From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

March 2016
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Watch-Outs. 95. Meso-facts, Scientific results, Changing criteria for evaluation, Belief in Scientific Literature
Filed under: Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 1:33 pm

When Samuel Arbesman came out with his book The Half-Life of Facts
this blog noted its relevance in several entries.

There is an element of truth and much controversy that results
from scientific literature, especially when it presumes
hard facts.  It is especially true when we conceive of
a very complex world where small differences and
shifting criteria and lead to different conclusions and

Recently Jeffrey Flier tried to simplify the complex
world of scientific literature in a WSJ piece
saying that there are costs that need to be met to reproduce
all the experiments leading to scientific reduction of
hypotheses to test.  This was met, in comments to the article
by disdain, as it does seem to oversimplify the causes as
due to (1) design and statistical analysis, (2) publish to
achieve personal objectives, misplace motivation, (3)
review and acceptance criteria for publication.
[All of these have merit.  But do they cover all the
test, sample, experiment, analysis, interpretation space?]

He focuses a remedy more on the third root cause.

The Economist reported the evolution of scientific
study in the use of COMPare to examine the problem
from a slightly different perspective (which they
referred to as outcome switching).

There also is the prevalence of the impact of scientific
“stars” on allowing new interpretations from
entering fields.  In the same issue of Economist
a short piece points out how there are similar
impacts in several fields.  Related to this is a quaint
story of perseverance to publish overcoming rejection
to hold out for one’s findings.

This post offers no solutions to the complex problem
where details matter and being able to reproduce
results allows theories to stand the test of time.  But
what results in one lab’s hands may be different from
another and from what happens in the murky real
world, where there are many things potentially
different from a laboratory setting.

1 comment
Interview Questions. What do you want to do next and What motivates you
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, First Year on Job
Posted by: site admin @ 1:22 pm

A couple of interesting conversations spur this entry.  One colleague
asked for help in developing a response to the question:  What does she
wish to do next after achieving her PhD?
  [So as the advice goes:  the
solution of many problems is in the framing of the question, its boundary
conditions and assumptions.]

She has a long term goal of reuniting with her family.  This can be
achieved in several ways, in terms of relocating.  Yet, she only viewed
it by one path of her returning to live at home [boundary condition].  So,
my response was philosophical that many  more unintentional factors go
into our career choice, other than an initial goal.   I offered salient
features of a self-assessment (values and interests) as one factor
and opportunities that open up to us…more practical 

Then added ‘Fulfillment in your career often does not result from the
work itself, but in the quality and care you bring to your efforts.
Few of us find their career through logic.  Many find their career
through connections and sometimes through coincidence.

We cannot really predict where we end up in our career.  We may set
goals.  They may not be realistic or realizable.’

A second conversation brought the question:  How do I respond to
the question:
What motivates me?  To that I responded, pick two from the
following six:

  1. career progression through the ranks and opportunities
    for promotion and advancement
  2. lateral moves with increasing job responsibility and skill
    building (like, rotational assignments in other areas, joint
    ventures, and others)
  3. Acquiring new technical skills (outside training, certification)
  4. Developing leadership intuition or managerial and administrative
  5. Balance in family life and work life
  6. increased compensation and other forms of compensation

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Trends in Technical Careers. Tips for Telecommunication, Hacking of Scientific journals, Interviewing Strategies
Filed under: Interviewing, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 2:57 pm

Since Julian Assange opened access to critical files and
espionage, it was only a matter of time when we would
see wide spread hacking of scientific literature.  While we
do not and are not condoning hacking a recent report tells of
amazing hacking of scientific journals.

We share an article which talks about tips for professional
telecommuting and virtual meeting/interviewing.  While we
have entered previously on this topic, a couple of elements
are true and new. 

Then, I looked at a nice “Acing the interview” presentation.
The speaker gave some insight that I share as preparation
for taking interviews.

SOURCE:  A. Staller, Open Access vs. illegal Access ECS

A grad student in Kazakhstan presumably released hundreds
of scientific journal articles.  While many have come out
arguing that the current model limits scientific progress in
the Internet age, this could accelerate the process of open
Yet, it remains to be seen how a justifiable income stream
can come from open access models.  Perhaps the music
model on the internet may find its way into scientific
literature for the masses.

SOURCE:  WSJ  3-18-16 “Rules of etiquette for virtual

While it is a common trick for interviews, this article points out
it is improper etiquette to not know all the attendees/observers
in a virtual meeting.  The “who just joined beeps” are unwanted
distractions and finding a way to say you are leaving a meeting,
via announcement or texting to or having another cover announce
your imminent return. 

SOURCE:  I. Bloch, Ace the Interview, Strategies

She does cover the usual story telling strategies, STAR, and
background research (salaries, glassdoor, connections,
grooming, good questions, and more), what comes out of
this webinar is 
(1) in US you have to promote yourself,
(2) identify what separates yourself from other applicants,
(3) come up with three 3 strengths  and be able to insert
them at appropriate points
(4) on weaknesses, avoid identifying a core competency issue
for the positions

1 comment
Professional Behavior. Digital Breadcrumbs, Candor and Linkedin Profiles
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs, Mentoring, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 7:41 am

Calvin Pappas wrote about things to improve your Linkedin profiles
recently.  I found it interesting in that it separates Linkedin from
the majority of profile settings by managing and controlling access
and viewership.  This allows, in other words, you to manage your
profile’s “digital breadcrumbs.

This connects us to Elizabeth Charnocks book– “E-Habits” which
attracted my attention recently.  The Toronto Star offered an interesting
article describing her company, Cataphora, which creates mathematical
models of our digital presence
to assess witnesses for prosecuting
attorneys, ‘bad apple’ analyses of employees [’banana peel throwers’],
future employees or whistle-blowers [Dorian Grey effect– fake
images of themselves]  and other common sense images of people’s
habits that may reflect character traits.

One area of relevance to professional behaviors is the consistency
of your resume to other digital images and reflections of you on the
.  Their software models whether there are (intentional or
unintentional) discrepancies in your public relations documents with
the “digital YOU.”

She offers the idea of a website that creates one version of your

This leads us to receiving feedback from mentors to providing feedback
and upgrading our habits to be more in sync with our true goals.  Ed
Catamull’s Creativity Inc
talks at length about how speaking with candor
in a  trusting and digestable manner makes us better and our efforts more
productive.  He writes about the formation and development of Pixar and
generalizes on the trial and error processes they evolved in digitizing
creative efforts.

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Legal, Security and Insurance Matters.
Filed under: Job Offer (Situations), Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 9:21 am

The title is written to get wider attention.  Legal is the lead word,
but I will start with insurance.

I noticed a “rider” on our homeowners insurance policy.  It is
an extra “technical support program” service they provide.  I called
the number and learned that they will offer remote phone and
remote access of your devices to solve technical problems.
When you buy a new computer, this service costs $150 and up
yearly.  Worth your while asking for and using this free of charge service. 
[devices:  computers, smartphones, iPads, tablets, Office
applications, Printers, scanners and network connectivity;
Firm:  Commerce]

A helpful guide on trusts and wills was sent out by our estate
planning attorney firm about the terms wills and trusts.
A will is a “death document,” as it only goes into effect when
you die.  There are six provisions:  distribution of assets by name
and through court probate process, guardians, executors.  It is
usually shorter (cheaper) and does not allow for tax complications.

A trust is a living document that evolves by your direction through
your life.  It is enacted in cases of disability, covers all aspects of
wills and can avoid probate to settle after death.  It can manage
all succeeding affairs regarding your estate and beneficiaries.

These documents are important as our estates exceed our
debts.   SOURCE: Cody, Cody McCarthy: Estate Law)

Al Sklover provides definitions, examples and exclusions
of confidentiality and non-disclosure
that help us understand
what confidential information is, the four exceptions and how
to protect yourself.
His four exceptions are truly noteworthy– sharing to perform
specific duties, when the information is already in the public
domain, to comply with the law, and with the consent and
direction of management.


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Visa Dilemmas. Inc Tips that may help
Filed under: Interviewing, First Year on Job, Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 8:53 am

It is imperative that this blog uncovers and shares pertinent information
on Visas for international scientists and engineers.  It is so often
presumed that universities and companies will provide this resource.

Is it the best and most up to date information?

This blog has commented on H-1Bs in the past and there are Department
of Labor resources
to refer.
Inc. provides a nice tip sheet offering
  required documents
  typical costs, including premium processing to the front of the line
  making your case– advanced degrees in technical fields
  get a qualified outside lawyer to review your application

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