Archive for the 'Uncategorized' category

CV alt metrics and Glamour

Nov 19 2015 Published by under Uncategorized

Putting citation counts for each paper on the academic CV would go a long way towards dismantling the Glamour Mag delusion and reorient scientists toward doing great science rather than the "get" of Glam acceptance.

41 responses so far

NIH Grant Stylings: Preliminary Data

Nov 06 2015 Published by under Uncategorized

In the golden days of yore, when the research plan stretched to 25 pages, the Preliminary Data had a specific place. You created a header and put it inbetween the Background and the Research Plan.


In the latest version of the NIH application there is no explicit place and the headers more or less match the review criteria- Significance, Innovation and Research Strategy (which maps to Approach).

I had heard of people who sprinkled their Preliminary Data figures all across the app even in the old days but I can't remember ever trying it. With the new application, however, it just made sense to me. 

Some figures are Background/Significance and some figures are really just showing technical ability for that tricky assay used in Aim 3. Some speak directly to the Innovation.

So I spread the figures around when I think they do the most good. 

Isn't this what everyone is doing now? Have you seen other approaches? 

22 responses so far

Advice for Asst Prof stage 

Oct 27 2015 Published by under Careerism, Uncategorized

They will only stand up when you stand down.

17 responses so far

Repost: "Thanks, Doc."

Sep 28 2015 Published by under Uncategorized

Reposting due to recent comment thread. This post originally appeared on the blog 8/28/2008.

Watching Michelle Obama speak at the Democratic Convention this week was awe inspiring and hope uplifting for many Americans and others worldwide. I was feelin' it myself. But what really hammered home the real message here, for me, was listening to various media interviews with African-American women. They explained in both humble and soaring terms how important it was for their dreams, aspirations and parental hopes that Michelle stood up there, brilliant, black, beautiful, charismatic and, let's face it, just plain fabulous. Her strength and will as an advocate for the downtrodden, her country and her family alike was a big hit for women everywhere who finally, finally see families that are just like theirs making a serious run at the US Presidency.

This reminds me of a phenomenon experienced by a scientist with whom I am familiar.

"The conversation usually ends with 'Thanks Doc, it means a lot'."

It is no news that US research science looks like a little bit of apartheid. White folks are overrepresented in the faculty ranks and overrepresented in the trainee ranks down to the undergraduate level, relative to the general US population. Frequently enough relative to local city or state populations as well. African-Americans and Latino-Americans are considerably underrepresented.

[Don't yeah-but me with your favorite allegedly overrepresented group in the comments, it is irrelevant to today's discussion.]

In the service ranks, this is a different story. Visit a few Universities around the country, attend scientific meetings in the usual hotspots of Washington DC, New Orleans, Atlanta, San Diego, Los Angeles, Chicago and unless you are in complete denial or completely oblivious you notice something.

African-Americans and Latino-Americans (and some additional nonwhite ethnic groups) are considerably overrepresented in the service ranks. Administrative assistants, janitors, animal care techs, facilities staff, hotel and convention name it.

These national realities are not just anecdotes, of course. Every time we talk about affirmative action issues in the Academy on a national level, the dismal stats are related.

I make my views on casting a wide net and dismantling artificial barriers to success in science pretty clear in my blogging. I argue this both from the perspective of an advocate for my scientific domain who wants progress made and as an advocate for the individual scientist and his/her career.

Michelle Obama and the scientist who receives the "Thanks Doc" conversations remind me of another important, perhaps more important, reason for dismantling artificial barriers to science career success.

It matters that "people who look like me, are like me, have families like me" are a highly visible part of the landscape. It matters a lot. And this is why I will smack down knuckleheads who bleat on about quotas and "taking slots from the more deserving" and crap like that. First, of course, because those types (almost hysterically, unbelievably, overrepresented in the fizzycyst population) display a fundamental intuitive misunderstanding of populations, central tendencies, variance in the distribution and the rarity of extreme talents.

Second, because they disingenuously ignore the warm fuzzies, opportunities and biases associated with the vast majority of the Academy looking just like them. Third because these morally shriveled little wankers are just plain fun to tweak and can be tangled up in their inconsistencies and hypocrisy with little effort. But I digress.

Unsurprisingly, the scientist to whom I am referring looks somewhat other than the vast majority of independent scientists at the University in question. Actually, I think people have a fairly difficult time discerning just what ethnic association fits but lets just say "nonwhite", pointedly underrepresented in science. Of a variety with which many people who work in support roles at the University in question identify. Ethnicity pegging is not helped in that this person does not speak, act, associate, recreate, hobby-ate, idea-ate, iPod-ate, etc in any particularly ethnically-specific or stereotypic ways that I can detect. This observation is quite important. Unlike Michelle Obama, for whom many aspects of the identity package are consistent with the women being interviewed on the radio this week, this scientist basically only looks "like them".

My subject scientist relates numerous conversations which follow a common thread. Some staff person will drop by the office to say "Thanks Doc. It's really important to see one of us in this office doing this job."

That is the crux of the issue. Image is important. Identity is important. It matters to the larger issues of diversity that we have readily apparent, quotidian, barebones diversity. It matters to our social fabric of opportunity and fairness. It matters to the fundamental principles of what it means to be an American citizen when we are talking politics. It matters to the fundamental principles of the Academy as well.

10 responses so far

Sports and work ethics

Sep 28 2015 Published by under Uncategorized

I was having an online exchange with someone (who may or may not wish to self identify in the comments) about mentoring for work ethic. 

As part of the meander, this person observed that sports participation may have a lasting influence on one's general work ethic, style, etc.

I felt more as though my approach* to sports as an adolescent and twenty-something was very similar to my evolved work style as my career developed. From this I conclude that it was probably something more essential about my personality that drove both styles or work ethics.

Interesting to think about causal lines though. 

How about you, Dear Reader? From whence comes your work ethic?

*it will not surprise you that I was never about putting in the 110% required for the very top echelon. 

34 responses so far

Question of the day

Sep 23 2015 Published by under Uncategorized

Provocation from Michael Eisen:

Has me thinking... Would you do it? Would you pay $25,000 of your own cash money to secure publication in Nature.

I think I would do that. Have to take out a loan to do it but I think I'd chalk that up to career investment.

30 responses so far

Thought of the day

Sep 15 2015 Published by under Careerism, NIH, NIH Careerism, Uncategorized

If you are not the (or a) PI on a grant, you can be cut off of it at any time. 
Where do people get the idea they have rights independent of the PI's plans? 

32 responses so far

PSA on indicating statistical significance

Sep 09 2015 Published by under Uncategorized

Do not, under any circumstances, for any reason, EVER use the same symbol to indicate different comparisons between points on sub-panels of the same figure that depict similar data sets.

[ e.g., if you have a dose-response function for one genotype depicted in Panel A and for the same measure in a second genotype in Panel B, don't use # to indicate a difference from the vehicle condition on one panel and a difference from the highest active dose on the other panel. ]

14 responses so far

Brief thought on GenX scientists

Aug 18 2015 Published by under Uncategorized

I detailed some of the ways that my generation of scientist had been screwed in a well received prior post.

Today I thought about another factor. Scientific impact of a scientist is captured by paper citations, which is related to the number of people working within a sphere of investigation. A given scientist's reputation can be burnished by the number of publishing scientists that he or she is respected by and viewed by as a thought leader. 
Scientific progeny are a key factor. The trainees that exit out labs, gain faculty positions and start up vigorous publication trains very frequently boost our own reputations.
When the odds of trainees becoming traditional, independent, academic research scientists are lower for a generation of mentoring scientists, this will cripple the apparent importance and influence of that generation. 
How convenient for the Boomers.

9 responses so far

Repost: An Honor Codes' Second Component and Research Science

Aug 12 2015 Published by under Uncategorized

This was originally posted October 4, 2007.

Many academic honor codes boil down to two essential statements, namely "I will not cheat and I will not tolerate those who do". For "cheat" you may read any number of disreputable activities including plagiarism and research fraud. My alma mater had this sort of thing, I know the US military academies have this. Interestingly a random Google brings up some which include both components (Davidson College, Notre Dames, Florida State Univ (which as been in the academic cheating news lately), and some which do not (CU Boulder, Baylor); Wikipedia entry has a bunch of snippet Honor Codes. The first component, i.e. "don't cheat" is easily comprehended and followed. The second component, the " I will not tolerate those who do" part is the tricky one. Continue Reading »

12 responses so far

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