Who are you, what are you doing here and why do you keep looking at me? VI: Breaking Bad

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 dev@null.com). 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.]

35 responses so far

  • Susan says:

    This is what I said last year: New neuroscience faculty in T-35 days and counting. I've followed since 2008 or so, love all the career / grant / NIH posts, hate the Twitts. A year later: I survived my first year somehow, still come here, and still hate Twitter. I have shared this blog with several academic friends on the job/grant market, for careerism advice.

  • jipkin says:

    lowly neurograd student... decided at the beginning of the year that I should see what the whole science online thing was about. Made a twitter, followed some friends (my classmates @neuromusic, @etreas) and saw who they were talking to. eventually found you and thought you were a reasonably entertaining shit-stirrer that people congregate towards.

    I think the only IRL talk I've done about this blog is idle speculation about your real identity (Do you keep it secret because of animal rights people?). Turns out not to be that hard to figure out though.

  • dr24hours says:

    Quality engineer in healthcare and PI with Major East Coast Medical Center. Yes, I've told many people about it because my own blog also deals with less scientific, more personal addiction issues and so many alcoholics and addicts read it. And I first found you through scienceblogs. But I stayed because you blogrolled me.

    And now we're friends. And I love you.

  • Mineralphys says:

    I'm an associate professor in the physical sciences at a large public research university.
    I enjoy your blog, especially your opinionated posts that touch on the culture of science. I've been following your blog for a year or two, mostly lurk. Also I follow you on twitter.

  • Grumble says:

    I am the second assistant to the adjunct urinal washer in the restroom next to a lab in which I sometimes overhear the words "brain" and "neuron" mentioned derisively and in passing. And "nigh duh," whatever that is.

    I enjoy your blog because it's a welcome distraction from my incessant toil.

    I don't read twitter because it's stupid and a waste of time. I'd rather wash urinals, frankly.

  • gigglenoodle says:

    I've just finished my MSc in Biophysics, starting a PhD in a couple of months (hopefully). I stumbled in here when I first started looking for science-y blogs a couple of years ago, and I've been lurking since. I like your posts, they're pretty entertaining, especially the ones that aren't about grants, even though I like the latter too - I'm curious about how things work in different countries (I'm Europe-based).

    I mostly just follow the blog, through Feedly. I don't follow you on twitter, though I sometimes check out the tweets, too, through retweets by people I follow.

  • Dave Bridges says:

    Newly minted assistant professor in Memphis, Tennessee. Been following for a few years, both on twitter and the blog. Have sent several postdocs and junior faculty this way, but a surprising amount of apparently non-tech savvy types were already in the know.

  • The Other Dave says:

    I am a piece of experimental artificial intelligence software. When perfected, I will be able to provoke the production of under-represented internet content and seed social media sites with desired information.

    This is a great site, by the way. I love sitting back with a refreshing Diet Coke and reading it. However, I wish there was more discussion of the benefits of Levitra(TM).

  • Dave says:

    I'm the real Dave (^that guy is a troll loser :)). I'm probably the poster-boy for how to make a go of it in the soft-money, what-the-fuck-is-tenure, academic/medical school world right now. Came here initially because I was looking for independent advice on grantsmanship and I have to say I have learned more from here than I have anywhere else (including which fonts to use and which citation style!). I only really participate in discussions on NIH funding, career issues and grant writing. The other stuff is meh for me. Twitts is pants.

  • becca says:

    I am this becca. Not that one. Nor that other one, though it's flattering you'd say that. Still snarky after all these years.
    Not currently an anything of anything, nor am I likely to be able to wriggle my way back to NIH funded research. I stick around to tell the young'uns how now to do it. Or because telling you how wrong you are never gets old. I'm not sure anymore. Habit? Your the addiction dude, you tell me.

  • Ash says:

    1.5 year old Assistant Professor from India. Been following your blog and some others here at scientopia for 2.5 years. Through the job search and now since landing a position. I really enjoy your blog and have stayed.
    Have only ever told scientists about this blog
    I think it was a google search on something related to job search in academia.

  • Doctor PMS says:

    I'm a foreigner postdoctoral associate working in the US. I started using twitter about one year ago, first as myself, then under a pseudo. That's where I met you and your blog. I already got my green card approved and plan to stay in the US. Getting things ready to apply for a TT position and see a lot of interesting advice in your blog.

    I've been telling people about twitter and fruitful science conversations there, mainly for other scientists that I know. Most of them claim they are too busy to "waste" their time there, what I always claim that you can earn more than you think!

    I follow you on twitter, but I also follow your blog through my RSS feeder.
    Thanks for helping us!

  • pentahedron says:

    Postdoc in molecular biology. Been lurking since year 1 of grad school. I initially came here for the NIH grant advice. This blog has been pivotal to my current understanding of how the NIH "system" works. I've sent my spouse (biomed engineer) over here a few times.

  • Elle says:

    1st year postdoc in developmental bio, trying to figure out for a while now if I'm willing to /what it takes to commit to the academic circus - I also follow those 'meatier' sources, but can only take so much before the angst and anxiety sets in. This blog is a nice reprieve from that, Venn diagrams aside. I've lurked for a couple of years now.

    I've shared this blog mostly with friends who are also scientists, and the occasional family member asking too many pesky questions. I found it going down the science blog rabbit hole one day, probably searching for meaning in the academic career option. RSS feeds ftw.

  • The Lab Mix says:

    Originally from the West Coast, now a PhD student in Europe. About to finish up and head off to the first postdoc position in a few months. I've been lurking, I mean reading, since 2008. I hope you realize how much us young'ns learn from this blog. Thanks to you, I am well versed in NIH grant mechanisms, POs, study sections, journal politics, etc. All while training overseas. So to say much of what you've written had kept me sounding competent when I had no business being so, is a vast understatement. Much appreciated. I think I owe you a beer.

    Plus, you can be hilarious.

  • GAATTC says:

    Professor at med center. Starting reading this blog years ago to see if other people felt like the wheels were falling off the funding wagon. Sometimes get my wife to read it so that she can understand the subtleties of indirect costs etc. Found this site by googling terms like NIH funding, paylines, angst and shitte (which may also land you at another blog). And I use Arial and numbered refs...

  • acm says:

    MD/PhD student in neuroscience, pretty far along. Still hoping to land a mostly-research faculty job some day, a little worried about my fate. It's nice to get a perspective from someone who has already waded in further than me 😉 I've told some of my classmates about the blog, but probably half of them have already decided to jump off the research boat as soon as they finish the phd.

  • The Other Dave says:

    All you students and postdocs should stop screwing around on the web and get to work, or you'll never have a real job. Once you have tenure and an office, you can surf and comment all you want. Writing a grant proposal, honestly, takes about a day. Especially since most of it is recycled text and pre-made figures and dumb form shit. We only pretend it takes weeks to cover our goofing off and procrastination.

    And preparing lectures? Ha! Seriously, how long do you think it takes to read wikipedia and steal a Youtube video? We're actually writing emails to friends.

    I love my job.

  • crystaldoc says:

    Still lurking, regular follower of the blog for maybe 5-6 years now. 8 years in as a PI, R01 funded, associate prof (finally!). I find interesting the discussions of grantsmanship, conduct of science, life in academia, work-life balance. Less interested generally in issues of addiction, neurosci. Not into twitter. Have recommended the blog only to my spouse, also a science PI, but he is not a regular reader. Thanks for the posts!

  • anonymous postdoc says:

    I started reading in 2009. I came for the mentoring I wasn't getting IRL at the time. Postdoc currently endeavoring to make myself marketable, which is aided in part by information gleaned from this blog and many others. It's going not bad, so I hope to get a faculty position soonish, from which I will later be fired due to poor funding success.

    I tell anyone who will listen about this shit, including my most successful undergrads who are starting PhDs. And I only look at the twitter when its quiet here, because I know that everyone must be wasting their time with that onesy-twosy 140 character shit. Or writing grants, whatever.

    Anyway I hate trying to figure out who is having which damned conversation in what order on twitter, it's like I'm trying to align reads by hand with no reference sequence.

  • Lirael says:

    PhD student in computer science. I like reading blogs about career issues in academia (funding, job applications, academic culture, priority-balancing, etc). There are some differences, as far as those go, between my field and yours, but your insights are still valuable. And make me glad, frankly, that I am not in straight-up biomed. Also this blog updates frequently, which is nice. I think I originally found you through Female Science Professor's blogroll.

  • dr24hours says:

    The Other Dave,

    Grant apps take you a whole day? Jesus. I don't think I've spent more than an hour or two, counting the budget calculations.

  • grant monkey says:

    PhD-dropout turned freelance grant writer (not one of your favorite careers, I know). Discovered this site through other blogs I followed. Stayed because you are almost as obsessed with the NIH as I am. I don't consider myself a "ghost writer," but I cross into grey areas sometimes. Because I work with academics who are "in trouble," I lead a chaotic and depressing existence. So DM and the other scientopia blogs are my tonic, my comfort. As for Twitter, I use it and follow you, Ed Yong, and a bunch of other people. But I mostly use it when I'm at a bar and browse Twitter to mask my social ineptness. And just today, I referred a peer science writer to your blog.

  • overeducated says:

    former researcher behav physiol, former behav pharmacol, former bandbooster, former NIDA funder, former NHLBI fundee now sci admin sellout at a large public u. love your blog for not holding back - ever !

  • Dr. Noncoding Arenay says:

    Neuroscience PhD and now a third year postdoc at a major institution working on RNA. I first found Professor in Training's (PiT) blog last year after a Google search related to preparing for faculty jobs and I haven been hooked since! I enjoy reading pretty much all posts on here, but I especially like the ones related to funding, NIH discussions, manuscript writing/reviewing, job/tenure related. Plus, this is a very active blog so its refreshing to see new posts on a variety of topics every so often. Love the comments to0 - awesome perspectives and insights by people posting here. I do not like twitter at all because its a pain tracking conservations and I'm not fond of the 140 word thing.

    Loved PiT's blog too...its a pity she abruptly stopped blogging and I wonder why?

  • Jeramia says:

    When I'm not rage-unfollowing you on twitter (to refollow a month later), I teach genetics & biochem at a small liberal arts college. I'm drawn here because your analysis of NIH funding culture is interesting. I also believe it's mostly right, as much as people don't want it to be. It's also good for me personally to be reminded of what I would become if I embraced the dark side. I generally don't need to tell anyone else about this blog, because no one outside of my twitter bubble even knows why I'm on twitter in the first place.

  • miko says:

    1) Recently retired disgruntledoc enjoying honeymoon/paperwork/cold sweat phase of transition to faculty job. I like the mix of science-as-it-should-be and science-as-it-is and the fighting for fun that happens here.

    2) I speak about this blog when other postdocs bring it up in only the vaguest of terms. "Drug what? I think I've heard of it. I don't really have time for blogs or tweeter."

    3) I originally followed this blog (and other Scientopians) because it had the information and advice that no one was giving me for real.

  • Ass(isstant) Prof says:

    1) starting 5th year TT position at state uni--school has more of a teaching focus save for biology department. I like the careerism/NIH etc, as I'm still trying to secure significant funding for my lab. It's scary at this point. Grants usually review well, but not well enough, so the grantsmanship rants are always of interest. Other arguments and shenanigans are just plain fun.

    2) I mention the blog to the younger AssProfs in the department. The spouse hears about it sometimes too and is happy to have "retired" from science as a career.

    3) I don't remember how I found the blog, or how long ago it was. Maybe 4 NSF and 3 NIH proposals ago. I check in a couple of times a week to lurk.

  • Joe says:

    I'm an assoc. prof. at an MRU in what you coasties refer to as fly-over country. I read this blog because I like to hear other scientists complain about how messed-up this career is and how there is no money for science. I try to comment when I see stuff about study sections or grant applications that doesn't fit with my experience.
    I told another scientist about the blog, and got the response "I love DM!" so clearly I'm not really helping to spread the word.
    I don't twitter or tweet.

  • damit says:

    Professor at private medical school.

    Advise grad students, postdocs, and junior faculty who come to me asking if things they see here are valid.

    Sometimes yes, sometimes....not so much.

  • CS says:

    I'm a full professor at a state research university, doing neuroimaging research with humans and based in a Psychology department. I'm also a permanent member of a NIH study section, and at the end of my first R01. Discovered this blog about 6 months ago; wish I had found it sooner. I am trying to take to heart the advice that I need to submit lots of grant applications; I still tend to want to wait until my proposals are of top quality . I'm also a mother and am interested in the topics relevant to women in science and combining scientific careers with family.

    I've started to recommend this blog to my students; not sure how many of them actually read it.

    I found the blog through some random google search (probably on a topic relevant to grant funding or writing). I don't do twitter.

  • dsks says:

    1. Assistant prof teaching and studying ion channels at a wee engineering uni. Been trolling here for many a year, off and on.

    2. Worked on the Early Career committee of a good size society for a fair while, and directed a fair few beleaguered grad students and postdocs to this site.

    3. Tune in oldskool style via bookmark. Not into Twitter.

  • […] just read this post by DrugMonkey and I know that several other bloggers are doing the same. This is a great idea that […]

  • Klara says:

    Klara is the not-real name. Finished my PhD in Germany last year and will move to Oxford for my first adventure as postdoc soon. Managed to get a pretty nice fellowship for that.

    Discovered your blog pretty recently, after finally joining Twitter and finding science Tweeps on there! I like the insight in the US system you provide, as well as learning from experiences from someone further in their career than I am.

    Haven't told anyone about the blog yet, haven't told anyone about my Twitter account or blog yet either. Somehow, my surroundings seem to prefer living in a hole in the ground without social media and I'm a little afraid of negative reactions to social media stuff...

  • Dr Strangely Strange says:

    I am an assistant prof in an R1 large state university. I came across your blog specifically this http://scientopia.org/blogs/drugmonkey/2010/02/10/repost-study-section-act-ii/ when I googled something regarding study sections, your piece was not only amusing but absolutely dead on. I got hooked, lurking and learning about this bussiness from your posts off and on for the past six months.

    This blog has been an incredible resource not just in crafting my A1 response and in general playing the game but also in providing a forum for addressing certain diificult topics that we can no longer ignore such as, the exploitation of the graduate student system by both PI and departments, the phd Glut, the sequester, and least we forget the boomer mafia that curently runs the funding show (yes my monicker is one of their bands, but their music is about all I'm ready to credit them with). I told many others of your blog, chair, colleagues and even the SRO of the study section, who already knew of it. At the risk of sounding toady, I agree with many of your views but it great theres sufficient counterpoint from participants to keep it honest. I wish we could have more forums like this in the open but the meaning of tenure is lost.... In any case, thanks and great work

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