Monday, November 07, 2011

Monday Pop Quiz!

Sorry to spring this on you, but I wanted to make sure that you have all been keeping up with the material. This little quiz will help me see how you're doing, and to identify any concepts that are particularly problematic for the class, so I can be sure to focus on those in my lectures in the coming weeks.

Yes, I know this quiz is not on the syllabus. It is a so-called pop quiz. I did put on the syllabus that I would give you some of these throughout the term; I just didn't say when. That's the whole point of them. The fact that this is the first one was not intended to lull you into a false sense of comfort that there wouldn't be any, but if it had that effect, I must say I'm not too ripped up about it.

And no, I don't care if you do better on quizzes if you listen to music, you can't have your ear buds in during the quiz.

The Quiz

Let's say that you happen to read a journal article that was published > 1 year ago and you see that your own (quite old) publications are cited. But: you don't like how your published work is cited in this article -- the authors didn't mis-cite you in any egregiously wrong or unethical way, but you nevertheless don't like how they did it. For example, maybe you feel that they put too much emphasis on some things that we know now that we didn't know >20 years ago when you published your cited paper(s). Or maybe you don't like how they wrote that their results might be in conflict with some results in one part of your old work. What do you do? Do you:

(a) Make an unhappy huffing sound, shrug your shoulders, and forget about it. Maybe you will mention it to the authors if you see them at a conference, but otherwise, it's not a big deal.

(b) Write a brief but polite e-mail to the primary authors, explaining your discontent and then waiting to see how they respond.

(c) Write a formal comment and send it to the authors and ask if they'd be interested in writing a reply, perhaps for publication in the journal in question.

(d) Write a formal comment and send it to the editors of the journal and let them deal with contacting the authors to see about a possible reply, perhaps for publication in the journal in question.

(e) Fire off an angry e-mail to the editor of the journal, insulting the integrity of the editor and the journal as a whole for publishing a paper that contains this unjustified attack on you and your work. Be sure to include lots of dramatic adjectives that show -- unambiguously -- just how shocked you are that this paper was published in a journal you used to respect. 

Time's up. Put your pencils down and pass your quiz forms to front.


25 comments:

Alex said...

Professor, can we use our web browsers to consult the literature and see what sorts of replies are generally published? Is this an open-journal quiz?

Female Science Professor said...

Yes, of course, that's totally fine with me. Also feel free to look at the quizzes of the people sitting around you as well. It's important that you learn how to work with other people and get the information that you need, when you need it. I just don't want anyone listening to music, unless it's music that I happen to like.

JohnJohn said...

I'm going to go with A. This happens all the time in my field because people don't have time to sift through the deluge of junk that gets published each day in journals that have 95% acceptance rates (astronomy). Since I suspect that most people in my field don't actually read my papers beyond the abstract--if at all--I'd just be pleased to see that I was cited.

I can't help but guess that someone you know went with choice E. If so, I'm very sorry...for everyone involved.

sixsnowflakes said...

(a) & give thanks that my Hirsch index just got bumped up another point.

Klaas said...

Professor, I am dyslexic. Could I have extra time to consider answer a please?

Susan B. Anthony said...

I did (b) when this happened to me recently. My main complaint was that the citing authors misunderstood my paper, and cited it as an example of exactly the *reverse* of what it actually showed.

The authors wrote me a nice response and fixed that article before it went to press, but then in a subsequent article, they cited me again in exactly the same wrong way.

I guess I've now gone back to option (a), though I'm not happy about the situation. Of course I am grateful for the citations; I just really don't want to become associated with an oversimplified and probably erroneous conclusion. But the fact remains that I don't have time to police my citations. I guess I could cite the offending authors in *my* next paper and show how their statements are incorrect...

Can I get extra credit for guessing that the hypothetical perpetrators of (e) are 1) well established senior professors and 2) male?

mOOm said...

A - There are so many people doing this I can't chase them even if I wanted to...

EliRabett said...

So which end of (e) were you on?

Anonymous said...

I would consider anything but A to be not worth my time

makita said...

A
If they didn't mis-cite or misunderstand the paper. Otherwise B

Anonymous said...

a - it's hard for me to get more riled up than that if it isn't an egregious misuse - maybe I'm too mellow.

Anonymous said...

My response is (a). As a reviewer, I corrected some authors on a mis-cited article (that was not my own). It was a genuine misstatement and a mistake which they acknowledged and corrected. However, a repeat offense as described by Susan B. Anthony (above) is perplexing, inexplicable behavior.

Anonymous said...

I would go with (a).

Anonymous said...

Duh


(a) Make an unhappy huffing sound, shrug your shoulders, and forget about it. Maybe you will mention it to the authors if you see them at a conference, but otherwise, it's not a big deal.

Life is too short otherwise

I also almost agree that "no citation is a bad citation"

PS I am male and "young people these days" probably think I am "old"--my kids certainly think so....

Mark P

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing you were the editor! :)

Ummmm I would probably contact the authors... but only after I have tenure and my integrity one again means more to me than my citation index. :p

Anonymous said...

Man, I *wish* I had "quite old" publications. One day... Oh, right! I need to answer the question. Hmm... Agh! Time's up! Pick one, pick one! Sigh, I got a 0 on the first pop quiz...

Anonymous said...

I'll go with A. It happens all the time, and I would go nuts if I were to pursue these things any further.

aProfessor said...

(a) -- this stuff happens. Doesn't do any good to get worked up over it.

Anonymous said...

You teachers with your mundane problems, wouldn't it be nice if all students would just study and get A's on all the exams.....

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

I rarely read the papers that cite my work, so I don't have this experience much.

But the most likely answer for me was not on the multiple-choice list: I'd complain on my blog.

If FSP had picked a more egregious example (such as mis-quoting or badly distorting my work), I might go for a correction letter to the editors for publication.

Anonymous said...

I'd vote (a) but I'm wondering what happened to you!

Mimi said...

I get annoyed when my work is mis-interpreted by V Famous Prof, and then everyone else who doesn't read the original work simply repeats the error. But I'm learning to chill and forget about it (and only read full content of V Famous Prof's papers when absolutely necessary).
I find some lady Profs are particularly adept at using (E) - me a lady too.

Dr. O said...

Depends on the situation, but either A or B. If I knew the author well or collaborated closely with them, I'd probably send a friendly email (have had this happen before). Otherwise, I probably wouldn't worry about it.

Anonymous said...

a seems a bit of an overreaction

EliRabett said...

How about line in your next paper, saying that watsamacallit got is completely wrong. . .