Unsolicited Advice: Writing Part IV… A Proper Paragraph

So, let’s see, we’ve covered sentences and passive vs. active voice… I’m doing things a little out of order. I’m going to try to build on the sentence, and take you all to the paragraph in this one.

I somehow feel that this is high school stuff, or maybe even elementary school stuff.  I’ve seen BigA write some quality 4th grade paragraphs that put the writing of undergraduate college students to shame. However, I recognize that she is extraordinary and that public education in this country might not be what it used to be (Sniff,… sob!), that my dad may have been only dad holding the red pen to a kid’s writing in high school, and that I was a prolific letter writer in the snail-mail era.

Good Education+Tough Critic+Lots of Practice = Ability to write killer reasonable paragraph.

The paragraph is a unit used to convey a unified thought, Continue reading

Dear DrDrA… (Postdoc vs. Technician?) (UPDATED)

I received the following letter:

Dear DrDrA-

I was going through your blog yesterday trying to find any advice about whom to hire as a first lab personnel when you start a new lab. Is it ideally a technician, experienced, or fresh? Or a postdoc? I have interviewed a postdoc candidate who is eager to join and a too experienced lab assistant whose boss has lost all the grants.  Somebody advised me never to hire a postdoc until I get somehow established, because he/she will just grab my projects and be gone with them. If you could give me suggestions, I would appreciate it very much.

Sincerely, Fresh Jr. Faculty Member (!)

I wrote a little reply, and here’s what I said.  I’m blogging it though, so y’all can add your 2 cents worth- and remind we where we have had this discussion before.. Continue reading

Unsolicited Advice: Writing, Part 1

Ever since Physioprof wrote a post about how to write a sentence, I’ve wanted to write some posts about writing. I was mulling this over, and then DrMrA gave me this book by Stephen King entitled ‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’. I’ve been enjoying this book (and occasionally laughing out loud) every morning from 7 – 8 am while I’m sweating my guts out in the gym. Despite the fact that the book is about writing fiction, so many of the fine Mr. King’s points can be applied to scientific writing as well. If you write anything more than a couple of words long-you must read this book.

It is going to take a bunch of posts to cover everything I want to say about writing. Continue reading

Is it UNFAIR to have women’s faculty groups?

Yesterday I wrote a rather lengthy post about a women’s faculty group that I have started at my institution. While I strongly believe that this is a very important support and mentoring group to have in place for mentoring, retaining, and promoting women faculty, who as a minority have some unique issues in academia, I have come to realize that having such groups may be more controversial than you might at first imagine.  After all, in my observations and conversations with various faculty- here on the blog and in real life- it seems like organized junior faculty mentoring in general is: A. very passive, and B. pretty pathetic across the board (I’m protected from this in my department through some active efforts, thankfully).  And hey- in general- men in academia might benefit from some mentoring as well- so, why should women faculty be singled out for special treatment??? Continue reading

How to make sure you don’t get what you want.

There was an excellent post a couple of days ago by Comrade Physioprof about writing research plans as part of your application package for a tenure track faculty position. But, despite its excellence, the post is not what I want to talk about here- because I found the comment thread rather more instructive in more ways than one. I urge you all to go over there for career advice- because here I’m going to talk about something else.

I said a couple of days ago that if you wanted to get what it is that you want, professionally speaking of course, you are going to have to speak up, repeatedly, and sometimes loudly. There are ways to do this effectively and ways that aren’t going to help you. Continue reading

Learn to USE your voice.

In one of my recent posts I bemoaned the fact that sometimes I do a whole lot of asking for the same thing over and over again, without being listened to. I want to make it perfectly 100% crystal clear that fatigue of asking should under no circumstances cause you to give up and go away. I was reading a post written by Abel Pharmboy today– which continues the discussion about what allies of women in science can (and frankly should) do to increase the participation of women in science, and help those that are already there.

Abel posts a letter he received from an esteemed female scientist- relating to a panel discussion on work-family balance that this person attended-  where the panelists didn’t speak to the heart of the important issues.  It seems that those well-intentioned panelists themselves didn’t understand the important issues for the audience here- and the audience gave them a kick in the pants Continue reading

I want you to hear me, I don’t care what you see…

In my absence I picked up a whiff of a lot of chatter about what women scientists wear to work… or talk/write about wearing …. going on in the blogosphere.  I thought about this quite a bit, I fretted about it, I wrote out a blog post longhand because I didn’t have a computer handy while on vacation. I am sure many of the regular readers of this blog know what discussion I’m talking about so I’m not going to give you all the links- it involved the usual suspects.

And now I’m going to say something that is going to surprise you I’m sure- I am not going to talk about what female scientists wear to work, what is appropriate, Continue reading

Unsolicited Advice: Geography, Spouses and the Job Search.(updated)

Abel pharmboy has a very nice post up today about the application process- and casting a wide net as part of the discussion started by Physioprof and hijacked by me…. which you can all go over there and read.  Dr. Free-Ride has a comment on that post-… which I will quote here… because I’ve got to say a thing or two about it…

From experience, geography is a constraint if one has a partner whose career is not fully portable, and especially if you both have kids whose care you want to be a part of.

I get this, I do. I am part of a two academic career partnership and we have two kids. Continue reading

Unsolicited Advice: Geography and the Job Search.

Physioprof has posted over at Drugmonkey today about the foolishness of limiting where you apply for a faculty position – in response to a post from Dr. Brazen Hussy at her site. I’m here to tell you he’s right on the money on this one.  Both PP and I have posted on this previously at various times (I’m too lazy to dig up the links right now)- – and I started writing a rather lengthy comment over at DM about limiting where you apply based on geography (in response to a couple of the comments), and thought I’d just make a blog post out of it instead.

Just as a disclaimer from Continue reading

It’s the season…Academic Job Search Reposts..

It’s prime season for looking for an academic position. Departments have evaluated their needs and desires for hiring for fall 2009, have put out their ads and are looking for the best candidates. I know several postdocs out on the academic job search trail even as I write, and even my own department is hiring. Before I have to spend a good portion of my time in the gym working off all those dinners I’m about Continue reading