Why to talk to the media: Turtle edition

Academics are like turtles, pulling their heads in when reporters come knocking. An article in last week’s Chronicle of Higher Education has the best metaphor for this syndrome that I’ve heard: Scientists become turtles. They’re discouraged from media relations, and thus never get better at it, and they don’t think it’s their job.  As author Michael Munger, professor of political science at Duke...

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In defense of the science stimulus

In their Huffington Post blog, Todd Palmer (University of Florida) and Rob Pringle (Stanford/Harvard Fellow) took on Paul Basken of the Chronicle of Higher Education last week, who was interviewed on NPR’s Marketplace.  Palmer and Pringle say that Basken didn’t defend science’s place in the stimulus bill (formally the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), even going so far as to suggest that the money...

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‘Nature’ requires responsible party

Nature announced today that it is modifying its authorship policies for submission to its journals. The two major changes are that one senior author will be required to take “responsibility” for the paper, and that an explicit list of each coauthor’s role in the paper must be submitted. In a November 2007 editorial, the leadership at Nature suggested that a senior or corresponding author on every paper be required to...

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Environment: Elbowed out by recession

In mid-February, George Will, resident Washington Post conservative and climate-skeptic, wrote an editorial denouncing “Dark Green Doomsayers.” The editorial was filled with anecdotal references of news articles from the 1970′s that declare widespread climate cooling and exclaim that the world will soon find itself in the next ice age. The piece outraged the environmental community and sparked a flurry of internet...

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Wikipedia: A scientific and educational opportunity

Emilio Bruna of the University of Florida wanted to assign students in his graduate seminar on plant -animal interactions something different than a term paper.  So he devised a novel plan that would help them learn some crucial concepts while writing concisely: rewriting Wikipedia entries.  I caught up with Emilio and student Kristine Callis, who is the first author of their resulting Trends in Ecology and Evolution paper, to learn...

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A realistic map of scientific thought

Tracking citation data (i.e., which papers cite which other papers) has traditionally been the method for understanding the interconnectivity of different fields and subfields of research. But in the age when most researchers access their information online, the printed word can sometimes be years out of date. In a paper published this week in Public Library of Science ONE (PLoS ONE), Johan Bollen of the Los Alamos National Laboratory...

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