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Post Archive
2020 (0)2010 (39)
December (3)

It's not "goodbye," it's...
Friday, December 17, 2010

I can haz music warz?
Thursday, December 2, 2010

Two weeks
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
November (10)

Interviews, for reals!
Thursday, November 18, 2010

Can I get a pdf of this?
Thursday, November 18, 2010

SfN 2010 Day 5: A video featuring Tideliar and Dr Becca
Wednesday, November 17, 2010

SfN 2010 Day 3: A video featuring Tideliar and Dr Becca
Monday, November 15, 2010

SfN Day 2 (better late than never)
Monday, November 15, 2010

SfN 2010, Day 1: a video blog featuring Tideliar and Dr Becca
Saturday, November 13, 2010

30,000 people is not actually that many people
Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We have a winner, and a cocktail!
Sunday, November 7, 2010

You. Immortalized. In a cocktail.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Time for BANTER!!!
Monday, November 1, 2010
October (8)

Your PowerPoint and You
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Have I told you lately that I love you?
Thursday, October 21, 2010

So I have an Interview.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's bribe time
Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Research Blogging: The Postpartum Brain
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's Business Time
Friday, October 8, 2010

That time I was on TV
Thursday, October 7, 2010

What?! Only 300 thread-count and no robe? Two stars!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
September (5)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Let me give you my card
Thursday, September 23, 2010

I gotta have some of your attention, give it to me!
Saturday, September 18, 2010

My Science Enemy
Monday, September 13, 2010

What I wish I knew before...I moved to New York City
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
August (9)July (4)
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Dr Becca, Ph.D.

Dr Becca can now be found at .

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Comment by marguerite in SABOTAGE!!!

So nice to know I'm not the only paranoid one. :-) But sad to know that sometimes "just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean their not after you". :-( **Off to go check prices for tiny cam. . .Read More
Jan 10, 2011, 8:39pm
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Monday, August 2, 2010

I remember being a first-year grad student, sitting and having beers with some other first-year grad students and one of the "cool" PIs. We were talking about papers, and how much we thought some of them sucked. Cool PI smiled, and told us that she, too, had been ready to tear pretty much everything to shreds when she was a grad student and post-doc, but that as she grew older and wiser, she became more thoughtful, less quick to judge. Naturally, we were all quite surprised to hear this--we all expected to do more tearing things to shreds!

Since beginning my post-doc, I get reviewer requests maybe 2 times a year, which is just infrequently enough for me to be sort of flattered and happy about doing it. Cool PI's advice has really stuck with me, and I always try to be balanced in my comments, thinking carefully about the paper and finding something nice to say before considerately listing my concerns.

Sometimes, though? I can't help it. The paper is such absolute shit that the 3rd reviewer** in me starts begging to be let out, and I give in just a teensy bit. In the actual review I remain, to the best of my abilities, a paragon of equanimity and tact. In my head, however, it sounds more like this:

To the editors:

It is beyond comprehension how we live in a world in which the final author of this manuscript has an independently funded lab and I don't. The experiments contained herein--if one could even call them experiments--are poorly defined, uncontrolled, and lack any basis in the existing literature. To say that the methods are incomplete would be to expand the definition of "incomplete" beyond any semblance of its original meaning. What's that? OK fair enough, that last bit makes little sense.

The authors neglect to note the way in which their animals were sacrificed, yet it must be presumed that the animals were, indeed, sacrificed, as analysis of "the cortex" is claimed to have been done. Pray tell, would it have been too much to report which region(s) of the cortex were analyzed? It's just that I'm so curious! Of course, "analyzed" may be overstating the case, as no actual measurements or calculations were done--it is simply stated that the two experimental groups look different.

In sum, to allow this manuscript to progress even one step toward publication would be an insult to all that ever was or henceforth will be considered "science."

Respectfully yours,
Dr Becca

** In case you missed it, the "3rd reviewer" refers to to one of many Downfall parodies, particularly one in which the subtitles are altered to suggest that Hitler is a PI receiving reviews of his recently submitted manuscript. He is informed that the first two reviewers had generally favorable comments, but that a 3rd reviewer was, shall we say, considerably more harsh. Hitler is not pleased, and utters the now-infamous catchphrase, "F%*$ REVIEWER 3!!!!!" Naturally, this being a parody, it is also exactly how things happen in real life, too.

The 3rd Reviewer is also now a real website, where anyone can comment anonymously on recent high-profile neuroscience and microbiology publications. Fun!

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Blog Comments

Genomic Repairman
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I find my internal 3rd reviewer tries to rear his ugly head whenever my boss lets me review a manuscript for him. But then you have to remember what journal its going into and could you hold yourself to your own exacting standards if you were trying to publish there too.

Guest Comment
I have to admit that I often wanted to write similar comments to editors sending me crap !

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I think the reason why graduate students and early postdocs are so critical of other peoples' work is that they often have an incorrect assumption about both how feasible and how much effort is required to produce their preferred solutions. I can't recall the number of times that suggestions on a paper that the person thought would be a few months and a figure or two, when it would actually be a good year and en entire paper's worth of work.

Really getting a feel for this only comes with experience, at which point people are better at weighing "the improvement of the scientific argument versus the amount of effort required to achieve it". In many cases, it's the case that the approach is "good enough"
unbalanced reaction

Guest Comment
HAHAHAH! Awesome. Nat brings up a good point, too. My perspective on reviewing has changed a LOT now that I have my own research group to worry about (even if they are "just" undergrads!).

Genomic Repairman
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I agree with Nat's comment, at first we don't know the busting ass to elevating the science ratio. We can be cavalier suggesting they do these experiments, but shit what if reagents don't exist and how much time is it going to take just to get that one figure to satisfy one reviewer?

Guest Comment
Ha, ha - I recently received my first request to review (hey- I'm new!) and felt exactly the same. Taming the 3rd will be a problem... I guess I'll learn in the process. Loved the post!
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