Image: This mobile, hanging in my office, was given to me by my friend Mary Harris when I got tenure. It’s driftwood from the Skunk River in Iowa. I’d just gotten tenure, and it’s made of dead wood – get it?
A rather poorly-executed and very poorly-communicated study made a big splash last week, with the claim that half of all ecologists “drop out” of the field within just 5 years. The many, many flaws in this way of measuring and communicating people’s career trajectories have been thrashed out in other places, so I’ll just note for the record that by the paper’s critera, I myself have “dropped out” of the field.* Continue reading
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
(This is a lightly edited version of a post that originally ran in January 2015. But you probably didn’t see it then.)
Here’s a problem you might not have thought of: did you know you can submit and publish a paper with a coauthor who’s deceased, but not with one who’s in a coma and might recover?
A lot of people have never thought of this, and a lot don’t think it’s a problem worth worrying about. Please bear with me, though, because I think it’s a more important problem than most of us realize – but also one that’s easily avoided.
The unavailable-coauthor problem is actually more general than my coma example. Continue reading
Image: Recycling logo by gustavorezende, released to public domain
Warning: long post. There’s a TL;DR in the Summary at the end.
Is recycling Methods text from an old paper, to use in a new paper that applies the same techniques, efficient writing – or self-plagiarism?
We’ve all had the dilemma. You write two papers that use (at least some of) the same methods. For the first paper, you craft a lovely, succinct, clear explanation of those methods. For the second paper, you’d like to just cut-and-paste the Methods text from the first one. Can you? And should you? Continue reading
It happened to me again, a few weeks ago: a manuscript I’d had high hopes for came back from the journal with a decision of “reject, but with an invitation to resubmit”. It’s better than a flat-out reject, to be sure, but disappointing nonetheless.
There’s a widespread belief – almost a conspiracy theory – that journals use “reject, but resubmit” as a device to cheat on their handling time statistics (by which we mostly mean time from submission to first acceptance). After all, if a manuscript gets “revision”, the clock keeps ticking from the original submission; but “reject, but resubmit” means we can pretend the resubmission is a brand new manuscript and start the clock over. Clever but deceptive move, right? Continue reading
As of two weeks ago, I’ve published 76 peer-reviewed papers, and I’ve published them with 114 different coauthors. Among those coauthors are my graduate and undergraduate students, my colleagues, my friends, my wife – and quite a few people I’ve never met. Continue reading
Warning: astonishingly trivial
Three weeks ago I showed you my Journal Life List, and I invented the Journal Diversity Index (J/P, where my P papers have appeared in J different journals). A lot of you liked that and calculated your own JDIs, and I don’t know that we learned anything profound, but it was fun and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But I can never leave well enough alone. Continue reading
Image: © (claimed) Terrance Heath, CC BY-NC 2.0
“How good a manuscript”, I’m sometimes asked, “is good enough to submit”? It’s a natural enough question. A manuscript heading for peer review isn’t the finished product. It’s virtually certain that reviewers will ask for changes, often very substantial ones – so why waste time perfecting material that’s going to end up in the wastebasket anyway? Continue reading
I enjoy watching birds, but I don’t keep a life list. I don’t keep a life list for anything, really, which might surprise people who know how data-nerdy I am. The exception: the journals I’ve published in. I don’t really know why I track this, but for some reason I find it fun. (To be honest, I’m kind of proud of it and I celebrate each new addition, but I can’t tell you why and I have a sneaking suspicion that I shouldn’t*).
So here’s my list as of today: Continue reading
I recently learned about Peer Community In (PCI), a new system for reviewing and recommending preprints. I’m really intrigued. It’s true that I’m an old fuddy-duddy who’s on record as saying that we often exaggerate the problems with the status quo, and as not liking to think outside the box. And yet there are good reasons to think it might be good to have other ways beyond traditional journals to disseminate science. We should experiment with a variety of new systems, and PCI seems like one well worth exploring. Read on to learn more!
What follows is a guest post by Denis Bourguet (email@example.com), Benoit Facon (firstname.lastname@example.org), Thomas Guillemaud (email@example.com), and Ruth Hufbauer (firstname.lastname@example.org). DB, BF, and TG are the founders of PCI, and RH is a colleague and member of the board of PCI Evol Biol.
We believe that the current system of publishing with academic journals suffers from four crucial problems. First, Continue reading