. Gay parents in the neighborhood within which I do my own parent thing.

They all deserve the same things everyone else deserves. Period, end of story, why is this even an issue anymore. This is the level of obviousness to me.

Advocacy? Not really, no.

I’m sure many of you are not much different from me….all I can ask is that you take the low-inertia path. Many of you are already on social media of various stripes….just take that extra effort to post your links and views and RT the hell out of things you see that support equality. It isn’t big stuff but then, you already know how to bake your own cookies, right? you don’t need your back patted.

You just want to make your support emphatically clear. You never know when a teenager is going to run across a critical mass of support out there at at a critical moment. Or when a right-wing relative on Fb is finally open to reason. Or when that advocacy link you posted or RT’d will finally, *finally* get through to Uncle Joe.

@Neuropolarbear opined:

Now that my lab is collecting data, I think my students would be more productive if I leave and stop pestering them for 2 months.

Stop pestering and stop helping them. And maybe I really mean postdocs rather than students. But I often think this.

Trainees would in many cases be better served if the PI said “Hey guys, I’m taking off on sabbatical, see you in six months or so.”

I’ve never had the nerve to try that one out though. I can’t see my way to risking my precious projects that way. Either that or I can’t bear the thought of having a trainee really bollocks up their training stint with me to the point that it is an abject failure…and think I could have been more involved in oversight.

I worry, however, that this hovering weakens them.

So how about it, PI-tariat? How long would you let your trainees go without having any decent idea what they were up to? More than two weeks? More than a month?

….Six months????


April 26, 2012

The eternal conundrum of institutional IT decision making: that designed to make it “easy” for utter morons in the system invariably fucks up workflow beyond all recognition for those who have even the slightest familiarity with the system.

Corollary: the morons never use the system anyway.