Dr. Mom, My Adventures as a Mommy-Scientist

Discussion of my journey from grad school to postdoc to tenure with two kids, a husband, (and a bit of breast cancer) in tow.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Results of High Impact Paper Review

Well I just got my a** handed to me by high impact paper reviewers. I guess I should have expected that. I mean its not like you submit to the highest journal in the land and everyone starts bowing before your academic greatness. And, I admit that when I submitted I thought it was a maybe not a definite yes or anything, but when it went out for review my hopes were lifted and...ah well.

I must say the reviewers were very good. They raised some great questions about the science that we didn't address. Some of these can be easily fixed, but others are thornier. That is where the real problem lies. They contend that even if we answer the questions, the result will be a less high impact paper. They basically disagree with our premise that this is awesome because it solves problem X. They were like yeah you might have solved X (although we're not completely convinced with the data you have), but we don't think X is such a big problem anyway.

Comes at a bad time too. The student working on this is on vacation for the holidays, so new data will not be quickly forthcoming. It will probably be a month or more before I can turn this around for a different journal. Depends on how much additional data we collect (or can collect). Oh well, I guess I'd rather have my a** handed to me by Journal of Awesome Science than Yeah, you tried that but we new it would work anyway.

Friday, December 11, 2009

If this doesn't make you spit your coffee out....

Please check out this story of gender harassment. Really beyond the pale.


Monday, December 07, 2009


Quote from an email this morning:

Do you have more specific requirement in race or sex? I've heard many professor don't like female students in laboratory.

I almost choked on my tea when I read this. Seriously? Seriously? Is this still a prevalent attitude anywhere? And why oh why would you ask an obviously female professor this question? It made me very sad.

The person in question is female, is applying for grad school at midwestern R1U, and is from an Asian country. We get a number of students female and otherwise from this country so I can't imaging that this is a prevalent view there, yet she still felt compelled to ask. Urgh!

I replied that I valued intellectual contributions and commitment to research more than any other attributes and that my lab is already diverse with a number of male and female students from foreign countries and the US and from a number of different ethnicities. I hope that this response puts her more at ease, but I still can't imagine feeling that my contributions might not be valued because I am a woman.


Thursday, December 03, 2009


Why is it that so many students must think me incapable of a simple Google search?

In most of my classes, I assign extra credit projects. (Yeah, I know I'm nice, but my exams are killer so it evens out). Typically students are given two choices: create a HW/exam question for this class or design an outreach experiment to elementary or middle schoolers on a topic from this class.

In both cases, student answers are always rife with plagiarism. HW/Exam questions are often taken directly from the text or from an alternative text. As if I am not familiar with all the texts in the field! And experiments are often copied line by line from a webpage!

Given that these are extra credit assignments, I chose to not award credit for plagiarized answers. But what about the gray area, not exactly plagiarized, a few words have been changed, but virtually identical to a webpage or book problem. For this I usually give 1/2 credit, taking off 1/2 for lack of creativity.

And to top all of this off, we have a long plagiarism discussion at the beginning of the course. Students were very careful not to plagiarize in project reports, but I guess in extra credit its okay? Ah, so frustrating.

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