The problem with (academic) Mastodon

A bit more than 2 months ago, I signed up to Mastodon (again). I did spend a few moments to pick a relevant home, but by now I’m pretty sure I identified the key problem with Mastodon: it’s far too relevant! That’s right, I learn about a larger number of interesting and relevant publications, and more importantly, I get exposure to a more diverse set of opinions and perspectives. Diversity in perspectives is a good thing, but more reading — can’t we get an algorithm to throw in irrelevant messages instead, just so that there’s an endless supply of messages⸮⸮

OK, more seriously, compared to what was formerly considered a competitor product, the Mastodon experience I get on is much more on target, less news, less TikTok content, and none of these annoying attempts to make me subscribe to topics and “famous” people.

Why We Habitually Engage in Null-Hypothesis Significance Testing…

You should head over to PLOS to read this paper by Jonah Stunt et al. It’s the first qualitative study I’ve come across at PLOS, but it’s definitely worth a read to better understand why we’re still surrounded by p-values.

One thing I missed in the paper is a hint that we don’t have to engage in frequentists null-hypothesis significance testing. I realize that the authors are interested in the sociology of science here, but we have plenty of statements in the article how difficult it’d be to learn about alternative methods. It doesn’t have to be: We do have packages like rstanarm or software like JASP that do not leave much room for such excuses.

Stunt, Jonah, Leonie van Grootel, Lex Bouter, David Trafimow, Trynke Hoekstra, and Michiel de Boer. 2021. “Why We Habitually Engage in Null-Hypothesis Significance Testing: A Qualitative Study.” PLOS ONE 16(10):e0258330. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0258330.

Read Your Manuscript Aloud

No, I don’t mean you should read your paper at a conference, that’s just too boring to listen to (so even if you have something interesting to say, we might not be paying attention). You should read your manuscript aloud before submitting it to a journal (or an abstract before you submit it to a conference). Reading aloud is quite useful to check the manuscript because doing so slows you down: you read it more carefully — and you might spot things you want to change.

Keeping Notes of What You Are Reading

One thing academics do a lot (most of them anyway) is reading. No matter whether you read in the library, on the train, or seated in front of the fire, keeping notes of what you read is a good idea. Let’s face it, nobody is going to remember all the papers they read. Here are three tools you might want to try: Docear (free, open source), Mendeley (free), Zotero (free, open source, possibly together with Zotfile, also free and open source). Which one is best? Try them all for a while and see what works best for you, what fits best with your workflow. Irrespective of the system you end up using, you should take systematic notes for greater efficiency/reduced frustration when trying to pin down that paper you’re looking for. And if there are really important bits, store them in your brain because no search will be better than that…