Archive for the 'Reader participation' category

DonorsChoose #scibloggers4students: I am a donor.

When I was in school, my science teachers had the materials they needed for hands-on teaching.

Since my kids have been in school, there has never been a year where parents were not asked to provide the most basic school supplies -- even paper and pencils.

Materials for science experiments have become a luxury item -- and so has hands-on learning.

All our kids deserve better, so I AM A DONOR.

donorschoose.org/sciencebloggers

* * * * *

If you're a grown-up who's into science, chances are that some teacher or mentor-like person in your childhood did something to spark your interest, to expose you to cool experiments or patterns of scientific reasoning. Maybe it was a trip to see dinosaur skeletons at the natural history museum, or that baking soda and vinegar volcano, or the year your class grew fruit flies or silkworms. Maybe it was learning something unexpected about clouds, or about the digestive system. Maybe it was looking through a telescope for the first time, or discovering what the math you had learned was good for.

Kids today will have a better chance at having that kind of "a ha!" moment if their teachers have the materials and funds to make those moments happen.

If you can spare a little money, you can help make that happen. And, in the process, you can tell the current generation of school kids that their educational experiences matter to you. After all, these kids are going to be the scientists, doctors, engineers, teachers, voters, parents, and decision-makers of the future. What they know about science -- and how they feel about science -- will affect us all.

If you've already donated through Science Bloggers for Students, tell the world why you are a donor. Post a photo on your own blog (please drop a link in the comments), or email me a photo and I'll share it for you. I'm guessing there are even more reasons to be a donor than there are donors ... so far. (As I type this, the leaderboard shows 286 donors to the drive. By Saturday, can we bring that up to 500?)

And remember, if you donate through my giving page by the end of the drive (midnight October 22), you get to assign me a topic for a blog post!

Comments are off for this post

DonorsChoose #scibloggers4students: I'm not above bribing you.

You already know that the science-inclined precincts of the blogosphere are in the midst of Science Bloggers for Students 2011, in which we and DonorsChoose ask you to contribute funds to public school classroom projects which provide books, science kits, safety equipment and reagents, field trips, and other essentials to make learning come alive for students.

You may also recall that the drive this year runs through October 22nd. And, seeing as how that's more than a week away, you maybe have making a donation on the second (or third) page of your to-do list. Or, you figure someone else will do it.

A bunch of other folks (including me!) have donated funds to get the challenge rolling -- the overall total for the drive as I compose this is $13,733 -- but there are so many more classroom projects waiting to be funded. Inertia may be a comfortable default, especially in the face of need so great that its enormity is paralyzing, but if you can spare a few bucks you will be doing something tangible to be a force for good.

And, it's easy. Visit my giving page, check out the projects described there, enter the amount of money you want to give, and check out. It's as quick and painless as buying a book or a T-shirt online.

Plus, I'm prepared to make it worth your while.

Goodies from ThinkGeek:

As I type this post, just over 24 hours remain in this week's challenge (which ends midnight October 13th, Eastern time) to get the most new donors to one's giving page. ThinkGeek will be awarding $50 gift certificates to the five bloggers in the drive who picked up the most new donors this week. If you make me one of those bloggers, I'll be giving away a $50 gift certificate, a $25 gift certificate, and a $10 gift certificate from ThinkGeek to randomly drawn donors to my giving page.

But, you have to put me in the top five for number of donors to make the drawing happen. So seize that window of opportunity!

Set my blogging agenda:

Owing to the vicissitudes of my semester (and the youth soccer season, and the eldest Free-Ride offspring's first year of junior high), I haven't been posting as much as I might be. What do you want me to blog about here? What ethical issue in science should I explore for you? What scientific topic demands a sprog's-eye view? What questions would you like to ask me about my misspent scientific youth?

Until the end of the drive (October 22nd), if you make a donation of any size to my giving page, you get to assign me a blog post. Think of the power! Mwuahahaha!

OK, you know the facts. You know what to do.

4 responses so far

#scibloggers4students social media occupation

Have you ever watched your Twitter feed only to see a virtual community come together to effect positive change in the three-dimensional world? It looks like this:

The science bloggers prepare their DonorsChoose giving pages for Science Bloggers for Students 2011 and start tweeting it up ...

Prepping by null Science Blogger Donor page. get ready to help #public #science #education excel with community output
DNLee5
October 2, 2011
Great to see @DonorsChoose teachers getting in on the tweeting! Thanks @KinderDude, @DMQUALLS & @suzannemini for sharing your projects w me!
doc_becca
October 2, 2011
When did you stop loving science? New post at Balanced Instability http://wp.me/p1l80q-9g @DonorsChoose
GertyZ
October 2, 2011
They offer their readers reasons to become donors (including prizes) ...
Helping needy classrooms + cocktail named after you = WINNING, people. http://scientopia.org/blogs/drbecca/2011/10/02/its-donors-choose-and-cocktail-sweepstakes-time/ #DonorsChoose
doc_becca
October 3, 2011
Science Bloggers for Education Challenge. Your support may educate another Whizbanger! http://bit.ly/pmZ701
PHLane
October 3, 2011
You know why the #supercommittee should adopt #buffettrule? http://bit.ly/ocSlxu have you seen what teachers need? http://DonorsChoose.org
sundapp
October 3, 2011
Help me bring desperately-needed science materials to classrooms, with @DonorsChoose: http://bit.ly/off1GP #DonorsChoose
JacquelynGill
October 3, 2011
@SteelCitySci is leading SciAm blogs in fundraising for #DonorsChoose. Bloggers make a difference! You can help! http://steelcityscience.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/science-bloggers-for-students-challenge-donorschoose/
SandlinSeguin
October 3, 2011
Pomp, circumstance, and the legendary nipple shirt. Now at Pondering Blather for @DonorsChoose! http://scientopia.org/blogs/blather/2011/10/03/its-time/
doc_becca
October 3, 2011
This classroom needs goggles to practice safe science. Can you help? http://bit.ly/oaYMlo #DonorsChoose (Project: Safety First!)
JacquelynGill
October 3, 2011
I'm not above bribery and stunts to get donations for @DonorsChoose. First donor gets hard back copy of Dawkins... http://fb.me/1aXQom3ao
DNLee5
October 3, 2011
Hey chembloggers, set up your #scibloggers4students giving pages so I can support my old discipline! #DonorsChoose
docfreeride
October 3, 2011
@suzannemini Well, here's mine, part of FreeThought Bloggers: http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/leadershipboard.html?category=274
kyliesturgess
October 4, 2011
@DonorsChoose, a great cause for bringing science to our most needy students - http://bit.ly/mVtUtM 1 Project fully funded, 70 to go!!
LSBlogs
October 4, 2011
Geoscience bloggers, you should join me at the @DonorsChoose Science Bloggers for Students challenge! Team Ocean & Geoscience needs you.
JacquelynGill
October 4, 2011
Science up the Schools with the DrugMonkey Blog DonorsChoose Drive for 2011 http://dlvr.it/pKKjX
ScientopiaBlogs
October 4, 2011
For every $5 you donate through my #DonorsChoose giving page, you get an entry to win custom science magnets! null
JacquelynGill
October 4, 2011
The competition between networks and disciplines heats up ...
W00t! #SciAmBlogs pulled ahead of the indep bloggers in DonorsChoose donations! We've got @LabSpaces in our sights... http://bit.ly/rmAryL
NerdyChristie
October 4, 2011
Acid and base are four letter words...hooray for biochemistry #scibloggers4students
jotey67890
October 4, 2011
Have you read this >> Science Bloggers for Students Give to my @DonorsChoose campaign & support public school... http://fb.me/I9uI9xiP
DNLee5
October 4, 2011
Did you love the extras in science classes? The experiments, hands-on demos and the dissections? Please help a teacher http://bit.ly/ndMhoU
drugmonkeyblog
October 5, 2011
@DonorsChoose project: Launch a Rocket of Success - http://bit.ly/n2SpTC Please help @h2so4hurts in helping to fund a rocketry project
LSBlogs
October 5, 2011
Will you help these Wisconsin kindergartners learn (and enjoy!) math? http://bit.ly/nxSyEp (Project: Math in the Real World) #DonorsChoose
JacquelynGill
October 5, 2011
#DonorsChoose is the right thing to do. RT @ScientopiaBlogs: Support Science in the Schools... http://dlvr.it/pWVny
drugmonkeyblog
October 5, 2011
RT @docfreeride: Day 7 of #scibloggers4students drive with @DonorsChoose and we're really close to $7000. Spare a few bucks? http://t.co/7n8Lu6Wb
lblanken
October 8, 2011
ThinkGeek gets in on the action by offering prizes for the bloggers who get the most new donors during Week 2 of the challenge ...
RT @docfreeride: And thru midnight 10/13 @DonorsChoose #scibloggers4students blogger who gets most new donors wins $50 @thinkgeek cert.! http://t.co/7n8Lu6Wb
cuttlefishpoet
October 8, 2011
RT @docfreeride: Help @sciencegeist fund a "Cooking with Chemistry" classroom project - just $71 to go! http://t.co/uo2aNRNf #scibloggers4students
DrRubidium
October 8, 2011
This #DonorsChoose project has <48 hours to go-- help bring microscopes to Ms. Lee's class! http://bit.ly/qXuZWs (Seeing is Understanding)
JacquelynGill
October 8, 2011
RT @docfreeride: Help @DNLee5 fund "Our Trash Goes Where?!" classroom project - just $172 to go! http://t.co/t9RLFR1r #scibloggers4students
lualnu10
October 8, 2011
Help @GertyZ support "Scientific investigating!" classroom project - just $202 to go! http://t.co/HW2pLSyr #scibloggers4students
betterbio
October 8, 2011
@betterbio @docfreeride thanks ladies for helping spread the word #scibloggers4students @DonorsChoose
DNLee5
October 8, 2011
RT @rachelpep: No chemicals, test tubes, or lab coats? Let's help classrooms get what they need to teach chemistry: bit.ly/qMvGJx #donorschoose
Chem_Coach
October 10, 2011
.@DonorsChoose! - http://t.co/K88sa5jI We're still looking for donations for our projects. Every little bit helps!
LSBlogs
October 10, 2011
@cenblogs @razibkhan @BadAstronomer jump in to #scibloggers4students! Help them raise $ for public school science! http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/motherboard.html?motherboardId=21
docfreeride
October 10, 2011
The competition gets personal ...
Please donate to Sci's Giving page of Awesome!!! I want the childrens to LEARN! http://bit.ly/pMQ38h
scicurious
October 10, 2011
Ok, Now It's Personal: http://freethoughtblogs.com/cuttlefish/?p=755 Stomp Scicurious, for the sake of children. Please, won't someone think of the children!
cuttlefishpoet
October 10, 2011
Phil Plait unleashes a juggernaut of citizen philanthropy ...
RT @docfreeride: Whoa! @BadAstronomer pulls Discover Blogs ahead of @sciamblogs in #scibloggers4students. Step up, #SciAmBlog readers! http://t.co/7n8Lu6Wb
BoraZ
October 10, 2011
RT @docfreeride: And now, @BadAstronomer pulls Discover Blogs ahead of @LabSpaces in #scibloggers4students. #Sciento... http://t.co/pNHfgMaF
DonorsChoose
October 10, 2011
RT @docfreeride: @BadAstronomer unleashes army of donors in #scibloggers4students Not even Freethought Blogs' lead is safe! http://t.co/WsrYNjdV
scicurious
October 10, 2011
RT @docfreeride: And now, @BadAstronomer pulls Discover Blogs ahead of @LabSpaces in #scibloggers4students. #Scientopia 's lead at risk. http://t.co/7n8Lu6Wb
drugmonkeyblog
October 10, 2011
Give to @donorschoose via your favorite science blogs! http://t.co/l9aKLeQp #scibloggers4students #fb
Comprendia
October 10, 2011
And now, @BadAstronomer pulls Discover Blogs ahead of @LabSpaces in #scibloggers4students. #Scientopia 's lead at risk. http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/motherboard.html?motherboardId=21
docfreeride
October 10, 2011
@docfreeride @DonorsChoose We're trying as hard as we can :(
LabSpaces
October 10, 2011
@LabSpaces @DonorsChoose Don't give up! Rally your readers! Highlight a specific project or two! Tug heartstrings! #scibloggers4students
docfreeride
October 10, 2011
New post: Donors Choose! Help Students Learn About Science http://t.co/ZigcvX1X #sciamblogs @donorschoose
jgold85
October 10, 2011
A bugologist enters the fray ...
Right--I'm in the DonorsChoose Science Challenge. Let's fund some classroom bug science. http://t.co/ljT2CPiE
bug_girl
October 10, 2011
Show other science bloggers what bugologists are made of: Yep, it"s time for the yearly DonorsChoose Science Cha... http://t.co/xKryUwTr
mod147
October 10, 2011
Tweeps root for their team in the challenge ...
Main page for Science Bloggers for Education: http://t.co/V9hGr7jZ; I recommend TEAM OCEAN/GEOBLOGGERS, naturally http://t.co/9oyNUd64
stomachlining
October 10, 2011
... or highlight projects dear to them ...
A mere $130 to go on the classroom rug #DonorsChoose project..can you spare $10 Tweeps? http://t.co/LZqHhtUJ via @donorschoose
drugmonkeyblog
October 11, 2011
Enable science education with DonorsChoose! http://t.co/1ZDuwvge
microdro
October 11, 2011
RT @stomachlining: IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN! Go support science education! Science Blogger DonorsChoose Challenge. http://t.co/wB59SrrY #DSN
MiriamGoldste
October 11, 2011
... propagating warm fuzzies ...
The feel goodest thing you can do today. RT @microdro: Enable science education with #DonorsChoose! http://t.co/W2DBewsf
drugmonkeyblog
October 11, 2011
Improve science education with DonorsChoose! http://t.co/1ZDuwvge
microdro
October 11, 2011
Your warm-fuzzy moment of the day: Support science education by donating to a @DonorsChoose classroom project: http://t.co/NJ2vVUtw
JacquelynGill
October 11, 2011
Phil Plaits Bad Astronomy #Blog is promoting http://t.co/vhYdL9QV -a #nonprofit that #donate s money to kids classrooms http://t.co/bKvXgCfK
gabrielpark1970
October 11, 2011
RT @jgold85: Mr. Vizthum needs just $58 more dollars to get supplies necessary to teach evolution to his students http://t.co/ZigcvX1X @donorschoose
kzelnio
October 11, 2011
New post: This Earth Science week, help @maitri raise money for good geoscience education with #DonorsChoose! http://t.co/LSfD4CBx
Allochthonous
October 11, 2011
We watch as projects are funded before our eyes!
We got Mr. Vizthum his evolution books! His project is funded! @donorschoose http://t.co/ZigcvX1X
jgold85
October 11, 2011
RT @DonorsChoose: Yippee! RT @CSCpittsburgh: RT @SteelCitySci: you could help us spread the word: Science Bloggers for Students :) http://t.co/kAAX6OyY
SteelCitySci
October 11, 2011
We funded one of our @DonorsChoose projects! Ms. Lee's students are getting microscopes! http://t.co/SzdblrpP
JacquelynGill
October 11, 2011
Geobloggers for Donorschoose: Maitri Erwin: Continuing our campaign to promote geoscience education during Earth... http://t.co/BKhAfqmY
SbExpats
October 11, 2011
RT @therealdjflux: RT @BadAstronomer: Please help kids in need learn about math and science: http://t.co/dZ6SZroV #DonorsChoose #fb
Catahouligan
October 11, 2011
But we recognize how great the need still is ...
Imagine a future without nephrologists. Don't let that happen! http://t.co/BLFToXea
PHLane
October 11, 2011
RT @LabSpaces: .@DonorsChoose project: Launch a Rocket of Success http://t.co/g7FUCYxq We still need some help to fund this project! Every little bit helps
SpaceGurlEvie
October 11, 2011
#scibloggers4students update: @MeinHermitage is in! "Let's brainwash kiddies in the name of SCIENCE" http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/viewChallenge.html?id=199514&category=282 @DonorsChoose
docfreeride
October 11, 2011
Hermitage arrives fashionably late to DonorsChoose http://t.co/9jkZT3hJ
ScientopiaBlogs
October 11, 2011
And we bow down to our readers' generosity!
WOOHOO! Some super generous person just donated $680 to @CdnGirlpostdoc 's project http://t.co/yLvN14KV @DonorsChoose
LSBlogs
October 11, 2011
You don't need to give hundreds of dollars to help (although if you can, don't let us stop you).
Even five dollars can get a classroom project a little bit closer to happening in the three-dimensional world.
The warm fuzzies you'll get from knowing you've helped are totally worth it.
If you can't spare five bucks, we understand. The economy is bad. But maybe tell your friends and family members who can spare five bucks about DonorsChoose, or about one of the specific projects in the challenge, and see if they can help.  (That entitles you to a share of their warm fuzzies, right?)

I'd be honored if you chose my giving page to supply your warm fuzzies.

Comments are off for this post

On fairness.

Because, it seems, the younger Free-Ride offspring and I have different ideas of what counts as fair.

Younger Free-Ride offspring: (noticing a song on the radio) Hey, it's "Poker Face". That song is really old.

Dr. Free-Ride: Yes.

Younger Free-Ride offspring: It must be like 15 years old.

Dr. Free-Ride: No, it's not.

Younger Free-Ride offspring: Yes, it is!

Dr. Free-Ride: Do you want to bet?

Younger Free-Ride offspring: OK, I'll bet you a dollar.

Dr. Free-Ride: You sure now? I'm going to fire up Wikipedia to verify the date. And I'm quite sure that the song is no more than five years old.

Younger Free-Ride offspring: Go ahead and check. And if I'm right, lets make it two bucks?

Dr. Free-Ride: What?

Younger Free-Ride offspring: Just look it up. If it's older than five years, I win, if it's less, you win.

Dr. Free-Ride: OK. See, it came out in 2008, which means it's only three years old. Will you be paying me my dollar now or later?

Younger Free-Ride offspring: That's no fair! You knew it was less than five years old.

Dr. Free-Ride: Yes, I did. That's why I was willing to bet on it.

Younger Free-Ride offspring: But I didn't know that you knew.

Dr. Free-Ride: But I told you I was certain.

Younger Free-Ride offspring: I thought you were wrong that you knew it. And it wasn't fair for you to bet me if you knew the answer for sure.

So, apparently, taking a gamble with too little uncertainty attached to it is unfair. Or maybe my crime is having absorbed some facts about young-person music.

* * * * *
Speaking of fairness, I don't think it's fair for public school kids to bear so much of the brunt of failing state and local budgets. If you agree, it would be awesome if you could donate even a few bucks to one of the projects in my giving page for the DonorsChoose Science Bloggers for Students 2011 drive.

And, for the next week, through the very last moment (Eastern Time) of Thursday, October 13th, bloggers in the challenge will be competing to get the most new donors to their giving pages. The five bloggers in the challenge who pick up the most new donors during this window will each receive a $50 gift certificate for ThinkGeek stuff.

I love ThinkGeek stuff, but I love reader participation even more -- which means, if you all can help me get to the top five so I can win that gift certificate, I'm going to turn around and give each of my donors a chance to win one, too! I'm prepared to give away a $50 gift certificate, a $25 gift certificate, and a $10 gift certificate to randomly drawn donors to my giving page (because that would be fair). Just forward me a copy of the email DonorsChoose sends you to confirm your donation to my giving page and you're in the drawing.

There may be some other incentives for your participation, too ... stay tuned!

2 responses so far

In which I put Stephen Colbert on notice and announce the kick-off of DonorsChoose Science Bloggers for Students 2011.

I'm putting Stephen Colbert on notice

Now that that's out of the way ...

In the science-y sectors of the blogosphere, folks frequently bemoan the sorry state of the public’s scientific literacy and engagement. People fret about whether our children are learning what they should about science, math, and critical reasoning. Netizens speculate on the destination of the handbasket in which we seem to be riding.

In light of the big problems that seem insurmountable, we should welcome the opportunity to do something small that can have an immediate impact.

This year, from October 2 through October 22, a number of science bloggers, whether networked, loosely affiliated, or proudly independent, will be teaming up with DonorsChoose in Science Bloggers for Students, a philanthropic throwdown for public schools.

DonorsChoose is a site where public school teachers from around the U.S. submit requests for specific needs in their classrooms — from books to science kits, overhead projectors to notebook paper, computer software to field trips — that they can’t meet with the funds they get from their schools (or from donations from their students’ families). Then donors choose which projects they’d like to fund and then kick in the money, whether it’s a little or a lot, to help a proposal become a reality.

Over the last few several, bloggers have rallied their readers to contribute what they can to help fund classroom proposals through DonorsChoose, especially proposals for projects around math and science, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, funding hundreds of classroom projects, and impacting thousands of students.

Which is great. But there are a whole lot of classrooms out there that still need help.

As economic experts scan the horizon for hopeful signs and note the harbingers of economic recovery, we should not forget that school budgets are still hurting (and are worse, in many cases, than they were last school year, since one-time lumps of stimulus money are gone now). Indeed, public school teachers have been scraping for resources since long before Wall Street’s financial crisis started. Theirs is a less dramatic crisis than a bank failure, but it’s here and it’s real and we can’t afford to wait around for lawmakers on the federal or state level to fix it.

The kids in these classrooms haven’t been making foolish investments. They’ve just been coming to school, expecting to be taught what they need to learn, hoping that learning will be fun. They’re our future scientists, doctors, teachers, decision-makers, care-providers, and neighbors. To create the scientifically literate world we want to live in, let’s help give these kids the education they deserve.

One classroom project at a time, we can make things better for these kids. Joining forces with each other people, even small contributions can make a big difference.

The challenge this year runs October 2 through October 22. We're overlapping with Earth Science Week (October 9-15, 2011) and National Chemistry Week (October 16-22, 2011), a nice chance for earth science and chemistry fans to add a little philanthropy to their celebrations. There are a bunch of Scientopia bloggers mounting challenges this year (check out some of their challenge pages on our leaderboard), as well as bloggers from other networks (which you can see represented on the challenge's motherboard). And, since today is the official kick-off, there is plenty of time for other bloggers and their readers to enter the fray!




How It Works:
Follow the links above to your chosen blogger’s challenge on the DonorsChoose website.

Pick a project from the slate the blogger has selected. Or more than one project, if you just can’t choose. (Or, if you really can’t choose, just go with the “Give to the most urgent project” option at the top of the page.)

Donate.

(If you’re the loyal reader of multiple participating blogs and you don’t want to play favorites, you can, of course, donate to multiple challenges! But you’re also allowed to play favorites.)

Sit back and watch the challenges inch towards their goals, and check the leaderboards to see how many students will be impacted by your generosity.

Even if you can’t make a donation, you can still help!
Spread the word about these challenges using web 2.0 social media modalities. Link your favorite blogger’s challenge page on your MySpace page, or put up a link on Facebook, or FriendFeed, or LiveJournal (or Friendster, or Xanga, or …). Tweet about it on Twitter (with the #scibloggers4students hashtag). Share it on Google +. Sharing your enthusiasm for this cause may inspire some of your contacts who do have a little money to get involved and give.

Here's the permalink to my giving page.

Thanks in advance for your generosity.

3 responses so far

Limits of ethical recycling.

In the "Ethics in Science" course I regularly teach, we spend some time discussing case studies to explore some of the situations students may encounter in their scientific training or careers where they will want to be able to make good ethical decisions.

A couple of these cases touch on the question of "recycling" pieces of old grant proposals or journal articles -- say, the background and literature review.

There seem to be cases where the right thing to do is pretty straightforward. For example, helping yourself to the background section someone else had written for her own grant proposal would be wrong. This would amount to misappropriating someone else's words and ideas without her permission and without giving her credit. (Plagiarism anyone?) Plus, it would be weaseling out of one's own duty to actually read the relevant literature, develop a view about what it's saying, and communicate clearly why it matters in motivating the research being proposed.

Similarly, reusing one's own background section seems pretty clearly within the bounds of ethical behavior. You did the intellectual labor yourself, and especially in the case where you are revising and resubmitting your own proposal, there's no compelling reason for you to reinvent that particular wheel (unless, if course, reviewer comments indicate that the background section requires serious revision, the literature cited ought to take account of important recent developments that were missing in the first round, etc.).

Between these two extremes, my students happened upon a situation that seemed less clear-cut. How acceptable is it to recycle the background section (or experimental protocol, for that matter) from an old grant proposal you wrote in collaboration with someone else? Does it make a difference whether that old grant proposal was actually funded? Does it matter whether you are "more powerful" or "less powerful" (however you want to cash that out) within the collaboration? Does it require explicit permission from the person with whom you collaborated on the original proposal? Does it require clear citation of the intellectual contribution of the person with whom you collaborated on the original proposal, even if she is not officially a collaborator on the new proposal?

And, in your experience, does this kind of recycling make more sense than just sitting down and writing something new?

10 responses so far

A question for the trainees: How involved do you want the boss to get with your results?

This question follows on the heels of my recent discussion of the Bengü Sezen misconduct investigations, plus a conversation via Twitter that I recapped in the last post.

The background issue is that people -- even scientists, who are supposed always to be following the evidence wherever it might lead -- can run into trouble really scrutinizing the results of someone they trust (however that trust came about). Indeed, in the Sezen case, her graduate advisor at Columbia University, Dalibor Sames, seemed to trust Sezen and her scientific prowess so much that he discounted the results of other graduate students in his lab who could not replicate Sezen's results (which turned out to have been faked).

Really, it's the two faces of the PI's trust here: trusting one trainee so much that her results couldn't be wrong, and using that trust to ignore the empirical evidence presented by other trainees (who apparently didn't get the same level of presumptive trust). As it played out, at least three of those other trainees whose evidence Sames chose not to trust left the graduate program before earning their degrees.

The situation suggests to me that PIs would be prudent to establish environments in their research groups where researchers don't take scrutiny of their results, data, methods, etc., personally -- and where the scrutiny is applied to each member's results, data, methods, etc. (since anyone can make mistakes). But how do things play out when they rubber hits the road?

So, here's the question I'd like to ask the scientific trainees. (PIs: I've posed the complementary question to you in the post that went up right before this one!)

In his or her capacity as PI, your advisor's scientific credibility (and likely his or her name) is tied to all the results that come out of the research group -- whether they are experimental measurements, analyses of measurements, modeling results, or whatever else it is that scientists of your stripe regard as results. Moreover, in his or her capacity as a trainer of new scientists, the boss has something like a responsibility to make sure you know how to generate reliable results -- and that you know how to tell them from results that aren't reliable. What does your PI do to ensure that the results you generate are reliable? Do you feel like it's enough (both in terms of quality control and in terms of training you well)? Do you feel like it's too much?

Commenting note: You may feel more comfortable commenting with a pseudonym for this particular discussion, and that's completely fine with me. However, please pick a unique 'nym and keep it for the duration of this discussion, so we're not in the position of trying to sort out which "Anonymous" is which. Also, if you're a regular commenter who wants to go pseudonymous for this discussion, you'll probably want to enter something other than your regular email address in the commenting form -- otherwise, your Gravatar may give your other identity away!

5 responses so far

A question for the PIs: How involved do you get in your trainees' results?

In the wake of this post that touched on recently released documents detailing investigations into Bengü Sezen's scientific misconduct, and that noted that a C & E News article described Sezen as a "master of deception", I had an interesting chat on the Twitters:

@UnstableIsotope (website) tweeted:

@geernst @docfreeride I scoff at the idea that Sezen was a master at deception. She lied a lot but plenty of opportunities to get caught.

@geernst (website) tweeted back:

@UnstableIsotope Maybe evasion is a more accurate word.

@UnstableIsotope:

@geernst I'd agree she was a master of evasion. But she was caught be other group members but sounds like advisor didn't want to believe it.

@docfreeride (that's me!):

@UnstableIsotope @geernst Possible that she was master of deception only in environment where people didn't guard against being deceived?

@UnstableIsotope:

@docfreeride @geernst I agree ppl didn't expect deception, my read suggests she was caught by group members but protected by advisor.

@UnstableIsotope:

@docfreeride @geernst The advisor certainly didn't expect deception and didn't encourage but didn't want to believe evidence

@docfreeride:

@UnstableIsotope @geernst Not wanting to believe the evidence strikes me as a bad fit with "being a scientist".

@UnstableIsotope:

@docfreeride @geernst Yes, but it is human. Not wanting to believe your amazing results are not amazing seems like a normal response to me.

@geernst:

@docfreeride @UnstableIsotope I agree. Difficult to separate scientific objectivity from personal feelings in those circumstances.

@docfreeride:

@geernst @UnstableIsotope But isn't this exactly the argument for not taking scrutiny of your results, data, methods personally?

@UnstableIsotope:

@docfreeride @geernst Definitely YES. I look forward to people repeating my experiments. I'm nervous if I have the only result.

@geernst:

@docfreeride @UnstableIsotope Couldn't agree more.

This conversation prompted a question I'd like to ask the PIs. (Trainees: I'm going to pose the complementary question to you in the very next post!)

In your capacity as PI, your scientific credibility (and likely your name) is tied to all the results that come out of your research group -- whether they are experimental measurements, analyses of measurements, modeling results, or whatever else it is that scientists of your stripe regard as results. What do you do to ensure that the results generated by your trainees are reliable?

Now, it may be the case that what you see as the appropriate level of involvement/quality control/"let me get up in your grill while you repeat that measurement for me" would still not have been enough to deter -- or to detect -- a brazen liar. If you want to talk about that in the comments, feel free.

Commenting note: You may feel more comfortable commenting with a pseudonym for this particular discussion, and that's completely fine with me. However, please pick a unique 'nym and keep it for the duration of this discussion, so we're not in the position of trying to sort out which "Anonymous" is which. Also, if you're a regular commenter who wants to go pseudonymous for this discussion, you'll probably want to enter something other than your regular email address in the commenting form -- otherwise, your Gravatar may give your other identity away!

3 responses so far

Tomorrow on Skeptically Speaking: animal research.

Sunday, May 8th, I'll be on the Skeptically Speaking radio program, as part of an episode looking at "the practical advantages, and the ethical pitfalls, of using animals in scientific and medical research".

The show records live (unlike most of my blog posts!) starting at 6 PM Mountain Time (5 PM Pacific Time/7 PM Central Time/8 PM Eastern Time). Or, if you have plans (perhaps with your Mother) at that time, the podcast will be available for download at 9 PM (Mountain Time) on Friday, May 13th.

If there are questions you'd like to submit for the show, the Skeptically Speaking website is taking them now.

By the way, the other guest for this episode will be Bill Barry, Chief Historian at NASA, who will be talking about the history of animals and spaceflight ... which is a perfect excuse for a Jonathan Coulton video:

Space Doggity

2 responses so far

Can nothing be done about the exam-talkers?

That isn't a typo -- the issue is students who talk to each other while taking exams.

I received the following via email from a reader (lightly edited to remove identifying details):

I'm wondering if you and your readers can help me analyze this situation.

I caught two students talking during an exam.

This is not the first time for this pair. The first time this happened, I explicitly communicated my expectations about conduct during an exam to all of my students, specifically stating that talking during an exam will be taken as cheating. The academic integrity section of the undergraduate bulletin also states that conversation during an exam is not allowed.

After the second incident, I wanted to penalize both students with a zero for said exam and forfeiture of the dropped-lowest-exam-score policy. The students immediately said they will appeal to the dean and their parents have been hounding the chair as well as the administration.

The message I'm getting now is that I cannot prove the talking during the exam actually took place (although I saw it). Not only that, I'm basically being bullied to drop it for fear that the parents will file a law suit, maybe because the administration has decided the university cannot deal with another scandal after a recent one fueled by alcohol.

My question is, when did talking during exams become acceptable? (That it's acceptable is the message I'm getting regardless of what's written in the academic bulletin). I have not been teaching long but have read about faculty being fearful of repercussions when reporting cheating students. I don't want to end up like that, compromising my principles for fear of repercussions such as loss of job (I'm not protected by tenure). Unfortunately, this is where I am headed. This whole incident is very demoralizing. Is it too much to expect students to abide by a shared code of conduct during exams? Is this response by chair and administration common?

I'm going to give my advice on this situation, but since my correspondent specifically requested help from you, the commentariat, please post your advice in the comments, making sure to point out ways you think my advice goes wrong.

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17 responses so far

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