How to Cite Yourself

In my last post, I offered some guidelines on choosing citations. The very first guideline was to avoid conflicts of interest, which generally refers to citing yourself (but also applies to your close collaborators). Now, I’m going to describe how to cite yourself. I’m not changing my mind on this topic, but I believe that there are scenarios when self-citations are justified. Here, I’m going to list when it’s ok to cite yourself and how you should do it. Read more

How to Choose Citations

Choosing papers to cite is a key step in preparing a manuscript, but you shouldn’t take it lightly. Consider that a highly cited paper is often assumed to be a great paper. I don’t believe that this should be automatic, but I recognize the value of this (relatively) objective metric for judging someone’s work. With this in mind, this post offers some general tips on how to choose citations.

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arXiv “on hold”: Beware Delays in arXiv Posts

In an earlier post I described my reasons for posting on arXiv, including some consequences to watch out for. I did, however, leave out an important potential problem, especially if you are depending on a permanent link. If you are not careful, there can be a long delay in your manuscript being posted. In one case my wait was over 2 months. In the end, it was (probably) my own fault, but I wanted to share the details here so that it might help someone from making the same mistake. My warning is to be careful with subject classification. Read more

My Journey to Dropbox for Backups

This week a friend was describing what is probably one of the worst nightmares of research. They lost all of their code. ALL of it, along with everything else on their (presumably stolen) laptop. What made it even worse is that they’re literally one signature away from defending their thesis. The real irony in this story is they had just transferred their work files over from a student lab PC that got a new image, and extra copies made on two separate flash drives were in the same bag as the laptop. I believe that my friend will still be able to graduate, but this is probably one of the harsher lessons for not following the complete backup rule of three. Read more

3 Reasons to Post on arXiv

Publishing in academia can be a scramble. If you’re working on a “hot” topic, then there’s a demand to get your results out before someone else does it first. That’s not a good reason to rush a manuscript, or to submit an article to a publication just because it has a faster turnaround time, but it does add a sense of urgency (and sometimes that’s a good thing). This is publish or perish in action. Read more

Did You Know that MATLAB has a Variables Window?

Did you know that MATLAB has a Variables Window? It does, though the documentation does an excellent job of not saying much about it (searching within the documentation got me nothing but a search engine got me to this helpful page). I’m guilty of giving introductory workshops without mentioning the Variables Window. I never would have talked about it until after one workshop there was a student asking a question and I opened the Variables window to help. The student thought it was very useful but they were surprised because they had never seen the window before. I assumed that this was because they were new to MATLAB. Read more

How to Quickly Change Beamer Colors

Have you ever been to Frankfurt? I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Frankfurt a few times, albeit usually just through the airport. It’s the first city where I stayed in a Doppelzimmer mit Frühstück (double room with breakfast). Frankfurt is also the name of a popular theme in the LaTeX document class Beamer, which is used for making presentations (not coincidentally, Beamer is the German word for projector).
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Opening Act of Rambling Academic

Welcome to the first post on Rambling Academic. As a warning, this blog won’t be very academic (but it will be about academic things!).  I also might not ramble very much. So, what’s in it for you, dear reader? If you engage in research in any way, then you should find something useful here. If you’re interested in reading about the nuts and bolts of research, then I’m talking (and listening) to you. Read more