Monthly Archives: August 2018

“Latin” names that aren’t Latin

Image: Razorbill (Alca torda), photo S. Heard.

(This is a lightly edited version of a post that originally ran in March 2015. But you probably didn’t see it then.)

If you’ve been hanging around here for a while, you’ll know that I have something of an obsession with Latin names.  Or, I should say, “Latin” names.  As my pedantic friend Alex has pointed out to me repeatedly and correctly, what I’ve been calling “Latin names” all my life (for instance, here, here, and here) are not always Latin at all. As Alex points out, “scientific names” is a more accurate term (although I still use “Latin name” here on Scientist Sees Squirrel; here’s why).

While a large fraction of Latin names have Latin derivations, there are examples of names based on words from many, many languages (although  their form is generally Latinized.)  Greek is, unsurprisingly, the next most common; but there are many less obvious ones. So I thought it would be fun to dig up some good examples, and I present them here in the form of a quiz. Continue reading

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Do I work for the Class that pays me? (guest post)

Image: Kya Sands/Bloubosrand by Johnny Miller used with permission.

This is a guest post by Artem Kaznatcheev, a researcher in the Department of Computer Science at Oxford University and the Department of Translational Hematology and Oncology at the Cleveland Clinic.  Artem also blogs as part of the Theory, Evolution, and Games Group.  I’m pleased to have this post, which pushes back in a very interesting direction against one of my posts from last year.  Read on!

At the end of last year, Stephen Heard wrote that he doesn’t work for the people that pay him. He wrote in his usual positive tone and focus. A positivity that has me coming back to this blog regularly. In particular, he pointed out that his work as an ecologist has a positive impact all over the world. Thus he is not working for the taxpayers of New Brunswick, but for people all over the world. He generalized this to all of scientific progress:

There’s an implicit global contract, I think, that having science progress is good for us, and that having universities helps science progress. Also part of this implicit contract is the idea that this is best done by everyone funding universities and setting scientists loose – rather than by New Brunswick funding a university with scientists who work only on New Brunswick problems, and likewise for other jurisdictions. The phenomenal progress of modern science, and its international connectedness, suggest that this implicit contract has worked very, very well.

He concluded with a reflection on the dangers of taking this global focus away from universities. And that he is unapologetic about not working for the people that pay him. Stephen was positive about the good that science does for the everyone, not just those that pay him.

But in this case, he found this positive tone by focusing on geographic divisions and geopolitical boundaries. He suggested that science often transcends these. I think this is probably correct, but — given my curmudgeon nature — I don’t think it is the most relevant division. Continue reading

Tweeting Science to Policymakers

At the 2018 conference of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution, 5 friends and I put on a workshop on the use of Twitter in science.  Today: linking to slides and commentary from Dawn Bazely’s piece of the #CSEETweetShop.  How can you use Twitter to communicate science to policymakers?

Dawn has a long history and considerable success reaching out to policymakers and influencing science policy.  Her contribution to #CSEETweetShop explored the contribution of Twitter (and related media) to policy engagement.  And, because we need practical steps even to get started, she explained how to spot policymakers in the wild. They, she told us, are the people wearing suits!

 You can find Dawn’s slides and commentary on her own blog; please visit and read over there!  This page is really just a placeholder so that all six pieces can eventually be tied together on Scientist Sees Squirrel.

Thanks, Dawn!


Previously, in this series:

 

The Disco Era of scientific writing

Image: Saturday Night Fever. If you were alive in the 1970s, you probably owned this album.  Acme401 CC BY-SA 2.0 via flickr.com

From doo-wop to hip-hop, popular music has always evolved.  Styles shift, and when a song you don’t know comes on the radio* you can often place it, temporally, without much trouble.  Rock & roll, punk, new wave, indie folk, and dozens of other styles have come (and mostly gone); similarly, the styles that dominate airplay now will surely fade and be replaced. (Sorry, Taylor.) Occasionally, popular music has had a really bad idea, and we’ve all piled onto it, only to shake our heads ruefully a decade later.  Yes, disco, I’m talking about you**.

Scientific writing has also evolved.  Continue reading

How do successful academics write? Helen Sword’s “Air & Light & Time & Space” (review)

Helen Sword’s latest book, Air & Light & Time & Space, has a subtitle to make every academic salivate:  How Successful Academics Write.  Who among us wouldn’t like to know that secret?  Who wouldn’t like to know how academics can write more productively, and at the same time, take more pleasure from writing?  Continue reading

Twitter considerations and tips at conferences

At the 2018 conference of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution, 5 friends and I put on a workshop on the use of Twitter in science.  Today: slides and commentary from Shoshanah Jacobs’ piece of the #CSEETweetShop.  How can you use Twitter in connection with a conference, to increase the reach of your science and of others’?

I’d like you to reflect for a moment about all the things that your body had to do over the last few days to get it to where you are sitting now. Perhaps you took a flight, perhaps you used public transportation, perhaps you maxed out your credit card, waiting for a reimbursement. Maybe more importantly: who isn’t here with us, and why? Continue reading

How long should you wait before nudging the journal about your manuscript in review?

Image: “Waiting”, Edgar Degas, circa 1882 (pastel on paper). Collection of the Getty Center, Los Angeles.  Public domain.

I’m sure it’s happened to you.  It’s happened to me.  With excitement, you punch the “submit” button, and celebrate your manuscript being off your desk and into peer review.  And then you wait.  And wait.  And you wait some more.  Sometimes, it feels like you’re waiting forever.  When that happens, is it appropriate to e-mail the journal office to ask what’s holding things up?  And if so, how long should you wait? Continue reading