The Straightforward Academic (or: Your advisor also poops)

This entry is part of a summer series over at the wonderful My Scholarly Goop, featuring true tales of early career researchers’ scholarly paths. Read my contribution here, and head over to the series to get a new essay each Friday, the whole summer long.

Not pursuing a PhD was, frankly, never part of my thought process. My parents are both researchers (albeit, in Biophysics and Physical Chemistry), and I grew up spending Sunday afternoons in the lab proudly reproducing the Briggs-Rauscher reaction in my own little lab coat while my parents were working. I’m a bit like the medical doctor who became a doctor because her parents are also MDs. You could say I tried to be a bit different and decided to become an opthamologist instead of a dermatologist, but that’s really about how crazy I went. Continue reading The Straightforward Academic (or: Your advisor also poops)

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The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing

Naomi Havron is currently a postdoc at the LSCP in Paris, France. She is investigating syntactic adaptation and syntactic category learning in children and infants.

I spent four years writing my thesis, four years of ups and downs, p values smaller than .05, but also some t values smaller than .05. At times, I felt confident and optimistic, at times less so – this was somewhat correlated with the p values, but not significantly so.

Then it came time to start gathering everything I did into an article thesis. In the Hebrew University, at least in my year, not all of these articles had to be published articles, and you could also include manuscripts you did not plan to submit for publication. I thought I would write up everything, even my null results, because whoever reads my dissertation (well, at least all those 1st year PhD students and my grandfather) could probably learn just as much from my failed attempts than from my success stories. Continue reading The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing

Shouting from the ivory tower: SciComm for beginners

This week, I am tweeting not from my own account, but from the science communication “rocur” (rotating curator) account realsci_DE, the German version of realscientists. This is the latest instance of a few experiences in talking about science and my work as a scientist to a non-expert audience, and I’ve learned a great deal from and about this in the past. So I thought I’d share a few insights that I had along the way (fun fact: there are no natural born communicators, it all needs practice).

First tell me how this helps scientists!

Continue reading Shouting from the ivory tower: SciComm for beginners

We Stand in Solidarity with Scientists Across the Globe

Two weeks ago, I came back to the US after my holiday trip to Germany and France. This moment when you stand in front of the frosty immigration officer who makes you press all your fingers onto the dirty glass of the fingerprinting scanner, takes a webcam photo of your travel-exhausted face, and then scrutinizes your papers. This moment alone always makes me feel like an illegitimate intruder. But of course, it always goes well for me. This last time the immigration officer, still with her poker face on, noticed that my visa would run out in 3 months. Yes, I said hurriedly, I need to reapply. Ever wondered why they make you do this, the officer asked. I looked at her, slightly alarmed. To make a shitload of money out of you, she said, looked up, and smiled a friendly smile. I also smiled, relieved. We both laughed, and that is how I re-entered the United States of America.

Continue reading We Stand in Solidarity with Scientists Across the Globe

An interview with a next generation methodological freedom fighter

Meet Anne Scheel, PhD candidate at LMU Munich. She stood up and asked the author of the opinion piece on “methodological terrorism” for a statement after her keynote at the DGPS conference. Since tough questions in front of big audiences by young women are still a rare thing to encounter at conferences (and elsewhere), we were curious to know how this went down for her. And of course, we also took the opportunity to discuss the content of the piece in question. Continue reading An interview with a next generation methodological freedom fighter

Critical culture

Criticism, and how to (not) do it has been a hotly discussed topic. For example, there is a very useful three-point guide by Uri Simonsohn how to handle criticism in a civil way. If you do science, you will be criticized at some point and you will have to criticize others. After all, our whole peer review system hinges on picking out all that might be wrong. Not everyone knows how to give and handle feedback, actually, and it’s really very hard sometimes (and this is for example an integral part of science woman’s origin story). Some people might spend their whole scientific career never learning anything about being constructive, be it as recipient or criticizer. Continue reading Critical culture

Speaking my Microagression Story (even though I’m almost WEIRD)

I started thinking about writing this blog entry when I first read about the speakyourstory initiative in this insightful Nature column a few months ago. This initiative raises awareness of microagression in the form of subtle sexism in the world of research. Subtle sexism is often less obvious both to its initiators and recipients than overt sexism, but can nevertheless be quite harmful – or I should say could be harmful, since we know amazingly little about its real effects. Microagressive comments are, of course, not restricted to sexism, but to an abundance of topics people can be – often unintentionally – biased about (read more here or here).

Continue reading Speaking my Microagression Story (even though I’m almost WEIRD)

Kickstarting a Plotting Revolution

A while ago our resident ExpeRt Page blogged about the disadvantages of bar plots when plotting distributions, accompanied by this summary graphic.

This post not only generated a lot of online reactions (>200 retweets already – for our standards that’s close to breaking the internet!), but also a lot of discussion among colleagues in the lab. And indeed, while plotting might seem like something you just to in addition to the actual analysis, doing it the right way is arguably as important as analyzing the right way since, after all, the figures are the things most of us look at when we try to understand the results of an article.

Continue reading Kickstarting a Plotting Revolution

The Stereotype Trap

StereotypeMetaLab.png

That women in science and in the professional world in general are subject to gender biases with real consequences (lower pay, less career opportunities) goes without saying. In this context, I find it important to be aware of how easy it is to be biased myself. Not in order to justify, but to better understand. I have recently made two experiences with my own and fellow female researchers’ biases, in situations where I somewhat slipped into a man’s skin.

Continue reading The Stereotype Trap

On Gating Research

ResearchGate.png

ResearchGate – a social networking site for researchers to interact, connect, and to share papers and knowledge. Since its foundation in 2008, it has by now a (self-reported) 8 million users, and its press coverage has been mostly positive. Interestingly, the rather enthusiastic press articles are contrasting with more critical voices from inside the research community (for instance here or here). Main points of criticism are

Continue reading On Gating Research