Mind Games 2.0

Bloggin' 'bout science and life

Category: Science (Page 1 of 6)

More Words of Wisdom From A Past Leader

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The Maximum Impact Factor Measure

I used to be the Editor-in-Chief of the American Naturalist, one of the oldest scientific journals in North America.  The American Naturalist published its first issue two years before Charles Darwin published the Origin of Species, and I think that AmNat, as it’s affectionately called, is the world’s best journal for papers in evolution (and ecology and behavior). 

Today, our Managing Editor, Trish Morse, brought to my attention some of the best evidence of AmNat‘s significance.  AmNat is number 113 on the list of sources most cited by the Oxford English Dictionary.  Only 6 other scientific publications are ahead of us on the list.  That seems like a much better measure of the importance of a scientific journal’s contribution to knowledge than Impact Factors or other so-called measures of importance. 

AmNat, at 113, is two ahead of Robert Burns (pretty impressive) at 115 and behind Ayenbite of Inwyt at 112. Who or what is Ayenbite of Inwyt you ask?  Look it up!

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Where Does It Say That Evolution Does Not Happen?

I was sitting in church a couple of weeks back on Christmas Eve waiting for the service to start.  As I usually do to pass the time, I picked up the Bible (what else are you going to do in church?), and I had a revelation about what I work on – namely evolution.    

This revelation came to me in the form of a simple question.  Where in the Bible does it say that evolution does not happen?

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Do Scientists Really Need Certificates Of Participation Just To Do Their Jobs Now?

Today I was submitting a review of a manuscript to a British scientific journal.  This is a routine part of any scientist’s job.  Participating in the peer review system is probably the most important community activity that keeps science working.  Peer review is the best part of the scientific process.  

I went to the journal’s website to submit my review as always.  What startled and exacerbated me, and what sparked this post, was the first question I was asked at the submission website.  The journal wanted to know if I wanted my reviewing activity to be noted for all the world to see on Publons.  

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The Best Statistical Software For A Scientist To Use

I am now planning the next offering of a Generalized Linear Mixed Models course that I sometimes teach to our graduate students.  I’m teaching the next offering next spring.  All our graduate students are clamoring for a course in R, and I am sure I’ll get much pressure to teach this course using R. 

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Valuable Advice About Editing And Teaching In General

Posted by The Baltimore Sun on Thursday, September 8, 2016

This is hugely valuable advice.  If one is to teach what students need to know, one really has to just simply do it!

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Did Hutchinson Think Niches Were Non-Interesting?

One of the foundational concepts in modern ecology is the formulation of the “niche” by G. Evelyn Hutchinson. Hutchinson defined his conception of the niche famously as an “N-dimensional hypervolume” of environmental variables that describe where a species can maintain a population.  You can find a (pirated) pdf of this seminal paper here or the Cold Spring Harbor site if your conscience is bothering you and want to pay for it because you don’t have a library subscription.

When I read this paper in graduate school, I was dumbfounded to find one of the most glaring typographical errors I had ever seen in the scientific literature.  In this paper, the plain text on the page says that the realized niches of co-occurring species are non-interesting.  

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American Society of Naturalists Presidential Address 2016

Here’s the Presidential Address I gave at the 2016 American Society of Naturalists annual meeting in Austin, Texas.

 

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Are We Really In An Economic Apocalypse?

Given that the Republican Convention speakers last week all argued that the Obama Administration has destroyed the economy, I was curious what facts might exist to support such claims. As somebody who lives his life according to the creed “Show Me The Data”, I wanted to see for myself just how bad job growth has been during the Obama Administration. ( I didn’t want to hear some business reporter who never took a math or statistics class tell me.)

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Is There A Best Way To Choose A PhD Dissertation Topic?

For every new graduate student, the first major headache is what their dissertation will be about. In many areas of science, graduate students have very little choice. The laboratory leader essentially assigns a topic to the student, based on funding requirements and the laboratory structure.

However, in ecology, evolution and behavior, most laboratories still work on the principle that each graduate student must develop their own thesis topic.  Of course this is done in consultation with their dissertation supervisor, and it is often closely associated with other research that is being done by others in the laboratory.  It may even form a part of the larger project of the laboratory.  However, the student must develop the questions.  In this post, I want to discuss the two main ways that students in these disciplines approach this most important of problems for them.

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