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  #421  
Old 19.12.2007, 11:31
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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PhDs in the main, papers and most other things in academia are done via the big brother network. I've seen a couple of PhD theses not worth the paper they are printed on and seen one awarded to a colleague who even my own professor was amazed to see it awarded. I'm afraid you just have to play the game or get out (as I did).
I need to be careful what I say here but I was once( in another life) or maybe it was someone I know asked to review a thesis and rejected it as more or less not worth the paper it was written on. An invitation to rereview the paper was provided to me with a clear recommendation on what I should say by the responsible PVC. I can also say this was while I was working at a very reputable university and not some mickey mouse institute.
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  #422  
Old 19.12.2007, 11:36
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Re: Ask a Scientist

I have to admit, that in some cases just the sheer perseverance of making it to the defense and writing the thesis gets rewarded with a PhD. We had a guy at my old university who I am actually ashamed to know got his PhD from the same place I did. His public defense whas a nightmare, I actually wanted to curl up into a ball and cry the way everyone was laying into him (he deserved it of course, but oh I've never seen anything like it). One of his committee members basically refused to sign off on his thesis, but in the end he ended up coming around and signing off.

People sometimes say when I tell them I'm a chemist, "Wow, you must be really smart" And I'm like "No, chemist doesn't equal smart, I know lots of stupid chemists"

But when it comes to getting a job, or further along in your career people can figure out pretty quickly if you actually know what you are talking about or not.

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I need to be careful what I say here but I was once( in another life) or maybe it was someone I know asked to review a thesis and rejected it as more or less not worth the paper it was written on. An invitation to rereview the paper was provided to me with a clear recommendation on what I should say by the responsible PVC. I can also say this was while I was working at a very reputable university and not some mickey mouse institute.
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  #423  
Old 19.12.2007, 11:39
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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But when it comes to getting a job, or further along in your career people can figure out pretty quickly if you actually know what you are talking about or not.
Oh Dear - then I have little chance...
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  #424  
Old 19.12.2007, 11:45
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Oh Dear - then I have little chance...
I concur.

Repeating, smiling (or looking solemn) and agreeing will get you far.
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  #425  
Old 19.12.2007, 12:06
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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I concur.

Repeating, smiling (or looking solemn) and agreeing will get you far.

Reminds me of a meeting I had a long time ago with the manager of a Japanese bank in Zurich. I spent half an hour explaining the terms and conditions of a contract to him, while he nodded and signalled his agreement. All questions where answered yes. After I realised that he didn't speak any European language, I simply asked him to sign the contract, which he did.
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  #426  
Old 19.12.2007, 13:44
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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PhDs in the main, papers and most other things in academia are done via the big brother network. I've seen a couple of PhD theses not worth the paper they are printed on and seen one awarded to a colleague who even my own professor was amazed to see it awarded. I'm afraid you just have to play the game or get out (as I did).
In my first job I corrected a prototype built as part of a PhD - having navigated through various layers of arrogance, incompetence and hubris on the part of the guys who built it I eventually arrived at the thesis and discovered that the guy who wrote it hadn't fully understood the papers he had quoted. The guy who then built it (it was the first commercial laser spectroscope) built a laser temperature control which didn't work properly and he then got a patent for a self-calibration system which corrected the drift (at the expense of injecting exactly the same dangerous chemical at levels that would have shut the plant down, into the measurement cell and out into the environment) of the non functioning laser temperature control.

There was no point in considering a PhD in engineering after that project.

Hans
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  #427  
Old 19.12.2007, 13:48
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Re: Ask a Scientist

... and silly me thought the private sector would be less corrupt
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  #428  
Old 19.12.2007, 14:08
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Re: Ask a Scientist

There are retarded *ssholes wherever you go.

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... and silly me thought the private sector would be less corrupt
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  #429  
Old 19.12.2007, 14:11
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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There are retarded *ssholes wherever you go.
... and some of them work with me.
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  #430  
Old 19.12.2007, 14:11
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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And does anyone else agree that peer-reviewing is done mainly by post-docs whose supervisors pass the papers on to them?

Oh, and what can you do if you've worked on a paper and the main author doesn't put you on the paper?
In my field (Environmental Science and Engineering), none of the "famous" professors actually review papers, and this is common knowledge. If they are given a paper to review "by mistake", they will pass it off to a senior grad student or post doc to give them experience. So, the majority of reviewers are young faculty, old grad students, and post docs. I suppose as long as everyone recognizes this, it works out ok.

I've had a similar instance of work of mine being published without me being an author. If you're really ticked off, you can register a complaint with the journal. This can end up black-listing the main author, though, so you'd really want to be sure about that. In my case it was an undergraduate advisor with whom I still wanted to write another paper, so I decided to let it go, frustrating as it was. RAAAARGH!
Good luck figuring out what to do.
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  #431  
Old 19.12.2007, 14:12
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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There are retarded *ssholes wherever you go.

Didn't realise you worked in the same telco company as me. Which floor you on?
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  #432  
Old 19.12.2007, 14:18
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Re: Ask a Scientist

Let the fight commence. I got to know a number of people working as postdoc researchers in microbiology, and the constant topic of conversation was authorship ranking on publications.

It appeared to represent the acclaim and credibility that they craved above all else. If Frodo Baggins appeared with a ring hung around his neck, the only question they would ask is why Gandalf didnt give them second author on the latest Middle-Earth paper.

Go forth and smite them, and smite them again I suppose is the only answer to your question if blackmail doesnt work.

dave





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Oh, and what can you do if you've worked on a paper and the main author doesn't put you on the paper?
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  #433  
Old 19.12.2007, 14:21
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Re: Ask a Scientist

Well, it's interesting with biologists. Have you seen the author lists on some of these papers? There is often 10-15 people on them. How do you decide who goes where, based upon what? Anyhoo, if you're farther down on the list than 1,2 or 3 it doesn't count too much in the grand scheme of things.

Anyhoo, one of the chemistry blogs I read had an interesting post regarding reviewing and who does it.

It appears as if even the post-docs and grad students are reviewing the papers the boss still has a significant amount of say. But if a second year grad student can pick out flaws/holes in your research big enough to drive a truck through, that's some pretty shitty research, Lou.

thechemblog

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Let the fight commence. I got to know a number of people working as postdoc researchers in microbiology, and the constant topic of conversation was authorship ranking on publications.

It appeared to represent the acclaim and credibility that they craved above all else. If Frodo Baggins appeared with a ring hung around his neck, the only question they would ask is why Gandalf didnt give them second author on the latest Middle-Earth paper.

Go forth and smite them, and smite them again I suppose is the only answer to your question if blackmail doesnt work.

dave
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  #434  
Old 19.12.2007, 14:23
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Let the fight commence. I got to know a number of people working as postdoc researchers in microbiology, and the constant topic of conversation was authorship ranking on publications.
I left academia a while ago, but when I was there I was one of the poor bastard churning out papers. At that time, a major source of funding was dependent upon the number of "quality" published papers and only the top 3 for each person were considered. Thus we were in a situation of juggling authors names, some of whom did not contribute a single word or even internal review, yet getting first or second authorship. I doubt this situation has changed much......
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  #435  
Old 19.12.2007, 14:28
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Well, it's interesting with biologists. Have you seen the author lists on some of these papers? There is often 10-15 people on them. How do you decide who goes where, based upon what? Anyhoo, if you're farther down on the list than 1,2 or 3 it doesn't count too much in the grand scheme of things.

Anyhoo, one of the chemistry blogs I read had an interesting post regarding reviewing and who does it.

It appears as if even the post-docs and grad students are reviewing the papers the boss still has a significant amount of say. But if a second year grad student can pick out flaws/holes in your research big enough to drive a truck through, that's some pretty shitty research, Lou.

thechemblog
In biomedical science the last author is considered to be the conceptual author and thus is in many cases considered to be more important then the second author... or... god forbid the first author!!!
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  #436  
Old 19.12.2007, 14:30
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Re: Ask a Scientist

I have not encountered this. I've worked for some really upstanding/outstanding chemists and consider myself lucky.

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Thus we were in a situation of juggling authors names, some of whom did not contribute a single word or even internal review, yet getting first or second authorship. I doubt this situation has changed much......
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  #437  
Old 19.12.2007, 14:31
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Re: Ask a Scientist

Biomed: perverse as ever.

dave

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In biomedical science the last author is considered to be the conceptual author and thus is in many cases considered to be more important then the second author... or... god forbid the first author!!!
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  #438  
Old 19.12.2007, 14:32
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Re: Ask a Scientist

Spot on. Seen this in several fields.

dave

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I left academia a while ago, but when I was there I was one of the poor bastard churning out papers. At that time, a major source of funding was dependent upon the number of "quality" published papers and only the top 3 for each person were considered. Thus we were in a situation of juggling authors names, some of whom did not contribute a single word or even internal review, yet getting first or second authorship. I doubt this situation has changed much......
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  #439  
Old 19.12.2007, 14:33
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Biomed: perverse as ever.

dave
Hmm...leave my fetishes out of this!!!
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  #440  
Old 19.12.2007, 14:50
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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It appeared to represent the acclaim and credibility that they craved above all else. If Frodo Baggins appeared with a ring hung around his neck, the only question they would ask is why Gandalf didnt give them second author on the latest Middle-Earth paper.
This Middle-Earth quip has reminded me of a brilliant analogy between doing a PhD and that story, which I found while making my own trip to Mordor. Painfully accurate:

The story starts with Frodo: a young hobbit, quite bright, a bit dissatisfied with what he's learnt so far and with his mates back home who just seem to want to get jobs and settle down and drink beer. He's also very much in awe of his tutor and mentor, the very senior professor Gandalf, so when Gandalf suggests he take on a short project for him (carrying the Ring to Rivendell), he agrees.
Frodo very quickly encounters the shadowy forces of fear and despair which will haunt the rest of his journey and leave permanent scars on his psyche, but he also makes some useful friends. In particular, he spends an evening down at the pub with Aragorn, who has been wandering the world for many years as Gandalf's postdoc and becomes his adviser when Gandalf isn't around. After Frodo has completed his first project, Gandalf (along with head of department Elrond) proposes that the work should be extended. He assembles a large research group, including visiting students Gimli and Legolas, the foreign postdoc Boromir and several of Frodo's own friends from his undergraduate days. Frodo agrees to tackle this larger project, though he has mixed feelings about it. ("'I will take the Ring', he said, 'although I do not know why.'")
Very rapidly, things go wrong. First, Gandalf disappears and has no more interaction with Frodo until everything is over. (Frodo assumes his supervisor is dead: in fact, he's simply found a more interesting topic and is working on that instead.) At his first international conference in Lorien, Frodo is cross-examined terrifyingly by Galadriel, and betrayed by Boromir, who is anxious to get the credit for the work himself. Frodo cuts himself off from the rest of his team: from now on, he will only discuss his work with Sam, an old friend who doesn't really understand what it's all about, but in any case is prepared to give Frodo credit for being rather cleverer than he is. Then he sets out towards Mordor. The last and darkest period of Frodo's journey clearly represents the writing-up stage, as he struggles towards Mount Doom (submission), finding his burden growing heavier and heavier yet more and more a part of himself; more and more terrified of failure; plagued by the figure of Gollum, the student who carried the Ring before him but never wrote up and still hangs around as a burnt-out, jealous shadow; talking less and less even to Sam. When he submits the Ring to the fire, it is in desperate confusion rather than with confidence, and for a while the world seems empty.

Eventually it is over: the Ring is gone, everyone congratulates him, and for a few days he can convince himself that his troubles are over. But there is one more obstacle to overcome: months later, back in the Shire, he must confront the external examiner Saruman, an old enemy of Gandalf, who seeks to humiliate and destroy his rival's protege. With the help of his friends and colleagues, Frodo passes through this ordeal, but discovers at the end that victory has no value left for him. While his friends return to settling down and finding jobs and starting families, Frodo remains in limbo; finally, along with Gandalf, Elrond and many others, he joins the brain drain to the lands beyond.
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