Monthly Archives: March 2007


I always thought that it was a bad idea to admit students with differing levels of support, at least up-front. Here is a nice write-up as to why I think so:

Lesboprof: Privilege You Can Feel, Even If You Can’t Always Name It.

But then, I remember that I was a low quality candidate at the Master’s program I went to, and so had the worst funding of all, and needed to take ‘make-up’ course work at the start. If that school had a ‘everyone equal policy’ I would not have been admitted, since I looked so bad on paper. Even though I just needed the chance to be admitted, because I was the top student after the first semester, and surprised everyone (including me).

So it does not seem so clear to me after all. If I was a data=anecdote type, I would say that you should re-evaluate after one semester. But that is wrong-sometimes graduate students students surprise you—they do well at coursework and terrible at research, or more happily, bad at coursework but great at research.

Where I work, you can tell after about a year and a half if a student is going to be good. It is not 100% though. The winning strategy is to treat them all well. But we are small, and I am sure we miss lots of potential greatness because we don’t let people in who are slightly worse ex-ante because we keep everyone’s funding at the same level—and so are budget (and faculty time) constrained.

No surprise, there is a trade-off here.

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All possible referee reports

are found here:
Seth’s Blog: The two reasons people say no to your idea

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Cliche finder

Cliche Finder seems like a valuable resource.

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Why is it so difficult to pick simple notation? You don’t need that many subscripts or superscripts. And if you think you do, you still have work to do.


Blind refereeing

would be much easier if the authors did not put their email address in a footnote. Although in the age of google, it all seems a bit moot anyway ( I do not google the manuscript). But still.

An intriguing idea

Publish the referee reports along with the article, with the referees’ name.


Is terseness good?

There’s a useful analogy to notation choices in technical papers in the linked article:

Rogue Amoeba – Under The Microscope

I have refereed and reject manuscripts written like that first example program. Badly done ones are often written by first year graduate students, who assume way too much knowledge on the part of the reader. Such students often like making up elaborate notation, too.

You need to be a real big shot, or have really important technical results to get away with this kind of writing.

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