Thursday, April 11, 2013

testing my patience

I really can get annoyed when I review papers and I get the impression that the authors have been sloppy in their writing and force me now to dig through all the typos and unfinished sentences to understand if the science is good. Usually this really frustrates me, because it takes so much more time and patience to read such a paper than it would be if someone would have done just a proper proof reading. Even a typo check in Word would sometimes really help or one more iteration with a colleague who really cares. And I'm not even a native speaker and don't pick up most of the style issues and "accent" based wordings, but stuff like this usually drives me nuts.
And now I have this grant proposal to review. My plan for this years reviewing round was to set all the style things aside and just focus on the science. Not get annoyed about stuff that the proposal actually isn't about. And on the first glance the paper was structured well: not too much text, nice paragraphs, nothing to complain about. And the science is interesting and fancy and bold and so far I think it should be funded. 
But then there are two things I find really hard to overlook while reading and judging this proposal: first is, that the whole vibe of the proposal is close to arrogant. You have to sell yourself, of course, but this group just appears so overly self-confident, it just drips from every line. Akh! And this whole vibe jumps totally in your face when you come to realize that they copied and pasted whole paragraphs to use them in several spots of their proposal. Most of the researchers applying for funding spend so much time to have a really good proposal and they go through several iterations to get everything as close to perfect as possible. And this group didn't even bother spending time to re-word a few paragraphs and adapt them properly to the specific sections. Akh! If I could suggest to fund the science without funding this group, I totally would at the moment.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Australian way of academic fashion

Scicurious on Neurotic Physiology wrote this interesting bit about the male/female double standard when it comes to "what to wear" in a university setting.
The topic got a lot of comments, mostly agreeing that the pressure to dress nice for work is much higher for female academics than for their male colleagues and is needed to be taken seriously by colleagues and students. Many of the commentators come from a US background and reflect pretty much my impression of dress-code behavior on American conferences. The few non-US contributors draw a bit of a different picture: that it is not so necessary to be neatly dressed-up including nice bits of jewelry and make-up to feel comfortable and to be taken seriously at work - neither for men nor for women.
The Australian way on the fashion topic is a bit special though: on the one hand Australians care a lot about what they wear and how they look. Not only when they go to a horse race, but at the beach, in the shopping malls, for a quick dinner at the Asian restaurant around the corner and for work as well. Australians wear stuff to work that I'd consider wearing for a cocktail party. Women usually appear better dressed, but men have a good sense for style as well. But in academia these social rules don't seem to apply. Here everybody dress as they please and looking at the university-wide professor and post-doc level you can find a great mix of everything. I haven't seen anybody in holey sweatpants yet, but both women and men cover the whole range from comfy clothes up to "nearly too nice for work". The (mostly male) post-docs and young academics in my institute are usually dressed in a nice "buttoned shirt and comfy pants" way and this is sometimes so inherent to them, that they forget to dress up when they go to an American conference.
I don't think that Australia is the "holy land" where people (in academia) are not judged by their looks, but it's maybe a bit more relaxed than in the US. And this setting gives me a great playground to experiment with work fashion and to pimp my tomboyish wardrobe without risking getting too much attention for it in one or the other way.