Monday, October 5, 2020

Student paper accepted!

The paper by my undergraduate Shawn Knabel was accepted. I tweet stormed about it. I have certainly helped large swaths of it but I can say with absolute certainty it’s his paper. He responded to the referee entirely on his own. 

It’s an amazing achievement. It’s a very solid paper that looked at the aspects on how one identifies strong gravitational lenses in surveys using spectroscopy, citizen science or machine learning. And how little these three techniques agree. 

This brings me to the other pet of the process: how much of the struggle to get this thing out had nothing to do with the science. The grant that was supposed to pay for it ran out and could not allow for extensions, the referee kept finding new fault where there was none (the main result of the paper didn’t change over 6 referee reports. At some point it felt like hazing. If you were the referee and read this: I hold you in low professional esteem. 

And that brings me to the issue in the astronomy community: why is this considered ok behavior? The “I had to endure this as a grad student so...” attitude. The thinly veiled disdain for science done at state schools or undergraduates. Or horror of horrors both. 

But this success means I should keep pushing. A paper is an excellent equalizer for my undergrads that want to go graduate schools. I disagree that US graduate schools now effectively expect this but it offers a clear avenue for how to get my students into them. 

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