I thought that this would be a great occasion to review the progress my laboratory has made on the study of the stability of large ecological systems. Even better, this article could outline a research program on this topic, listing the main challenges that we are facing.
My former student Si Tang (now pursuing a second PhD in Statistics) and I set to work with this idea in mind. You can now read this hybrid between a review and a list of “grand challenges”:
Just before the Winter break, I’ve been traveling in Sweden and the Netherlands. In Linköping, I gave a 3-hr lecture on the stability of large ecological systems for the 6th Swedish Meeting in Mathematics in Biology. It was a great experience, and it was so nice to get to see my former postdoc Anna Eklöf and spend some time with her and her family.
In the Netherlands, I was part of a workshop on Spatio-Temporal Dynamics in Ecology at the Lorentz Center in Leiden. This is a great place for workshops, and I think I will organize one in the near future!
We live in a world dominated by rankings. Besides soccer teams, movies and restaurants, rankings of Universities and researchers have become commonplace.
The Scientific Wealth of Nations has been measured in many ways, all centered on a very simple idea: if a country producing a certain proportion of papers (pp) accrues a much larger proportion of citations (pc), then the country is producing high-quality science. Conversely, countries for which pc < pp would produce lower-quality research.
This appealing simplicity, however, conceals one of the most important factors determining the influence of a scientific article, the journal where it was published. Clearly, publishing a paper in Nature would guarantee a much wider audience than that reached by The Bulletin of Koala Research — even for papers of the same quality.
We thus took 1.25M articles in eight disciplines (from 1996 to 2012), and parsed the country of affiliation of all the authors. We then measured how the country(ies) of affiliation influenced the journal placement (i.e., where was the paper published) and the citation performance (i.e., whether the article received more or fewer citations than its “peers”). Differently from other studies, we kept a tally for each possible combination of countries, such that we can see which international collaborations are more effective.
Originally, we thought of measuring the effect of the institution (rather than country) of affiliation—how much is an Oxford affiliation worth? We’re sufficiently proficient in regular expressions to distinguish India from Indiana, but affiliations like The Miami University in Oxford, Ohio made us decide to stick with countries.
In the paper, we start by talking about the 1982 study by Peters and Ceci. This is one of the most intriguing paper I’ve ever seen, and even the lengthy commentary (you can find here) is a pleasure to read.
In hindsight, we should have changed our own affiliations to the wonderful ones used by Peters & Ceci. The Northern Plain Center for Human Potential sounds just right!