29 October 2019

Journal reviewing celebration

Recently, I completed a review for journal number fifty. Not fifty articles – fifty different journals I have reviewed for. Some only once and some multiple times.

Since you’re invited to review papers, and I usually say yes whenever possible, the list is kind of an interesting way to see what other people think I know. Mostly crustacean stuff, but I’m pleased that behaviour, evolution, nervous systems, and even internet stuff has worked its way into the list of thing I’ve reviewed.

Acta Ethologica
American Midland Naturalist
Animals
Aquaculture Research
Aquatic Invasions
Behaviour
Behavioural Processes
BioInvasions Records
Biologia
Biological Invasions
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
BMC Evolutionary Biology
Brain, Behavior and Evolution
Bulletin of Marine Science
Diversity
Drug Discovery Today
Environmental Management
Facets
Fisheries Research
Freshwater Crayfish
Herpetological Natural History
ICES Journal of Marine Science
Invertebrate Reproduction and Development
Journal of Coastal Research
Journal of Crustacean Biology
Journal of Ethology
Journal of Experimental Biology
Journal of Experimental Zoology, Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology
Journal of Medical Internet Research
Journal of Natural History
Journal of Neurophysiology
Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE)
Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems
Management of Biological Invasions
Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology
Marine Biology Research
Nature Ecology & Evolution
Neuroscience Letters
North-Western Journal of Zoology
Open Journal of Molecular and Integrative Physiology
PeerJ
Physiology and Behavior
PLOS ONE
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Royal Society Open Science
Science Advances
The Biological Bulletin
Zoolgischer Anzeiger
Zoology
Zootaxa

24 October 2019

How academic publishing is like a really nice bra

In my jackdaw meanderings around the internet, I stumbled on this thread from Cora Harrington.

Sometimes I like to look at lace prices on sites like Sophie Hallette. It’s good for giving perspective on how, even if the cost of lingerie was just fabrics (and it’s not because people should be paid for their labor), many items would still be expensive.

She gives many examples, of which I will show just one (emphasis added):

The Chloris reembroidered lace is around $1600/meter.


And that isn’t the most expensive one. Cora concludes:

When someone says “There’s no way x could cost that much,” keep in mind that there are fabrics - literally just the fabrics - that can cost 4 figures per meter.

And the labor - the expertise - involved in knowing how to handle these fabrics is worth many, many times more.

This made me think a lot about academic publishing. Because I am always fascinated by people who say something like undergraduate textbooks or journal subscriptions or article processing fees for open access publishing costs “too much.” When someone says something costs “Too much,” that means they have some notion in their head of what the “right” price is.

But as this example shows, people don’t always have a clear conception of the costs involved. And people complaining about costs sometimes tend to assume that the labour involved is simple, quick, and not worth paying a decent wage for.

This is not to say prices can’t be too high. But at least as far as academic publishing goes, I’ve only seen one attempt to work out what costs are. That is, apart from publishers themselves, who have conflicts of interest in calculating and disclosing costs.

04 October 2019

Who co-authored the most read paper in JCB? Me.

Screenshot of Journal of CRustacean Biology advance articles and "Most read" list, with crayfish cell culture at top of "Most read"

Yes, I know there are all kinds of problems with mystery metrics. Yes, I know this reflects the new paper I co-authored being, well, a new paper with no paywall. Yes, I know that this won’t necessarily reflect the long time impact of the paper.

Still. It feels nice.

Far too often, publishing academic papers feels like shouting into a vacuum. Or the most agonizing of slow burns, where it takes years to know if other people will pick up on what you’ve done. So a little short term feedback like this is pleasant.

01 October 2019

Victoria Braithwaite dies

Victoria Braithwaite

I was saddened to learn about the untimely death of Victoria Brathwaite. Victoria was a pioneer in research on nociception in non-mammals (fish, specifically), culminating in her book Do Fish Feel Pain? (reviewed here).

I was fortunate to have her as one of the speakers for a symposium I co-organized for Neuroethology in 2012. She was a fine speaker, and I’m sorry I won’t get more chances to interact or learn from her.

External links

Penn State community grieves loss of biologist Victoria Braithwaite

30 September 2019

Climbing the charts

A new preprint of a forthcoming paper I collaborated on dropped in Journal of Crustacean Biology last week.

Today, it’s in the journal’s “most read” list.

Screenshot of Journal of Crustacean Biology advance articles page, with paper by DeLeon et al. highlighted in "Most read" sidebar at third position.

I have no idea how the journal calculates this list or how often it updates it. But this makes me happy. Not bad, eh?

The paper is open access, so anyone can read it. So please, help us bump off that Artemia eggs paper off the top position!

Reference

DeLeon H III, Garcia J Jr., Silva DC, Quintanilla O, Faulkes Z, Thomas JM III. Culturing embryonic cells from the parthenogenetic clonal marble crayfish Marmorkrebs Procambarus virginalis Lyko, 2017 (Decapoda: Astacidea: Cambaridae). Journal of Crustacean Biology: in press. https://doi.org/10.1093/jcbiol/ruz063

23 September 2019

Science as a process and an institution

In a response to a poll that showed Canadians’ trust is science might be weakening, Timothy Caulfield tweeted:

Trust in science falling. People seem angry at institutions. But science isn’t a person, a place, an industry, or an institution. Science is a process. Science is a way of understanding the world. If not science, what?


Caulfield is technically correct (which, as the saying goes, is the best kind of correct). Science is a process. But this is an overly abstracted view of science – a view taken from 30,000 feet, as it were.

Science, as currently practiced, is done by people, in places, as an industry, by institutions.

Science is a profession (although it is not practiced as a working profession by many people). Most people don’t get to publish scientific papers or make new discoveries.

Science is predominantly carried out in cities in some way.

Science has its own infrastructures of technical supplies and publishing and it creates a product (knowledge distributed in technical papers).

Science is associated with universities and a few businesses.

Saying, “Science is a process” ignores how concentrated the community is and how the practitioners are invisible to a very large section of society. Saying, “Science is a process” ignores that, as currently practiced, science has many characteristics of an industry or institution.

Calling science a process is like calling politics “a process.” Sure, in theory anyone can participate and is participating in politics, but in practice, most politicking is done by professional politicians and civil servants in capital cities participating in government and a few other organizations.

“Politics” as practiced can be seen as isolated and corrupt and untrustworthy because of how it it organized. Same with science.

If we want trust in science, we can’t fall back on these sorts of idealized dictionary definitions of science. We have to embrace the reality of how science is practiced in reality. And the reality is that science can feel closed and confusing and haughty for many who have minimal connections with that community.