Work jargon scientists should have

Fakeference invitation: an email from Nancy, Sally or June, inviting you, for the second time (“perhaps you didn’t get my first invitation, there may be something wrong with my email”) to speak at a conference. The meeting has  5-10 Nobel laureates listed as invited speakers, and covers everything in science, from quantum mechanics to fish breeding. Needless to say, there is no meeting.

Fauxpen access: when a published offers “open access” publication, but not really. The paper is not under Creative Commons, the publisher still holds the copyright. Doesn’t stop them from charging you $4,000.

Grantxiety: that time between the moment you hear that your grant has scored well, and the moment you hear that it is still too low to be funded.

LinkedWho: an invitation from someone you don’t know to join on LinkedIn.

Paper turfing: when you refuse a request to review a manuscript, because the abstract is so poorly written you don’t even want to think what it would be like to slog through the whole paper.

PCWave: (rhymes with “PCA”): someone showing a principal components analysis chart at a seminar, furiously waving their hands around the data points to convince the audience they are clustered in some meaningful way.

Spamdoc: an email beginning with “Dear esteemed professor”, continues to list a a science biography that has no relevance to the research you do, and ends with a request to join your lab.

Starer bars: uncategorized, unannotated error bars in a graph. Are these SD, SE, CI or what? I don’t know, I guess I’ll just stare.

Travel dead zone: too far to drive, too near to fly (does not apply to countries that have good trains).

Virtual absence : taking your laptop to a coffee shop, activating the away message on your email and not answering the phone because you want to get some work done.

Virtual presence: being at a remote conference but answering work emails and Skype calls any time. Including 3am.

Workminar: when you go to a seminar for politeness sake, but take your laptop and work furiously through it because the grant deadline is tomorrow.




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4 Responses to “Work jargon scientists should have”

  1. Ian Holmes says:

    Mitgefool: The higher-level brain function that allows academics to empathize with authors one day, reviewers the next, but never both on the same day

    Deadwood: a noted university in the western United States where Nobel Prize-winning Professor Brian Josephson once caused Wild Bill Hickock to shoot himself in his own temple, purely by mind control

    Egolution: the process by which an individual mind becomes one with the God-hood, through a series of increasingly self-referential papers and blogposts

  2. Leighton Pritchard says:

    Batch effect: accidentally slamming your groin into the bench, knocking over and ruining 30% of your samples for one replicate. Not typically noticed until the analysis because, you know, the agony.

    Regression: Going foetal in the corner, when you realise what the data actually tell you, which is that you just wasted three years and £750,000.

    Presearch Scientist: A “scientist” who only ever looks for confirmatory evidence.

    Lab stool: Parting gift from a disgruntled post-doc.

    Gill-son: Unusual experimental result, usually obtained by marine biologists who become unethically close to their subjects.

    NMR: Analytical technique of last resort, alternative source of lab stools.

  3. Iddo says:

    I was thinking more along the line of real-life situations that need a name. Those in the comments are pretty awesome though 🙂

  4. Leighton Pritchard says:

    Real-life, eh? In academia… 😉

    Cryptic Rainbow: the colour scheme used to annotate important sequence information in Word documents.

    Elven Safety: (1) supercilious health and safety auditors who have trekked to your lowly lab from some fantasy world where the inside of vacuum autoclaves is somehow considered a ground zero for Legionella; (2) the fantasies of Tolkeinesque proportions that they insist you must account for in your audits, such as: “What if someone steals your keys, breaks into the secure store and hides the radioactive sources in their front trouser pocket?”

    Lie Recording Sheet: Administrative tool to back-calculate and report officially the time you should have spent on each activity/project, to satisfy the accountants.