[Coral-List] Peer review in coral reef science
ceo at lindorm.com
Thu May 23 12:23:10 EDT 2013
Unfortunately it seems to be true, when there is no economic pressure for efficiency, conflicts arise. I come from a department that once was world leading in its field, but there was no sense of mission any more, and the backstabbing killed it. I once asked the staff members in the coffee room what THEY thought the mission of the department was, and they had no answer. Leadership failure too, I'd say.
On 2013-05-23, at 10:44, Griffin, Dale wrote:
> I agree with Mike, a little dose of introspection is always
> helpful.......and controvery drives good science.....it is to bad the
> occasional challenge or insult isn't crafted and thrown as eloquently as
> they are in the House of Commons....those exchanges are fun to watch!
> "Everybody is ignorant, just on different subjects"
> Will Rogers
> Dale W. Griffin, Ph.D., MSPH
> Environmental/Public Health Microbiologist
> United States Geological Survey
> 600 4th Street South
> St. Petersburg, FL 33701
> Office # - 727-803-8747, ext. 3075
> Fax # - 727-803-2031
> Cell # 850-274-3566
> email - dgriffin at usgs.gov
> On Thu, May 23, 2013 at 9:25 AM, Michael Risk <riskmj at mcmaster.ca> wrote:
>> Hello Rebecca.
>> You and John have identified a phenomenon which most of us have
>> experienced. I guess the fundamental question is, are we imagining things,
>> or are reef people genuinely nasty? (One small anecdote: my wife, Jodie
>> Smith, is a coral isotope chemist with quite a few excellent publications.
>> She gave up doing science 10 years ago, saying "this is a nasty business,
>> full of nasty people. And I'm not sure about YOU." )
>> I personally think this is real, and there may be historical reasons for
>> I am a biologist by training, PhD USC, although most of my paychecks came
>> from a geology department. I also have degrees in sedimentology, and
>> could never focus enough to concentrate on either biology or geology.
>> For many years, it was common knowledge that geologists gave far better
>> talks than biologists. Our department even ran a series of seminars in
>> proper presentation. ( The advent of PowerPoint has changed the playing
>> field.) I think the reason for this goes back to the funding streams for
>> both parent disciplines. Since the days of Darwin, biology has relied
>> largely on philanthropy and government funding. Geology, on the other
>> hand, has had a hard economic focus driven by mining and oil exploration.
>> Say what you will about private enterprise, it fosters good communication
>> skills. If you have 10 minutes to persuade the chief geologist to drill
>> your favourite play, you had better be able to convince her.
>> I think this mindset has carried over to the present. It is said that
>> academic disputes are so vicious because the stakes are so small. Funding
>> for coral reef research comes largely from government agencies, which means
>> bureaucracy, which means long complicated applications. There is no
>> selection pressure for focus and brevity. As the benefits spring from
>> perpetuating this system, more and more our fortunes seem to depend on our
>> production, relative to the next person's. What may set reef science apart
>> here is that, alone among the major funding streams, there is NO economic
>> pressure. All those thousands of coastal villagers in the Third World are
>> not going to take up a collection to fund our research, essential though it
>> may be.
>> There may also be another factor at work, and this may require some
>> introspection. I think the field self-selects for people with big egos, who
>> interpret their "success" as being due to their behaviour, and not in spite
>> of it.
>> In short, there is no hope of changing this.
>> John and coral listers,
>>> Thanks to John for an insightful post about the issues with peer review
>> in our field. This is a topic I often discuss with my students and
>> postdocs. As a former ousider to coral reef work (i am a microbiologist and
>> cell biologist by training) I was shocked by the reviews I and others in my
>> new lab received when we began to submit to reef focused journals. Many
>> were outright rude or personally insulting. There really should be no place
>> for these kinds of comments in our community.
>>> The result of this lack of civility is that we have a reputation among
>> biologist for our nastiness. In an era of reduced funding but increases in
>> collaberative science, we negatively affect our funding opportunities by
>> creating a negative atmosphere surrounding our field. Groups that have come
>> together to tackle big global issues are getting more funding.
>>> It's so bad that many of us young coral reef biologists commonly discuss
>> the lack of civil discourse in our field. We want to know what the root of
>> these harsh and sometimes personal insulting reviews is? And, honestly,
>> because many of us have toes in other fields, we avoid reef focused
>> journals. This is a disservice to the community.
>>> Yes we are a passionate bunch. And yes we care deeply about reefs. But
>> we are also suppose to be scientists who are objective. My sense is that
>> many reviewers forget that one's opinion and/or personal philosophy do not
>> trump good science. We need to judge manuscripts on the overall data, the
>> quality of the scientific procedures, and whether the conclusions are
>> supported by the findings. We must also accept that there are limitations
>> to what scientists can acheive in a given amount of time. There are time
>> constraints, logistical,biological, and legal issues that cause
>> mehodological difficulties, as well as financial limitations inherent in
>> every project.
>>> Peer review makes every published work better for the most part. But we
>> as a community need to do a better job at removing some of the emotion from
>> the process.
>>> On May 20, 2013, at 8:14 AM, John Bruno <jbruno at unc.edu> wrote:
>>>> Hey coral reefers,
>>>> Ever wonder what other peoples reviews look like? Want to peek behind
>> the veil of secrecy shrouding peer-review in science? Come on over to
>> SeaMonster where I just posted typical reviews from our field's top
>>>> Trailer: "I think the paper is crap" "There is no there, there"
>>>> Enjoy! And share you experiences here or there.
>>>> Coral-List mailing list
>>>> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>>> Coral-List mailing list
>>> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>> Michael Risk
>> riskmj at mcmaster.ca
>> Coral-List mailing list
>> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
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