The deadline for nominations for the Jasper Loftus-Hills Young Investigator Awards is Jan. 1. Details here.
A rare retraction in ecology, from Biology Letters. There’s no suggestion of misconduct, merely honest errors the last author worked hard to fix. A second paper, in GEB, also is affected by the errors, but GEB will allow the authors to publish a corrected version. Our own Brian McGill, EiC of GEB, is quoted in the linked article. Mistakes happen in science, and discovering you’ve made one is really...Read the full article.
A while back I argued that we’ll never get rid of salesmanship in science, and wouldn’t want to. But there are more and less effective of “selling” your work (i.e. conveying to others why it’s interesting or important).
Here’s perhaps the worst way to “sell” your work: just asserting how great it is. This is totally ineffective. If your work is great, telling the reader that it’s great is superfluous. If your work isn’t great, telling the reader it is won’t convince the reader otherwise. As the old adage goes, show don’t tell. And don’t just take my word for it, take NSF’s (see tip #3).
Indeed, merely asserting how great your work is is actually worse...Read the full article.
In a recent post, we came up with a great list of popular science books that appeal to scientists. Now let’s do the same thing for fiction. What are your favorite novels featuring scientists? I’ll accept novels about academia too.
I’ll kick things off with four very different but equally-excellent selections:
Thinks… Light comedy/romance: poet meets computational psychologist. Beach reading for smart people. Includes interesting musing on the nature of consciousness and the relationship between scientific and artistic ways of looking at people. Gets lots of humor from the main characters describing the same events differently in their journals. By David Lodge, a retired British prof who...Read the full article.
Jeremy had a post on Monday musing on a propensity for researchers that start out doing basic research and end up mixing applied research in later in their careers. I think the core observation is, on average of course, not by individual, correct. And there were a lot of spirited explanations of why this is in the comments. His framing of a single trade-off dimension between basic and applied is extremely common, and embedded in the funding of many nations’s scientific agencies (e.g. in the US, NSF only funds basic research while the US Department of Agriculture funds applied research).
But I’ve always found that trade-off limiting. Among other things, it implies something cannot be both basic and applied, something which I reject (and Don S gave a pretty spirited rebuttal of in the comments as well). I have found the notion of two trade-off axes put...Read the full article.
Anecdotal observation: ecologists tend to switch from fundamental to applied research as they age. Marc Cadotte used to ask fundamental questions in protist microcosms; now he’s the editor of an applied journal who blogs about the importance of “ecosystem health”. Dave Tilman started out developing resource competition theory and testing it with algae in chemostats; these days he writes a lot about sustainable agriculture. Will Wilson used to do stuff like model Lotka-Volterra species-abundance distributions; now he’s writing a...Read the full article.
Badgergeddon! That’s how one of Britain’s national newspapers described the ongoing cull of badgers, intended to curb the spread of bovine tuberculosis (TB) to cattle.
The culls are highly controversial. Farmers clamour for decisive action to control a disease which causes them economic hardship and mental stress. Scientists point out that only a fraction of herds catch TB from badgers, and that culling badgers spreads the disease to new areas. Leading vets warn that shot badgers...Read the full article.