Monday, April 29, 2019

how to review papers you havn't even read...

with apologies to Pierre Bayard, who wrote much more amusingly about how to talk about books you havn't even read and covered all the territory and more.

First, you've seen the title and abstract, so you can extrapolate from your deep knowledge of the area what a good paper on this topic would look like. of course, as an editor or esteemed member of the program committee, you would no doubt write such a paper but someone else must necessarily have made some small or even more significant errors in framing the problem, or overlooked much related work that could have led them to a better result, and so you must point out your previous work to them in some detail.

Second, you've seen a talk about this subject recently, and so of course this paper is really too late to the table, and can't bring anything new, deeper, or surprising that wasn't already in the talk.

Third, you read a monograph, book, or even survey paper of this area recently, and the topic is completely as dead as a dodo - there really can't be anything new to mine here anyhow.

Fourth, this paper has been submitted to this venue, which isn't very good anyhow, and you resent the extra work, so you expect it is full of mistakes and the abstract looks like it was written in Word anyhow, so it can't be any use.

Fifth, the idea sounds good, so you better reject the paper and finish your work on the same topic super quick or else you will have been gazumped.

Sixth, the words in the abstract look very much like words in wikipedia that you've seen recently, and you strongly suspect plagiarism, so you cut and paste a review you wrote of a similar paper.

Seventh, the title includes a word spelled in an unusual way, and you guess that the author's first language is Cobol, and that therefore they have had no new ideas since 1971, although some of those ideas did make quite a bit of money, which means they really don't need any more publications or a bigger H-Index.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

skipping stones

the stones skipped over the lake. quite making it to the far shore.

Time and again the girl tried to out-do her brother, but time and again, she drew.

She packed up the picnic things and went back to the cottage to carry on with her easter homework. Her book tells her:

It seems that every 65-70 million years on earth, there is another mass extinction event, when 75-95% of the species of the planet are destroyed. This is followed by a rapid period of evolution when huge numbers of new species emerge, and then a long slow period of stability as creatures and plants find their niche in the new eco-system. This has become known as "punctuated equilibrium".

She thinks back to the anger she packed into each throw of a sliver of slate, imagining it striking the surface of the water like a time bomb, exploding a piece to bounce away again, leaving ripples spreading outwards from each impact.

There couldn't be a link, could there? 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

becoming an expert....just how much does it take?

a typical university pub discussion descended briefly into the "you can't criticise domain X because you have no expertise" yesterday - maybe fair enough, maybe not - in this particular case, domain was economics - so how much does one have to read to have some informed view on economics?
I realize that in some subjects/disciplines, there is also the underlying "cannon" or even several churches of the true faith (Adam Smith, Marx, Keynes, Hayek, Friedman, Kahneman etc etc, which i've actually read:) but perhaps doing an economics degree gives some magic edge?

I'm not so sure - firstly, doing any degree at all gives one the training to know how to study a further subject on ones own, and to find form and structure, and critically  absorb. Secondly, disciplines are constantly changing, and so it depends how long since one worshipped at the alter of this or that font of academic wisdom, whether the official qualification has any especial value over being "self taught". Of course, I'm assuming basic numeracy, literacy, and critical thinking - but that is what anyone with a BA or BSc in anything has.

So just for background, here's some of what I've read overlapping economics and my own "expertise" (computer science, maybe, and cyberspace, perhaps) because I like to stay informed - in the last 5+ years (this is a subset - in some cases, I went and looked at data or source papers):-

That may look like a bit of an arbitrary list, but its mine:-)