Monthly Archives: May 2008

Want to be successful? learn to write quickly and efficiently

We had a little discussion going on in this post where two readers commented that they prefer to print out manuscripts and mark them up physically. This is a bad idea that all trainees should break themselves of. First off, shame on you printed paper types, you’re ruining our planet. Okay, that’s a bit harsh… but, secondly, and more seriously, as your career progresses those stacks of paper are going to get completely out of control and you will not be able to stay organized. Invest in a PDF organizing program (I suggest Papers) and learn to annotate the PDFs in a systematic way that can help you write. Write your annotations to those PDFs in such a way that you can cut and paste those ideas into manuscripts, grants and reviews to make yourself more efficient.

Allow me to give an example. Continue reading



Two exciting pieces of news today.

1) I just accepted an invitation to become a contributing editor at a well respected Neuroscience Journal. This is exciting for several reasons (recognition of scientific contributions and quality reviewing as well as a big plus for the old tenure packet) and is something I really look forward to doing. I also know that this is very much tied to the effective mentorship of the Dr. PostDoc Mentor (in ways that I will not elaborate on now). That reminds me, I need to write that post about how Dr. PostDoc Mentor managed to be such an effective mentor. This is especially relevant due to the discussion going on over at DM.

2) Any hour now we are going to pass 10,000 hits here at juniorprof. Many thanks are due to DM, PP, Abel, DrdrA, Alex and Dr. Jeckyll for their support and linkage.

Nature practices what it preaches… where is Science?

I don’t know when this started but I am impressed. There has been much hand wringing of late (well not really of late, its been going on for years) about the ever increasing density of Nature and Science papers and the lack of full methods in the full text of their articles. This information is generally available in the supplementary data files but it is not uniform and having separate files for supplementary files and the actual paper is tedious at best when you are trying to read through a paper. Moreover, the recent Linda Buck group retraction that included an author contribution line (which I still think was weird) was further complicated by the fact that an author contribution line wasn’t standard for Nature. Well, no more. Nature articles now include an author contribution line.

All I can say is, way to go Nature. The author contribution line is nice but the methods section attached to the downloaded PDF is fantastic!! I use a program called Papers to organize and read my PDFs and having separate supplementary files to go along with the manuscript was a real pain. I don’t need to worry about it, at least for the full methods (which I really do care about reading) since they are now part of the downloaded PDF. Time to fall into line Science! This is a service that your readers deserve.

Watching them leave

Yesterday I found out that yet another junior PI colleague has decided to take the leap into an industry position. I am happy for him, I am sure he will do well and, more importantly, I get the impression he is pleased with his decision. I am not one of these academics that thinks that the ivory tower is the only way to go. Quite the contrary, I encourage all trainees to learn about different career paths and I strive to help them learn how to accomplish their goals, wherever they want to end up. On the other hand, seeing my fellow junior colleagues leave the academic science world leaves me with a sinking feeling of impending loneliness as I watch it happen over and over again. Continue reading

Phoenix has Landed!!

Today is quite possibly the biggest day in the history of The University of Arizona, which may or may not be may place of work :-). The Phoenix Mars Mission has successfully landed on Mars!!! Congrats to all my colleagues over in the space-sciences, physics, engineering and optics departments on a job well done. Now the real fun can begin!!

Looks like there is a party in the street outside my office window… perhaps now would be a good time to stop writing that grant.

Update: Now with images of Mars. It looks like Phoenix will be analyzing ice soon.

Memorial Day… my grandpa and WWII

On this Memorial Day weekend I’d like to tell you a bit about my grandpa and World War II. I have been reminded many times of late that there are fewer and fewer former soldiers of WWII still alive. I am one of those lucky grandchildren who still has his grandfather (and grandmother) alive and well and still working on the farm well into his 90’s. My grandpa has always been willing to share stories about nearly every aspect of his life. The one exception is WWII; however, there have been a few times when he was willing to talk about his experience in the Pacific during those years. Since the start of the Iraq war those occasions have become more frequent as he has clearly felt the need to share with his family the horror that is war. Continue reading

Hitting the reset button

About a month ago I went to a talk given by a well known neuroscientist and pain clinician at my local Uni (actually, I helped host his visit, but who’s counting). During his talk he brought up the idea of using ketamine to treat pain. Ketamine, for those who don’t know, is an NMDA receptor antagonist. The idea of using ketamine for pain is not new. The approach he mentioned was. Continue reading

It can’t just be me

I’ve been getting inundated with emails lately to do something that I think might otherwise be a nice gig — become an editor-in-chief of a journal. Unfortunately (and no surprise) these solicitations haven’t been for journals that I actually read. Rather, they’ve been for brand new, open-access journals for a variety of odd topics.

It all started about 3 months ago when I got invited to be on the editorial board for a new pain-specific journal. That one actually excited me and I applied. I was accepted, although the journal hasn’t published a paper yet, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that a good number of my more senior colleagues can also be found on the editorial board for the journal. Once that editorial board page was up, the flood of emails began.

Just today I got two, the more ridiculous one was an invite to apply for editor-in-chief of “genetically modified organisms”. Well, I’ve worked with KO mice before so I guess I’m eligible? Seriously, WTF?

There are two points/questions I’d like to make/pose with this little discussion:
1) Are the rest of you PIs and Postdocs getting all these wacky emails from journals and publishing houses no one has ever heard of before?
2) Almost all of these have been open-access journals. I am all for OA, but I get the impression that some OA publishers are just throwing all the crappy ideas they can think of at the wall and seeing what sticks. Is this any way to run a publishing house? Is this healthy practice for the OA movement? I say no on both counts.

Finally, I’ll just note that I realize that every journal once started as a journal no one had ever heard of before but come-on. If ya’ll are getting any of these emails you know what I’m talking about!

America’s inner racist emerges, in WV and KY

The “O-Man” got pummeled by HRC in West Virginia and Kentucky. We’ve heard her reasons for the big wins. I, for one, am not buying it. Neither is Timothy Egan of the NYTimes. Rather than repeat what he says, go check it out. His position is also mine. 1 in 5 white voters in KY said that race played a factor in their voting preference. Guess what that means…

DM gets credit for spawning the confrontation of America’s inner racist in this here election cycle.

Advice for the American scientist moving to Canada

I got an email from a reader asking if I have any advice for American scientists moving or considering a move to the Great White North. You bet I do! Please note that I didn’t live in Canada as a whole, I lived in Montreal, Quebec, so most of my advice will be Quebec-centric. On the other hand, I do have a fairly good idea of how life is in most of Eastern Canada so I’ll try to keep it general.

We’ll break this into three sections. Advice for life in general, advice for the new Canadian PI and advice for the Canadian Postdoc. Continue reading