Review frustration…

I have been reviewing six manuscripts in the last weeks. And half of them were written by young, inexperienced lead authors, with rather experienced senior authors. The typical setup for the first manuscript that results from a PhD project.

Which makes things interesting on the one hand – some genuinely interesting new thoughts. But it was also frustrating. Simply because all authors were struggling to explain things that they are quite familiar with to an outside audience – and were also often falling into the trap of trying to be complete (“I’ll explain the world on 20 manuscript pages”).

I (vaguely) remember my first attempts to put things on paper. And I also remember that at least one of my co-authors always took care of the manuscript before submission. Which obviously took him more time than writing the damn’ thing himself.

However, I can’t shake the feeling that a lot of the seniors are now trying to delegate this task to the external reviewers (or maybe I simply had bad luck with the manuscripts that ended on my desk). Anyway, the texts did very obviously did not go through any internal review prior to submission. That’s the only reason that I can come with why for example a manuscript led by a non-native speaker with no publication record to be found in Scopus, but with a (very) experienced US senior author has dozens of spelling and grammar mistakes.

Frustrating for (almost) everybody involved – and cudos to everybody who actually does invest the time to go through the manuscript with his/her PhD student before submitting it to a journal.

Thomas (slightly annoyed)

Final Marine Paint Conference in Gothenburg

We presented the results of the Marine Paint programme at its final conference here in Gothenburg at the beginning of this week. And we also took the opportunity to discuss things with a couple of journalists. So, if you can follow Swedish, here’s the pressrelease from the University and the corresponding article in Göteborgs Posten, the local newspaper.

If you prefer German, here’s the interview that I did with Deutschlandfunk:

      interview-Deutschlandfunk

We’ll post an English summary of the conference on our homepage soon.

Thomas

Buying a new laptop. Easy…? Nope.

That should be simple, given the ample range of different brands and models: I need a new laptop. However, after a couple of minutes and suddenly becoming somewhat frustrated: nobody is producing a decent professional laptop any more. Full stop, end of story.

Sure, you get them with 1 TB hard drives, dolby surround audio system, 4-core processors, 8 GByte memory, and an interface to your coffee machine. No problem. But you can’t get any with a decent screen.

What I mean: all models, from all the brands now have 16:9 screens, an extremly lenghty format that is perfect for watching movies and stuff. But for working (and for me that has a lot to do with writing, either texts or source code, or digging around databases) that format is absolute crap. There is a reason why you use an ordinary piece of paper in portrait orientation (shorter side horizontal) and not in landscape (longer side horizontal). Landscape orientiation simply makes the lines of a text too long to read, and/or you don’t get enough lines on the screen (while the right half of the screen simply goes empty). So much for the professionalism of the “professional models”.

When talking to the technical support of our main IT-supplier, he could see my point – and he even had a great solution: “just buy a docking station and a big stationary screen”. Perfect – that’s why I’m trying to buy a laptop (aka “mobile computer”). I wonder what the flight crew on my next flight might say if I try to bring a docking station and a big screen on board and start looking for the power outlets…

Thomas

PS.: Not that it would help, but interestingly enough the IPad seems to have the old 4:3 format.

The oil spill.. and update on the recent developments (sort of)

I guess, most has really been said, discussed and denied concerning the oil spill. But, as a European, I still find it highly interesting to follow the actions and reactions in the US. And who could put an overview of the current developments together better than Patrik Stewart? So, here are two recent clips from The Daily Show. Laugh’ or Cry? Your choice…

Thomas

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Day 59 – Judgment Day – The Strife Aquatic
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Day 62 – The Strife Aquatic
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

The internet, multitasking and actual learning

I just came across a highly interesting – and slightly worrying – article from Nicolas Carr in Wired. In short, the article analyses the impact that modern information technologies have on our learning behaviour and our perception of information. It discusses the impact of typical information retrieval strategies on our abilities to actually think, reflect and develop ideas – in short, to actually make use of all the information that is available to us.

And unfortunately, it looks as if the net  actually does a very good job in distracting us from the real thing, as it seems to encourage the superfical skimming of a multitude of information, while at the same time hampering a deeper engagement with what we’ve read / perceived.

Some of the thoughts are not really new, they remind me a lot on Neil Postmans texts (“Amusing ourselves to death”, still very much recommended!). However, a major difference seems to be that now, even when we try to be productive, modern information technology seems to be yet another distraction that tempts us to loose focus.

Food for thought… I have to admit, that some of the behavioral patterns described the text sound awfully familar. Maybe we should be a bit more carefully evaluating the role of electronic, web-based tools, media and information sources in science and teaching?

Thomas