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senseless self-citation April 28, 2014

Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, research, science, work.
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1 comment so far

When reviewing papers, I’ve tried to make a point of checking to see if the authors are heavily into self-citation.  I remember realizing how bad the practice was when I was asked to review a paper with a significant number of citations and realized that 90% of them were self-referential.

Self-citing one’s work isn’t inherently a bad thing, particularly if your sub-field is extremely small and you’ve done a significant amount of work in that field.  In that situation, it’s important to point out relevant work, not so much in the sense of, “this was what I did before,” but, “this previous work is relevant to the discussion.”  However, not everyone self-cites that way.  In some cases, someone will self-cite as much of their previous work as possible to get their h-index up.  It may not make sense to do that in certain field, but in some sub-fields of engineering, as well as some other fields, it really can make a huge difference for an early-career professor…particularly if the practice of publishing a bunch of LPUs full of self-citations is the modus operandi.

Beyond that, the practice just really bothers me as it doesn’t make sense.  If you’re in a TT position, it seems like what you’d want to do is cite broadly.  It helps ensure that you have a strong background in the field and that you have a good sense of what other people are doing.  It helps to make comparisons about how your work is unique.  Most importantly, though, it helps other authors realize you exist and will hopefully make them curious about your work.

Finally, someone may be flattered that you cited their work.  I recently had someone comment to me that they were glad someone read their paper other than the editors…and lead author.

Grammar gripes April 11, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in older son, writing.
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I really try not to hound people for their grammar or spelling.  It’s obvious, if you’ve spent any time reading this blog, that I’m prone to making errors, even when I do proofread an entry before posting.  Commas will show up for no good reason, I’ll swap your and you’re, and sometimes words will just plain go missing.  (Number of errors and misspellings is usually proportional to sleep deprivation.)

Every once in a while, however, one little thing will get under my skin.  This happened recently when I was talking with my kids and asked, “Does either of you need to get some food?”  The older boy responded not by answering the question but by correcting my grammar.

“Do either of you, you mean.”

“Nope.  Does.  Either is the subject, not you.  You is describing either as it’s in a prepositional phrase.  Therefore the verb needs to agree with either, which is third person, singular.”

He still didn’t agree, so we took the argument to google…where I found a page saying that either phrasing was correct.  Grammatically, it said that the proper form is “does either,” but common usage allows for both forms of do.

I realize that language is an evolving thing, but I think it’s one thing to say that something is correct versus socially acceptable.  It is socially acceptable to say, “Do either of you need something?” even if it is like nails on a chalkboard to some of us.  However, it is not grammatically correct.

Either way, I’m left feeling like I’m shaking a cane at my kids, yelling at them to get off my sentence diagrams.

Writing about writing February 16, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, research, writing.
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I won’t apologize for not updating regularly.  I will, however, say I miss it.

I’ve been doing a lot of writing again, and I’m finding that it leaves me with very little to say.  I can’t really write about what I’m writing about in any sort of entertaining fashion.  Well, I suppose I could complain, but who wants to read that?

In the past month, I’ve had to write a short proposal and put together a presentation, significantly edit a previously written long proposal to submit someplace else, and then write a conference paper.  I’m hoping I get at least one of these so I can tell you about it, but for now, I’m still waiting.  Heck, I’m still waiting on the proposals I wrote last October.

I suppose I could write about how much I hate waiting, but it would be a very short post.  Even shorter than this one.

How blogging has helped me: writing July 31, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in meta, writing.
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Blogging has been beneficial to me in so many ways I can’t even begin to count.  At the very least, I have a place to complain about things to my heart’s content.  This has, in turn, prevented me from driving my husband nuts.  Therefore, we are still married.

Aside from that, there is the fact that I write a lot faster and more smoothly than I used to.  Sitting down to write just about anything was difficult in high school.  When in college, I spent a brief time as a journalism major, which got me used to writing.  However, sitting down and doing it was still a chore and my progress could be sporadic and sluggish.

Now, however, I do a lot of composing in my head and that makes it easier to get things down on paper…at least the electronic kind.  Admittedly, I have to go back and revise almost everything.  On the other hand, it comes out a lot better than it used to.  It also doesn’t seem like such a chore to edit.  I’m so used to deleting paragraphs of my own writing on the blog that it doesn’t phase me to do it in more professional compositions.

There are down sides to blog writing.  I have this tendency to uses ellipses unnecessarily, which I’m sure is a result of using them excessively on the blog.  I tend to write in a stream of consciousness voice…  I’m undoubtedly more conversational in some of my professional writing than necessary.  However, I think I can forgive myself since I can now at least get the words out for later editing.

What about you?  Have you found that blogging has made a big difference in your writing?

It’s amazing what I can get done when I’m not at work July 5, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in grad school, personal, research, writing, younger son.
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I never thought I’d be thankful for my child being sick.  I suppose I should as it means he’s acquiring another immunity.

I’m guessing the younger son had West Nile.  At least, the symptoms were consistent with West Nile, and it showed up a couple days after his daycare took the kids to a nearby state park to swim.  Swimming hole = mosquitoes = contagion.  The younger boy is usually pretty healthy, but it was obvious he was pretty sick this time.  He spent two days solid watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons, eating jello and yogurt, and sleeping.

I constantly had a thermometer in my hand.  The worst was reading temps of 103.5°F, because then I had to convince myself that it was really better not to give him Tylenol.  See, the kid wouldn’t sleep unless I let his fever run up, and I know from past experience that you’ve got to let them hit that spike or it just drags out for days.  It seemed to work because less than 24 hours after we initially discovered he was sick, his fever dropped down in to the below 101°F range.  Yesterday, which was 48 hours after we found out he was sick, he was going stir crazy and taking Mike and myself with him.

In the meantime, I was stuck at home, and it was the probably some of the best uninterrupted time I’ve had in months to work on my dissertation.  This resulted in a big jump forward, at least from my perspective.  In that time, I learned how to use the debugger and managed to fix a couple major issues with my code.  On top of that, I managed to finish a fictional novel I’ve been reading for the last six months.  (Yeah, I know…)  I even spent some time doing some fun writing of my own (though obviously not the blog).

I also was asked to take care of a rescue dog for a couple days.  He’s a very sweet boy, but he makes Gigadog look tiny.  (Maybe we should call him Teradog?)  I’ll probably be picking him up tomorrow, so I’ll try to get some pics up.  (Depends on how busy he keeps me.)  I think we’ve decided to call him Rainier, since he’s huge as a mountain.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he and Gigadog get along well.

Old-fashioned tech November 12, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in writing.
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Inspired by Massimo who was inspired by Cath.

Linkety Link January 3, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in links.
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Being Brilliant versus Writing Well: In the vast world of academic Computer Science publishing, I am about to tell you the greatest secret of all: You can make up for lack of genius by being a good writer.

Frautech doesn’t believe in rational consumers.

We should find aliens any day now.

iPhones in Space: after this, I want an iphone even more.

And speaking of space, don’t miss the Quadrantids. (I probably will, though, because the temps are below zero and it’s just too cold to go outside right now.)


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