Hope

Dec 07 2016 Published by under Careerism, Tribe of Science

I recently attended a scientific meeting with which I've had an uncomfortable relationship for years. When I first heard about the topic domain and focus of this meeting as a trainee I was amazed. "This is just the right home for me and my interests in science", I thought. And, scientifically this was, and still is, the case.

I should love this meeting and this academic society.

This has not been the case, very likely because of the demographics of the society (guess) in addition to a few other....lets call them unusual academic society tics.

This year was a distinct improvement. It isn't here yet but I can see a youth wave about to crash into the shore. This swell of younger scientists (stretching from postdoc to nearly-tenured) looks more like modern science to me. Demographically, and on many dimensions.

This gives me hope for the future of this academic meeting.

19 responses so far

  • doctorD says:

    In a similar vein, it is time for CPDD to modernize its membership processes and encourage rather than discourage new investigators to join and become active.

  • drugmonkey says:

    What is not modern about it? How are new investigators discouraged?

  • Chris lbs says:

    Glad you enjoyed it, my friends had a good time at the pool. See my FB

  • Jonathan Badger says:

    "a few other....lets call them unusual academic society tics"

    Oh, there *always* has to be somebody who objects to the session where everyone dons robes and chants from the Necronomicon, doesn't there?

  • Jmz4 says:

    I wouldn't mind it if they would just put a little more effort into their pronunciation.

  • Grumble says:

    Is it just me, or is this the most cryptic post ever to appear on DM's blog?

    What society? What meeting? What has been so hidebound about the society and meeting? Why are the younguns suddenly a wave? What qualities and attributes contribute? Why weren't you hopeful before, and why are you hopeful now?

    Or, just: Huh?

  • doctorD says:

    What is not modern about it? How are new investigators discouraged?

    Full membership requires two or three letters from current members plus I think 10 publications in the field and you must attend a CPDD meeting before you can become a member. Membership lists are not available to nonmembers. And applications are only reviewed once a year at the annual meeting. It feels very antiquated.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    doctorD:

    Wow. That sounds weird.

    "The first rule of CPDD is that you don't talk about CPDD."

  • drugmonkey says:

    Full membership requires two or three letters from current members plus I think 10 publications in the field and you must attend a CPDD meeting before you can become a member. Membership lists are not available to nonmembers. And applications are only reviewed once a year at the annual meeting. It feels very antiquated.

    First of all, associate membership only requires** 2 first author pubs and they specify "or equivalent" so I'm sure that this covers many unusual cases. I don't think it is too much to ask of an academic society that you've bothered to attend it once, although perhaps there should be a "first year attendee" discount on the registration fee to encourage noobs. There are only 2 sponsor letters required for associate or Regular member (one for trainees). This is super common for academic societies- I can't think of any I belong to that didn't require something like that. As far as membership lists go, well I think that is probably something you work out from going to the meeting, assuming you can't work it out from the context of what people work on, publish on, etc. Sorry, but I'm not really seeing where it is some huge burden to ask around about who is a member of CPDD if you have even the slightest interest in the College. And I really don't see where other academic societies do this much differently. SFN does. ASPET does. ACNP does. I know of several more that do and can't think of any in fields that are of interest to me that don't.

    In short I'm having trouble envisioning a scenario where the way CPDD does things is some terrible burden or horribly exclusive. I imagine that their reject rate, assuming you get the sponsor letters, is essentially nil. This is not a highly selective organization. nor is SFN, ASPET, RSA, etc, etc.

    Only reviewing memberships once* per year is, I will agree, stupid and counterproductive.

    *ETA: hold up. CPDD guidelines say members are voted on twice per year and trainee memberships are reviewed essentially as-submitted throughout the year.

    **ETA: OFFS. I, and you, should have read the actual guideline document not just the summary table. the criterion for associate membership is "have made significant contributions in basic science, clinical research or other scholarly field...for example 2 first-author pubs....". But it then goes on to say many other things may qualify and say the committee shall use its judgment.

  • drugmonkey says:

    "The first rule of CPDD is that you don't talk about CPDD."

    Absolutely false. Unlike a certain other unnamed neuropsychopharmacologically oriented society which went for decades with jealously guarded top sekrit membership lists so that nobody could harass them about how to join or even attend the annual meeting.

  • Jonathan Badger says:

    "And I really don't see where other academic societies do this much differently."

    Really? All the societies (molecular ecology, microbiology, computational biology) that I belong to make joining very, very straightforward. You go to their fricken website, click "join" and pay the annual fee. No secret handshakes or knowing somebody who's a member. I don't get the motivation to make membership "selective". If anything, the societies plead with people to actually join and bring up the great discounts on journals and conferences if people bother signing up.

  • drugmonkey says:

    I don't see much reason to either, my point is that it is completely normal for academic societies of my acquaintance. Interesting that you've never run into this, JB.

    As you say, these societies habitually plead for the members to recruit additional members so you would think lowering the threshold/burden would be a no brainer.

  • Grumble says:

    Well, I dunno, JB. The membership policy reflects the purpose of the society. Here's one great example.

    If DM's society is really so secretive (and apparently it is, because he can't even name it publicly), then its purpose is not to promote research on a scientific topic, but to promote the control of research on that topic by a select few.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    If DM's society is really so secretive (and apparently it is, because he can't even name it publicly)

    I'm guessing it's the Bavarian Illuminati.

  • Geo says:

    Please stop using code words.

  • shrew says:

    I agree this year was better than previous times I have attended This Meeting. I had good conversations and I began to feel like the people who attend the meeting (if not the society itself) find my presence good or at least unobjectionable. These other comments, however, cement my suspicion that the sketchy sekrit nonsense they have always pulled is truly uncommon. They should just make it an open meeting. I honestly don't know what they are afraid of*.

    *they are afraid of unwashed riff raff like me, I assume, because I always have to scrub for an invitation.

  • drugmonkey says:

    ^part of the wave

  • shrew says:

    If I am, it's because of your good work mentoring all of us junior riffraff into position!

  • ecologist says:

    That's interesting. I have not encountered hurdles for membership in a scientific society since the 1970s. These days, scientific societies in ecology (U.S. and Europe), sociology (again, U.S. and Europe), microbiology, and mathematics are open to anyone interested in their purposes. As are the big multipurpose societies like AAAS and AGU, and the smaller taxon-specific societies (whales, birds). The main requirement is possession of a valid credit card!

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