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The Library, the collection

When it’s done right it is a wonderful thing. The collection dedicated to meeting a specific need: carefully selected, sensibly arranged, appropriately indexed, comprehensive in its coverage and range of formats. It is precisely calibrated to meet a need. On its own it is a collection – worthy of celebration. Continue reading

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In which green means go

It’s often been said that witnessing your child grow up is akin to scientific experiment – an intense longitudinal observational study with no control group.

As a fan of language in all of its nuances, it’s been fascinating watching Joshua learn to talk. He just turned three last Friday, and he’s already a dab hand at rudime Continue reading

Posted in Domestic bliss, Scientific thinking, Work/life balance | Leave a comment

Paradigm – the sculpture

Recently I attended the first public event at the Francis Crick Institute’s new building next to St Pancras.  Ironically the event was not about science but was a conversation with an artist, sculptor Conrad Shawcross. He created the enormous sculpture outside the new Crick building. The sculpture is called Paradigm, and was inspired by the t Continue reading

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Nature this week published its annual (and international) survey on salaries. As the article points out, many respondents use the survey as a means of venting, so the survey also provides a snapshot of (self-selecting and therefore not necessarily representative) attitudes towards jobs and careers from around the world. Many people are happy. A con Continue reading

Posted in advice, careers, early career researchers, Royal Society, Science Culture | Leave a comment

In which the calm cowers before the storm

Can you hear it?

Yes, that’s the sound of a distinct lack of undergraduates knocking around the place. Even the summer lab students have departed, off for a few weeks of R&R or debauchery before the grind kicks back in again.

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Posted in academia, students, Teaching, The profession of science | Leave a comment

Withdrawal Symptoms

As a new PI what advice is likely to be of assistance? Eight of us old hands were recently asked by the THE to write some words of wisdom, which newly-minted PI’s may or may not have found useful. Their tenor varied. There was ‘Don’t worry: we are all just making it up as we go along’ from Cambridge colleague Ottoline Leyser – which sounds quite en Continue reading

Posted in advice, early career researchers, mentoring, principal investigator, Research, Science Culture | Leave a comment

Freeing the Brain

I’ve been away for the past week somewhere where I really could escape my email. (My previous post about whether one should read email on holiday was written with feeling!) When I go away I particularly like to go somewhere with water, frequently close to the sea. This year I had the pleasure of staying in a cottage overlooking the River Wye. Continue reading

Posted in academia, holidays, River Wye | Leave a comment

The Lasker book prize

Well, not really.

The 2016 Lasker~Koshland Special Achievement Award in Medical Science has been given to Bruce M. Alberts for “Discoveries in DNA replication, and leadership in science and education”.

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Pride and Prejudice and journal citation distributions: final, peer reviewed version

Today sees the publication on bioRxiv of a revised version of our preprint outlining “A simple proposal for the publication of journal citation distributions.” Our proposal, explained in more detail in this earlier post, encourages publishers to help mitigate the distorting effects on research assessment of journal impact factors (JIFs) by providin Continue reading

Posted in Academic publishing, Preprints | Leave a comment

Goodbye David – my brother and childhood hero

My older brother, David McLain, died suddenly of a heart attack on August 18, 2016. He was only 51 years old and none of us saw this coming. He was a force of nature, my big brother, I already miss the hell out of him – right down to his more stupid jokes. I can still just about remember the sheer joy of me and David rolling down the hill i Continue reading

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Failure in Real Life

Before my university term starts, I have two dates towards the end of September to talk to young women. One of these is directed at girls of school age, the other women at PhD level, to try to encourage them that science and women mix perfectly well and careers in science may be satisfying and fruitful (note, I don’t just mean academic science eith Continue reading

Posted in Communicating Science, CV, Outreach, school children, Science Culture, Stuart Firestein | Leave a comment

Changing horizons

Much years. So change. Sniff. 

I have left the place where I worked for the past (almost) 27 years and I have started in a new place of work. Continue reading

Posted in Libraries and librarians | Leave a comment

Commuting and communities

Biodiversity in Stevenage

Biodiversity in Stevenage
Stevenage, Hertfordshire

Crick's Corner, 80 Dartmouth Park Hill, London N19

Outpost of The Crick, closed Sundays after 1pm
80 Dartmouth Park Hill, London N19

Posted in Life, Meta, Photography, Skies, Stevenage, The Crick | Leave a comment

Sanexit would make Brexit look like child’s play

For months I have been avoiding a critical civic duty, and have abstained from writing about the political situation in the US. Not from a lack of conviction or interest in the situation. No, I find myself obsessed with the presidential race–so much so, that I check 8 different poll aggregates multiple times a day, to try to reassure myself. Continue reading

Posted in Brexit, Clinton, conspiracy, Democrats, insults, president, presidential elections, Republicans, Sanexit, Trump, tweet, US elections | Leave a comment

Flexible Working or Never Switched Off?

A number of years ago I noticed that the secretary to the committee I was chairing was regularly sending me emails late at night. Concerned the organisation was overloading the woman so that she could only catch up by working 10 or 12 hour days, I inquired gently what was going on. ‘It’s my choice’, she said, ‘I like having time at the end of the s Continue reading

Posted in careers, email, part-time, Pressure, Science Culture | Leave a comment