Things I Am Thinking About…

1) I think that peer review really sucks for people who are either not from the United States or who submit a paper with a preponderance of non-Anglo sounding names. Of course, I state this only with my own first hand correlations between the absolute shittiness of some peer-reviews I’ve seen and the fact that they have never been given to people with white sounding names.

2) I think that the multi-PI mechanism at the NIH may be a damned scam to convince junior people after 5 years of graduate school, 5 years of postdocing, and 2-3 years of riding the soft money train that they STILL aren’t ready for an R01 without the support of someone “more senior” to mentor them or be present on their grants.  I think that, in some cases, senior folks are fear mongering the junior folks to stake out the piece of the pie they think they lost to the “ESI advantage”, whatever that means.

11 responses to “Things I Am Thinking About…

  1. I am not so sure about your 2). I tend to agree with DM that its a chance to get some recognition for Things That Already Happen. But, as always, young faculty need to be akamai, and have a Real Mentor who tells it like it is.

  2. Brutal Cash Master

    I take exception to your #1. As someone with a “white sounding name”, I have received more than my share of shitty peer-reviews.

  3. I have an underlying bias/assumption that research from scientists in developing countries isn’t ‘as good as’ research from developed countries…this leads me to tend to question some paper’s methods more vs. just assuming that they know what they are doing. I try my best to fight against that bias and not come off as a patronizing asshole, but recognizing and then dealing with your own biases is not straightforward. How do you deal with that? Your comment #1 doesn’t surprise me in the least….although in my field various European non-Anglo sounding names are pretty standard, so it would be more developed vs. developing.
    I wish more journals did double-blind reviews. If I’m a reviewer I usually don’t look at or print out the cover page to reduce any influence of who the authors are.

  4. In terms of #1 I am not inherently biased against non-Anglo names. I am biased against shitty papers that lack methodological clarity and hypothesis driven-research. As for #2 I’m going to ride the ESI train till it runs out then and only then consider a Mutli-PI deal with a more senior scientist

  5. I’m with lee. This is my last year as ESI, and I want my own damn grant!

  6. agreeing with lee. however you can get the money to run your lab is the way to go. I am mid-career and putting senior men on my grants because, believe it or not, having a senior man on your grant provides you with a “benefit of the doubt” thing that happens during study section. “well, aim 2 isn’t that well developed but so-in-so is on the grant and I am sure they can help her” I don’t agree with it, but that is reality and I need to keep my program active.

  7. @pyrope. I don’t agree on double-blind peer review for papers. One of the first things I do when reviewing is go see what else the authors published in the past couple of years. I wish I had $1 for every time I found a similar paper from the same lab, sometimes with overlapping data, and not cited in the new MS under review. There’s salami slicing, and then there’s trying to double-publish, and unfortunately knowing the ID of the lead author is the only way to discover the latter.

    It’s the same in grants – anyone can claim a method is “established” in their lab, but really the only way to know is look at their publications. I’ve seen at least one example of prelim’ data in a grant that was lifted from a paper by the PI’s mentor, but the PI was not an author on it. So yes, technically the PI might “know” the method because they trained in a lab where that method was being done, but that doesn’t mean the method is “established” in the spanky new PI’s own lab. Again, knowing reviewer identities is often the only way to figure this stuff out.

    As for the other comments here, +1 on non-Anlgo peeps failing to have a monopoly on receiving crappy reviews and getting screwed over. It happens to even the oldest / whitest / malest of us.

  8. and I don’t think the multi-PI thing actually works unless it is two or more PIs from very different fields–not different fields of biology but MD plus PhD or engineer and biologist, chemist and cell biologist. Otherwise the synergy between the PIs is questioned.

  9. I’m a native English speaker, and published >10 papers in the US before moving to a country where English was not the native language. In the papers I published with a US address, I never had a single reviewer suggest that the writing needed work in any way, and several reviewers stated that the paper was well written. In the first paper I wrote with an address outside the English-speaking world, one reviewer pointedly indicated that it should be read by a native speaker before being resubmitted, but did not identify a single grammatical fault or instance of poor writing. I was furious, as I had written the paper, and this experience really brought home the difficulties faced by writers outside the English speaking world.

    I did manage to cool off before I wrote the response letter, and simply indicated that I had a native speaker read it, and they found no fault with the revision. I didn’t mention that I was the native English speaker I was referring to.

  10. @Ola Wow – I’ve come across plenty of incremental papers, but never an actual duplicate. That is disconcerting. Maybe I will rethink the level to which I check that sort of thing. I suppose I can hope that my field is less susceptible?

    @Dr. M I wrote a paper a couple of years ago and put some undergraduates as first authors and myself as last/corresponding (the concept of senior author is still a little unusual in my field). The editor probably assumed it was student written and commented “Please make sure that any resubmission is carefully edited by people experienced in scientific writing”. So – assumptions about authorship definitely alter one’s perspective on the writing.

  11. my two cents, lurking

    What’s new? Foreign sounding name and/or foreign accent = confused foreigner.

    Totally unrelated topic…is there a reason why I do not feel the exercise high before the 30 min mark? In order to truly unclog my psyche I have to put in a good hour of more or less continuous aerobic effort. Is there a way to cheat the body into kicking in those endorphins before the 40-45 min mark, as is my case? Do more experienced runner/bike/swim/elliptical douches notice the exercise high kicking in sooner as their level of fitness increased, or is this something that is more or less constant to the individual regardless of their fitness level. I am a recovering cake and cheese addict.
    high kicking in sooner as a result of their increased level of fitness?

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