Archive for the 'Careers' category


Feb 20 2017 Published by under Careers, Life

We all like some. Admit it. You like it when people positively acknowledge something you've done, especially something you've poured your heart and soul into. This is something I've been thinking about for a while. A recent post by In Baby Attach Mode prompted me to put some of those thoughts down here.

As noted in the above mentioned post by IBAM, you don't go the extra mile in science for the recognition. That way lies disappointment. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't receive it.

Or give it.

Especially give it. You want the best out of your lab personnel? Make them feel like a valued part of your team. Give recognition when they excel. When they put in extra effort.* Even if the experiment fails.

You may think this is all fluffy stuff,** but the power of recognition has been noted in business for some time. Ever thought about why businesses hold family picnics? Have employee of the month awards? Organize employee discounts at other businesses etc.? The underlying premise is making employees feel valued leads to happier employees which in turn leads to more invested, productive employees.*** In academia, we have a tendency to immediately dismiss "business practices" on the grounds that academia is not, and should not be run as, a business. That's a pity, because businesses deal with many of the same issues we do daily.

Giving recognition does have to involve awards or the monetary outlay associated with meals. A simple verbal recognition works.

Already giving recognition within your group? Great! Now go further. What about that grad student in the lab next door who just published a paper? The colleague who landed a grant? Or, for that matter, managed to get a score on an NIH proposal?

How about the staff in your department? They get precious little in the way of positive feedback. All too often they're on the receiving end of faculty ire. Usually undeservedly.

Our world could use a bit more positive recognition.



* Not to be confused with requiring them to work insane hours and not have a life outside the lab. AKA k3rning. Or being poo3d.

** Or just common sense. But apparently common sense isn't all that common.

*** Surprise! Simply providing salary and benefits is not sufficient to get the best out of people.


7 responses so far

Don't forget to celebrate

Nov 21 2016 Published by under Careers, Life

I know there's a lot of doom and gloom right now. Let's face it, 2016 has SUCKED. It has sucked giant bags of rotting leprous pig dicks. And then some.


Let's not forget to celebrate when things do go right. People are submitting grants, publishing, graduating students, winning at other aspects of life. Give them a W00t!!!!! They deserve it.

And we all need it.


One response so far

In fact, it is well known that...

Nov 07 2016 Published by under Careers, Life, NIH

If you find yourself writing:

"In fact..."

"It is well known..."


"...leading to a better understanding..."



Drop a heavy object on your head.

Think again.

And maybe just don't.



Feel free to add other overused/cliched/etc. phrase/words in the comments.

10 responses so far

Donors Choose time!

Oct 11 2016 Published by under Careers, Life

It's that wonderful time of year again! Perambulate over to DrugMonkey's joint and give.

Then give some more.

Give until it hurts goddammit!!!!!


Comments are off for this post

An oldish dog learning new tricks #drugmonkeyday

Sep 23 2016 Published by under Careers, Life, NIH

I'm what you might describe as being in my late mid-career stage. (I'm not ready for that late career part yet, thank you very much.) Most of my career I've managed to keep my lab funded and humming along. Not so much the last few years. I've scraped together little pots of money here and there, but have failed to pull in the NSF-level grants that have supported me much of my professional life. There are reasons behind this extended funding lapse, but the bottom line is I have no one to blame but myself.*

I'm doing my best to pull out of the spiral. Writing grants etc. Not panicking of course, but also trying not to miss any opportunities. And there are glimmers of hope. I've been getting closer and closer to fundable scores. Like well within reach close. Not at the NSF though. At the NIH. NIH proposals are not like NSF proposals. And I don't mean the whole medical relevance thing. They feel different. At least to me they do. And of course the NIH review process is very unlike that at NSF.

It's been, and continues to be, an education.  Much of what I've learnt has come from the intertube's very own Grumpy Curmudgeon Grant Fairy, the Statler to @PhysioProf's Waldorf**, Bane of Co-First Authorship, and Untiring Champion of Author-Date Citations, the inimitable DrugMonkey. His "Your Grant in Review" series has proven invaluable. And judging by the comments, many of his readers agree.

Happy #drugmonkeyday my friend.



* I've tried blaming others. It doesn't seem to help. Go figure.

** Or is it Waldorf to @PhysioProf's Statler? Aged Starsky or Hutch? Laurel or Hardy?




2 responses so far

What is an editorial board?

Jun 22 2016 Published by under Careers, Life, NIH

What do you think the role of an editorial board should be? Not what you observe one to be, but what you believe it should be.

2 responses so far

Feeding the machine

Jun 22 2016 Published by under Careers, Life, NIH

Yesterday I tweeted:

This lead to an interesting discussion part of which included:

And therein lies what I see as the single biggest issue with some editorial boards. Not reviewers. Editorial boards. The people that handle the review exercise. Those that are supposed to oversee a timely and fair process. Those that choose the reviewers and, supposedly, ensure the reviews are reasonable. The gatekeepers if you will. It is not the job of the handling editor, or of a journal, to feed the glam-humping machine. Reviewers routinely ask for MOAR EXPERIMENTS!!!!!!!!!!!! because handling editors let them get away with it.

Why do editorial boards do this? Not, in my opinion, to "improve the journal" (i.e. JIF chase), but more because that's what they're used to. Journals have this habit of stacking their boards with the vertically ascending. For the prestige. Is it really surprising that glam-humpers are okay with a glam-humping-like review process?

Journals need to stop pursuing the prestigious and start filling their editorial boards with people who understand the scope and standing of the journal.* People who actually publish there on a regular basis. Most people I know don't submit to journals because the editorial board is full of the vertically ascending. They submit because they like the level of science published there and think their own work fits.


* That's not to say the standing need remain static.

6 responses so far


May 18 2016 Published by under Careers, NIH

Journal Impact Factor or peanut butter?

Both seem to require a heaping helping of nuts.


2 responses so far

New NAS members

May 03 2016 Published by under Careers, Life, NIH

Today the National Academy of Sciences announced their newly elected members. You can read the announcement here.


Once again, I'm not on the list.


Once again, the gender balance isn't. Not even close.



Apparently the Royal Society didn't do any better with their new Fellows.


One response so far

Climbing ponderable

Apr 25 2016 Published by under Careers, Life, NIH

People often refer to a ladder when discussing ascending through the ranks in their careers. I prefer to think it's more like rock-climbing* - there's not necessarily one route as implied by a ladder.

Be careful not to tread on the fingers of those below you and don't forget to point out the hard-to-see hand/foot-holds.

No point in getting to the top if there's no one left following to witness it.


* It's still an imperfect metaphor. Also, I'm no rock-climber.


4 responses so far

Older posts »