Archive for the 'Life' category

It's not you, it's me.

Jul 08 2014 Published by under Careers, Life

We had something great. It really was. Great. And productive!


I didn't pay attention like I should have. I didn't do those little things. I became... complacent.

I'm sorry.

I've changed. Grown. I've moved on. I enjoy different things.

I'm... I'm seeing different people.

You should too.

And please...


Stop listing me as a fucking preferred reviewer!

5 responses so far

No advice on surviving the TT

Jul 03 2014 Published by under Careers, Life

There's a lot of advice that can be given on surviving your tenure track years. The single most important IMNSHO is to learn how and when to say...


Junior faculty often have a hard time with this. They worry that saying no too often will make them look like poor colleagues and hurt their tenure chances. Certainly saying no to everything will do that. But saying yes to everything will also hurt your tenure odds. You won't have enough time to work on all that other stuff (grants, papers, teaching, more grants, more papers, more teaching, etc.).

And yet, junior folk will be asked to perform service (sit on committees etc.).* Especially if they're women. Especially if they're people of color. And if you're a woman of color? You'll be asked to serve on every imaginable committee.

How much is enough, how do you choose which things to do, and how do you say no to everything else?

In terms of how much is enough, ask. Often. Find yourself a senior faculty mentor if you don't already have one.** Ask them. Ask your chair. Do some digging and try to find out how much service work recently tenured folks did. It's really not hard to get ahold of people's cv's - they're often posted online. Or you could simply ask them.

What you choose to do is largely up to you. Yes, there will be those occasions when your chair/dean/senior person will ask you to sit on a certain committee because "it will be good for you"/"you're the right person"/they just need a warm body and everyone else said no. But you really do have a lot of control here. Say yes to those things that you care about and/or you think are important.

How do you say no? That's actually much easier than you might initially think. "I would, but I've already agreed to do x, y, and z." "That sounds like a great opportunity, but unfortunately it overlaps with [insert essential task(s) here]." "My mentor thinks I'm already doing enough/too much service and has told me to say no to everything else." *** Even "The tenure clock is ticking too quickly, I don't feel I have enough publications and/or funding, so I'm going to have to decline."

Yes, they're going to try to guilt/shame/beat you into doing things you don't want to and/or shouldn't be doing. Be strong. And polite. But still say no. Especially if you think what you're being asked to do is not suitable for someone without tenure.

Learn to say no. You'll thank me.


* I talk about service/committees here for simplicity. Learning how and when to say no is useful for many other things you'll encounter on the TT (e.g. unwanted collaborators).
** I cannot stress how important this is to your survival of the TT. Find someone who will be completely honest with you. Who will have your back if necessary. It's nice if their work is related to yours, but that's not as important as the previous two criteria. Really.
*** A good mentor will do this for you. And will take the heat.

2 responses so far

Everybody Hates You: Academia

Jun 17 2014 Published by under Careers, Life

Administrators that think adjunct faculty are a good idea.

Dinosaur graybeards who maintain the status quo.

Faculty who haven't updated their teaching in fifteen years.

Faculty who won't admit academia and the research funding situation have changed dramatically, and continue to do so rapidly.

Faculty who only train future faculty.

Faculty who treat department staff like dirt.

Faculty who treat their lab personnel like dirt.

Postdocs who think they've got it all figured out.

Grad students who think a PhD is a given.

Entitled undergrads.

The third reviewer.


I've barely scratched the surface with the above. Go hog wild in the comments.

31 responses so far

Everybody hates you.

Jun 16 2014 Published by under Life

People who drive in the left lane on the highway at or below the speed of people driving in the right lane.

People who hold prolonged conversations in front of the coffee pot.

People who get to the front of a long line at the coffee shop/food place and then take their time deciding what to order.

People who don't use turn signals.

People who take carry on bags on board the plane when the bags clearly aren't going to fit anywhere.

People who reply to listserv emails asking to unsubscribe.

People who reply to people who reply to listserv emails asking to unsubscribe.


Feel free to add you own in the comments. A version of this especially for academia is coming soon, so you may want to hold off on relevant comments until then.

11 responses so far

NSF talks the talk, but walking the walk?

Apr 17 2014 Published by under Careers, Life

NSF is big on promoting diversity. It's expected in the broader impacts of proposals. It's a big part of their CAREER awards. It's a major thrust of their REU programs. The NSF really wants its funded investigators to play a role in making STEM a much more diverse enterprise.

But then they go and do this...

[UPDATE] If you would like to nominate someone - and more nominations is one way to overcome this - here's the NSFs web page on the award.

No responses yet

That's the best you could find Mother Jones?

Mar 28 2014 Published by under Life

So this link to a Mother Jones article on Ethan Perlstein and his "postdocalypse" went through my twit feed this morning. I'm not going to discuss the content here.*

Look at the stock photo at the top of the article. Clearly meant to be an MD. For an article about PhDs.

Really, Mother Jones? Really? That's the best you could come up with?


* Feel free to have at it in the comments if you like.

7 responses so far

Journal of Proteomics, what the...?!?!?!?!?

Mar 21 2014 Published by under Careers, Life

Since posting this, Elsevier has responded that the images will be removed. Hopefully they will also put mechanisms in place to ensure this doesn't occur again.

This morning via the twits I became aware of two graphical abstracts published by the Journal of Proteomics. You can find them here and here.

What the fuck?!?!?

Who the hell at the journal, publisher (I'm looking at you Elsevier), and European Proteomics Association thinks this is okay?

Stop it. And get rid of those images.

[UPDATE] The Lab and Field has already posted on this. Also, author of those two papers gave this reply to a complaint from @madamscientist.

[UPDATE 2] Jonathan Eisen weighed in on his blog and with a storify.

[UPDATE 3} And based on the journal EIC's response to Joshua Drew, it's not hard to see how these images were allowed to be published. Full text of this nopology here.

4 responses so far

Revenue streams

Mar 10 2014 Published by under Life

The typical university has but three to five major streams of revenue*:

1) If it's a state institution, state $'s.

2) Tuition.

3) If it has a medical school, clinical $'s.

4) Indirect cost $'s from Federal grants.

5) Endowment/donation $'s.

If any one of those is insufficient to cover related costs, the other streams are tapped to make up the difference. They can flow in all directions to account for fluctuations in each stream. Simple, right?

Problem is at least three - often four - of those revenue streams are declining at many universities. And one of those, indirect costs, hasn't pulled its weight for a long time, if ever.

Bit of a problem, eh?

* Yes, I know intellectual property income isn't listed. For the majority of universities that doesn't count as a major source of income.

3 responses so far

Due diligence

Mar 10 2014 Published by under Life

A number of recent happenings (to name just two the PLoS data sharing mandate and tweets that led to @MyTChondria's guest post over at DrugMonkey's joint) have got me thinking...

It really is remarkable how many academics - people who are supposed to be intelligent deep thinkers - simply don't do their due diligence before wading into things. To be fair I've been guilty of this myself sometimes,* but the number of times people have recently made assertions with absolute certainty that they know the TR00TH!!!!!!!! without appearing to have actually thought about and done some rudimentary research into the issue at hand has me shaking my head.

People, think about things. Ask questions. Be informed. It's not that hard. It's what we do for a career. Right?

I'm not suggesting we know every little detail. Sometimes that's well nigh impossible. But at least make the effort to know enough to make informed decisions/comments/arguments.

It's not just that we do this kind of thing for a career. As @MyTChondria has alluded to, sometimes these things determine whether or not we will continue to have a career.

* Likely an embarrassing number of times, but this is my soapbox.

No responses yet

NIH vs. NSF: what's the difference if you're a minority?

Jan 17 2014 Published by under Careers, Life

There's a great thread and discussion going on over at DrugMonkey's about the Ginther report and how minorities are being screwed over in the NIH grant game. If you haven't already, go read it.

It's clear that there's a strong bias against people of color (POC) somewhere in the review process. How else to explain a 50% higher rate of triage/not discussed? I don't have anything substantive to offer to the discussion right now beyond some more data.

The NSF send reports on their merit review process to the National Science Board every now and then.* The 2012 report, which covers fiscal year 2011, can be found here (pdf). There's a lot of really interesting stuff included within this report, including some demographic/funding success data (Appendix 3).

Here's Appendix 3:**

Appendix 3
(Click to enlarge)

Interesting. Minorities still suffer, but perhaps not as much as at NIH. Why? What is it about the NSF that leads to slightly better (albeit still not good) agreement between the funding rates of minority PI's versus white PI's?***

Have a read and think about it. As noted by DrugMonkey in a conversation on the twits yesterday, we're talking death by a thousand cuts here. There won't be one simple explanation.

* Thanks to Bashir for his post here which prompted me to dig up this report.

** Also have a look at NSF reviewer (page 29) and Program Officers (page 32) of the report.

*** It may not be better really. We're not comparing the same sorts of numbers here.

No responses yet

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