Why do people feel the need to go out in enormous groups for meals? And then want to sit at a table for 16? or even 10? The wait for a table is longer. The service takes forever (and at lunch, you are inevitably late the next session). You end up only talking to the 2-3 people right around you. I understand that young ‘uns want to go out with Big Dogs. I understand that someone is insecure and needs a crowd. But whatever your goal may be, you will do better in a group of 4.
It is always OK to go up to someone, introduce yourself and ask a question. If they are rude to you, they are not worth knowing, and you can just read their papers. I go to meetings to talk to young scientists.
Why is coffee not always available? We run on coffee.
Why does one BSD always feel that its time to take some poor young student down a notch? Why does he need to say “It makes me angry when you do what you did”? why can’t he say “when you go to publish this, consider changing XYZ, it will make the study stronger”? [more on this later, worthy of a whole post]
Do Millenials realize that when they end every statement on a rising pitch that it sounds like they questioning their results, their ability, and everything else they say? Yes, I know that New Zealanders and Canadians talk that way normally, but its not quite the same.
I’m just getting old and grumpy.
In the recent problems with Maria, there was much concern, sound and fury about what was happening and who knew what when and everything else, including the potential for world peace.
There is a fundemental tension here. Many of the jr faculty in Maria’s dept (and other related depts) had lots of questions about What Was Happening. Was this because Maria is female? Why did she not get more time, more acknowledgement for her achievements? A lot of was said about transparency and the lack thereof and how all of this reduced morale in jr. faculty.
The tension comes in Maria’s right to confidentiality in this process. She did say quite a lot (which is her right), although much was her perception, and not necessarily that of the promo committee. But when people went to her chair, and to the chair of the school’s promo comittee demanding information, there was a line drawn. To discuss, with anybody, any of the deliberations that applied to Maria was considered, and is, inappropriate.
Junior faculty need transparency. They need to know how to process works, what happens at each step, and the importance of various components of their portfolio. They need to know that the steps and processes are applied equally. Knowing the details of any person’s process and outcome may be something others want, but it is not going to happen. We, as scientists, mentors and human beings, have to make decsions about the priorities of rights.
I recently went to the meeting of the clinical society related to my research. Its a speciality meeting, small, and a variety of kinds of clinicians. There are a few basic sceintists, but the emphasis is clearly on clinical research and translation of results to patient
One thing shocked me, shocked I say. At the editorial board meeting, I was surprised at the number of people who had no concept of what OA is. They did not understand the difference of paying to have an article available immediately in a Springer or Verlag journal and publishing in an OA journal (which most of the big sci publishers run). They did not understand how preditory OA journals differ from PLosOne, either.
People with a small clue told stories – the guy who founded his own journal to boost his CV, the person who paid $5K for nothing, in the end. People were disbelieving. Does this really happen, they asked.
The evangelists have their work cut out for them.
My parents, who were devout agnostics, had many friends with, what were at that time, the 50′s, equally weird views. My parents had worked for Adlai Stevenson, with the view that a General (Eisenhower), no matter how “beloved” was not necessarily a good leader for the United States.
Thus, for my godparents, people who were supposed to guide my spiritual development, they asked good friends of theirs, the Anastopolos. It was not until much later that I learned about George’s history (and we called them George and Sarah), although lots of this history happened while I was a child. Several elegant eulogies have been published. Here is his blog. He was a fighter for the first amendment, before fighting for the first amendment was cool.
After talking with a few junior people, with a variety scores ranging from outstanding (4%) to frustrating (20%) to yucky (40%) to triaged, I had a couple of thoughts about managing study section. These are things to which I have alluded or outright said in the past. Or someone else said. But are worth saying. again.
One of the most important things a PI needs to do in the proposal is persuade the reviewers that they love the proposal. The goal of writing a proposal is to turn your reviewers in advocates for your proposal. The reviewers need to believe in the proposal (and to a lesser extent in you). They need to think that it is critical to fund this work, for the field and for NIH’s mission. These days, you need two advocates. One advocate in the face of two nay-sayers, or two luke-warm-sayers, looks like an outlier.
It cannot be said too many times – when you resubmit think carefully about what you chose to argue with. Big things (changing from an animal model to a human clinical situation, for example, or from Parkinson’s disease to stroke) are worth fighting against, especially if you have a track record in the original model/disease. If the reviews suggest a “lack of enthusiasm”, get a senior person to help you assess whether the lack of enthusiasm stems from the model system or from the hypotheses/etc or something else.
But if the objections are a suite of small things – change the response variables you are measuring, the number of experiments you do, even what treatments or interventions you’re proposing – CHANGE them. Remember grants are grants not contracts. You can *still* measure what you want as well as what they want. As one of the wise young faculty said to me: you can be right and proud and unfunded, or you can acknowledge that maybe the reviewers might know something and change the proposal and be funded.
I perceive lots of seeing the study section as your enemy, as full of greybeards and bluehairs bent on preserving their status and the funding of their friends. This is a huge mistake. If you write while harboring the thought that you are fighting the system, it will be in your proposal, in your response, in a thousand little things that someone will notice. No one will want to be your advocate. Most of the gb/bh’s are not as evil as presented in the blogosphere. Lots are really trying to help in the little ways that they can. Many take the time to be on study section so they can do what they can in a system they’d like to change. You might actually learn something from them. Learning what advice is worthwhile is not just a valuable skill, it is a survival skill.
A NYTimes article on racism on campus contained this quote [emphasis mine]:
Charles Tkacik, a freshman at Johnson & Wales University in North Miami, Fla., who is white, said in an email that while public demonstrations of racism were rare at his university, “there is a deep layer of contempt and hatred among a percentage of students toward other races.”
“Some students believe certain races to be ‘dirty, noisy and rude,’ ” Mr. Tkacik wrote.
A long time ago, I went to a fancy party at a fancy club for members of my department and spouses. My colleague, a person of color, brought her husband, who like every other person had dressed up. I cringed when someone said, the next day “Your husband is so clean and neat”. I wanted to do something, say something, but my colleague said no. I am duck she said, and this rolls off my back. Anger turned to sadness.
The article also says:
In the news media and in popular culture, the notion persists that millennials — born after the overt racial debates and divisions that shaped their parents’ lives — are growing up in a colorblind society
Colorblind? No, racism has just become more subtle, more insidious and more pernicious. (although thats the same thing as subtle and insidious). Listen to what people say:
Alex Ngo, 21, who is majoring in communications, rejected the notion of colorblindness. “When I hear people say, ‘We’re all people, we’re all human, I don’t see color,’ to me that means, ‘I don’t see you, you don’t exist,’ ” he said.
While there has been progress, there is far to go before we sleep.