Dr. Isis the Scientist has a wonderful post up discussing an important issue for scientists of all levels of development, but particularly so for those who are still battling for recognition by their peers. The key sentence of her post is this:
Doing brilliant science is not enough to get me a job
YES! Nor is it enough to get your grants funded, your ass invited to deliver seminars at other institutions or conference presentations, your papers accepted at the best possible journals, or your ass promoted and tenured. This is a major raison d'etre of the DrugMonkey blog: we assume that our readers are doing brilliant science, and then help them leverage off of that into career success that permits them to *continue* doing brilliant science for as long as they wish.
And Dr. Isis's post itself was focused on what it takes to give a clear convincing public presentation of one's hot science. Now, of course, you just know that someone was going to chime in with the usual "let the science speak for itself" cockamamie bullshit. And you would be absolutely correct.
Indeed, wonderful enlightening insightful friend of this blog and the entire science blogosphere Solly Rivlington rendered the following deep comment that really penetrates right to the essential heart of the matter:
Although the majority here agree that the quality of your science is the secret to your success as a scientists, I still find it somewhat bothersome that many would consider other factors, intrinsic or extrinsic, as important enough to sell yourself and your science. While there is no question that there are people out there who would be influenced by such factors, advising future scientists to take these factors and those who may be influenced by them into account only foster the very scourge that we all trying to eradicate.
Fortunately, Dr. Isis did not let this nonsense stand:
Alright, Rivlington. I'm going to bite because I think that you may be fundamentally misinterpreting what I am advocating. Saying that I suggest someone "sells their science" seems to imply that I advocate someone attempt to convince others of their conclusions regardless of the facts/data at hand. This is not the case, and I think you know it. However, when you consider the vast piles of articles, abstracts, presentations, etc. that someone must wade through in a week, it is important that a scientist craft their presentation in a way that their methods, results, and conclusions are clear and memorable. This helps me decide what I want to investigate further, what I want to pursue simply for my own intellectual interest, and what is immediately applicable to my research. As Becca described it, "flawless science, perfectly packaged." There is nothing dishonest about this. This is simply clarity.
A well-crafted figure is more useful than a poorly crafted figure, even if they reflect the exact same data. A well-crafted paragraph is more useful than a paragraph full of spelling and grammatical errors, even if they say the exact same thing. A clean slide with bulleted text of sufficient font size is more effective than a paragraph of tiny font. None of this is dishonest. It all about effective communication.
The alternative, as you seem to suggest, would be to simply publish your data and let people work it out to whatever ends they interpret it. This is chaos. This would make a poor domestic and laboratory goddess lose her freakin' junk.
So, that being said, let's drop the pretense of assuming that I (or anyone else) is advocating that anyone dishonestly report their findings. Let's all agree on this blog to stop squinting and finding cheaters everywhere we look. Really, it's tiresome. Instead, let's all understand that Dr. Isis's message is that brilliant science is only seen as brilliant if it is communicated effectively. A career in science, like any other career, is only successful if one can effectively demonstrate their work.
A-fucking-men, Dr. Isis!!! The scientists who are all "let the work speak for itself" are the ones who suck total motherfucking ass at writing, speaking, and presenting, and so they just want to drag everyone else down to their shitty level of communication.
If these dumbfucks wanna be all hairshirt misunderstood genius Van Gogh ear-severing scientific losers whining away their whole fucking lives, let 'em. But for fuck's sake, don't let them poison the minds of innocent young scientists who--because of their natural fear of public speaking--might be susceptible to toxic "let the science speak for itself" claptrap.
Clear effective communication is GOOD!!!!!!!! And in the absence of clear communication, who the fuck do you think suffers more? Privileged white dudes whining about "let the science speak for itself" or the various less-privileged trying to fight their way into the scientific community?