Poles Apart Yet Poles Together

Post provided by Matt Davey

Earlier this summer, I attended a rather unique conference – Polar2018 in Davos, Switzerland. This conference brought together the two major committees that help govern and coordinate Arctic, Alpine and Antarctic research around the globe – the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR) – who also celebrates their 60th Anniversary this year – and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC).

With nearly 2500 delegates over one week it was impressive how talks and sessions kept to time, posters went up and came down, and coffee (good coffee, served with correctly cooked croissants!) was served. The level of organisation you’d hope to see at all conferences, big or small. The venue for Polar2018 was also home to the G7 world economic forum summits and staff seemed at ease with only having 2500 delegates to deal with…

From day one, there was persistent message throughout the conference. Not only does the rest of the human populated world affect the polar environments, but in response, any change in polar ecosystem and environment functioning (biological and non-biological) has a large knock-on effect on the rest of the world. Continue reading

Virtually Trekking Across the Pond with the Newest Senior Editor: Aaron M. Ellison

Post Provided by Aaron Ellison

I’m delighted to be the newest member of the diverse team of Senior and Associate Editors who have made Methods in Ecology and Evolution one of the premier journals in the field. After 15 years working on the lead editorial teams of Ecology and Ecological Monographs, I’m really looking forward to applying my editorial energies to the ESA’s friendly competitor on the other side of the ‘pond’.

My background includes:

  • an undergraduate degree in East Asian Philosophy
  • a PhD in evolutionary ecology
  • research and teaching on the natural history and population, community, and landscape ecology of plants and animals (mostly invertebrates) in the marine intertidal and subtidal, among salt marshes and mangroves, tropical and temperate forests, and carnivorous plant bogs
  • extensive forays into statistics, mathematics, and software engineering
  • increasing attention to the history and practice of art and architecture and their relationship to ecological theory
  • a quirky social-media persona
  • and more than two decades of work in editing and publishing journals with scientific societies.

All of these things contribute to my open, catholic approach to scientific research, teaching, and publishing, and their relationship to the broader world.

The editors of Methods are always interested in seeing papers on methodological advances and approaches that lead to new directions. We love reading about creative solutions for new challenges in ecological and evolutionary research and applications in the broadest sense. As a new Senior Editor, I’m especially hoping to encourage more papers in three areas: field methods (about which I’ve published two of my own papers in Methods), reproducibility, and science communication. Continue reading

A Video is Worth a Million Words: Why You Should Make a Video about YOUR Article

Post provided by NATHALIE PETTORELLI & CHRIS GRIEVES

Why should you make a video about your article?

Why should you make a video about your article?

With impact being considered more and more in promotion applications and REF-style (Research Excellence Framework) exercises, science communication is becoming an integral part of a scientist’s job. The problem is: most of us academics aren’t exactly trained in science outreach and our communication styles are heavily biased towards anything written, as opposed to anything visual.

With technological advancements constantly making things easier, however, more and more scientists are taking the plunge and adventuring into the world of YouTube and Vimeo to disseminate their work. But why are they doing so? Is it easy? Do you need expert help or can you do it yourself easily?

This blog post aims to answer all the questions and worries you may have as a scientist thinking of making a video about your work for the first time. To address these worries and questions in the most comprehensive way, we asked 12 authors who recently produced a video about their paper (in some cases their first) if they could give us some insights on their experience, and detail for us the challenges and benefits of choosing this style of communication. Their stories are the background to our story. Continue reading

Writing Manuscripts: The Alternative ‘Guide to Authors’

Post provided by EMMA SAYER

If the reviewer doesn't get it, you haven't explained it clearly enough! © Chelm261

If the reviewer doesn’t get it, you haven’t explained it clearly enough! ©Chelm261

“If the reviewer doesn’t get it, you haven’t explained it clearly enough!” This is one quote from my PhD supervisor that I haven’t forgotten. Getting research funded and published depends to a very large extent on our ability to get the point across. Although scientific texts appear to differ wildly from other forms of writing, a good research paper actually follows the same basic principles of effective communication as a newspaper article or advertising text.

There are some fairly simple guidelines on presenting and structuring written information to get the point across and highlight the key messages that are very useful for manuscripts, thesis chapters, proposals, basically any kind of academic writing. At Functional Ecology, we’ve collected tips and tricks from various sources to help authors effectively communicate their research and ideas. Here are our key points:

1) Know Your Audience

A research paper is about communicating your research in a way that makes sense to others. © Vinch

A research paper is about communicating your research in a way that makes sense to others. © Vinch

The central principle for any type of communication is: know your audience. A research paper isn’t just about presenting information – it’s about communicating your research to others. When you start preparing a manuscript, you need to think about who will read it. In the first instance, this is probably a busy editor or reviewer, so you should make sure that you get your key messages across without making your readers work too hard. Good science writing isn’t about using clever-sounding words and sentences, it’s about getting the point across in such a way that readers can understand the research and reach the right conclusion (i.e. the one you want them to reach). Continue reading

How Much Methodology Should go into Conference Talks?

The following post was written by Tim Poisot. To see the original version, please visit his blog.

Tim is an Associate Editor who works on Applications submissions for Methods in Ecology and Evolution. His research interests include spatial and temporal dynamics of species interactions at the community level, the relevance of variability in community structure on emerging ecosystem properties, and the evolutionary dynamics of multi-species assemblages.

I am back from the centennial meeting of the Ecological Society of America. I met a lot of great people, saw a lot of great talks, and had lovely discussions. One thing that has been in the back of my mind for a while though, is the question of how much methodology should go into an oral presentation?

How much methodology should be in your presentation? © Phil Whitehouse

How much methodology should be in your presentation? © Phil Whitehouse

Methods are important  —  over the last two years I have found that this has been the part of papers I criticize the most during peer review. Any result is only as robust as its least robust element and there are, in ecology, enough sources of variability that we do not want methods to add any more. As a consequence, appreciating a result and its robustness require that we be able to understand and evaluate the methods by which this result has been obtained.

There are a few elements to evaluating a method. Does it rely on a sound and tested theory? Is it properly applied? Is the method correctly implemented? All of these questions (and some more) should be asked —  and answered in the affirmative  —  before we decide to accept a result. If not, we are putting ourselves in the position to blindly accept what we are being told. Continue reading