I'm so cynical

Sep 09 2016 Published by under Uncategorized

Somebody I haven't heard from in yonks and yonks just endorsed me on LinkedIn. I don't really care about this (advantage: bluehair). But then I remembered that I saw that her name recently. And then I remembered where: as a PI on a proposal going to a study section on which I am an ad hoc reviewer. Its the first time in a couple of years I've done this particular SS. And, they just released the roster.

I'm glad I'm not one of the reviewers for this proposal.

25 responses so far

  • drugmonkey says:

    That is a new one! Hahah! LinkedIn endorsement to butter you up. HAHAHAHAAHAHAAH!!!

  • Luminiferous Aether says:

    Did she endorse you for "grant review"?

    :^D

    ...we really need emojis on scientopia. The one with tears-in-eyes-from-laughter would be apt here.

  • Ola says:

    I just don't "get" LinkedIn. I guess not having to search for a job since the early '00s probably has something to do with it. Blessed in that regard. But even so, in academia is a LI account really more important than, say, getting out and shaking hands at a conference poster session?

    Same goes for Facebook, Instagram and all that crap. The shits I give about about what my kids' classmates' parents had for lunch at a fancy restaurant, are less than zero. The inanity that must be waded through to glean a single iota of useful information, is infuriating in the extreme.

    The worst example of this I heard about recently was students asking a professor to text with information about a class because they don't read email very often. Last time I looked, preferred method of communication was not a divine right (call the ACLU, they'll explain).

    If this Linked-In/grant-review shittio happened to me, I would not hesitate to contact the SRO and have it recorded as a bona fide attempt to contact someone on study section, which as we all know is not allowed. This is no less egregious than emailing a SS member.

    • potnia theron says:

      Oh, Ola, you are showing your age by not getting social media.

      I don't think that this is explicitly stepping over a line. I might not have even noticed but that LI sent me something.

      As for the importance of LI, I think it negligible, even when I was looking for a job a couple of years ago.

      When I've been on search committees, it hasn't even occurred to me to look at LI for candidates. But, that may not be true for younger faculty.

      Certainly, I know that others have checked social media (twitter, facebook, etc) for candidates and that sometimes such checks are not A Good Thing for young people.

    • Luminiferous Aether says:

      "If this Linked-In/grant-review shittio happened to me, I would not hesitate to contact the SRO and have it recorded as a bona fide attempt to contact someone on study section, which as we all know is not allowed."

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but as I understand it, you are not allowed to contact anyone on SS *regarding your grant application under review*. This LI endorsement is far from that.

  • becca says:

    Like all social media, there's a lot of LinkedIn algorithms happening in the background. She could easily have been checking profiles of people on the roster and that alone could have triggered your name coming up as a suggestion for an endorsement. It'd be one thing if she wrote a superlative recommendation for you, but I wouldn't attribute any conscious intent to an "endorsement".
    Also, you can be notified from LinkedIn simply when someone *views* your profile. That's definitely *not* "contacting a SS member", and I'm pretty sure if you whinged to your SRO about it you'd be seen as a a paranoid egomaniac, or simply a dinosaur who can't be trusted to use the internets to fill out a grant review.

  • David says:

    Similar thing happened to me, but I was reviewing a paper (for a journal where authors can suggest reviewers). I check LI infrequently enough that I saw the endorsement well after I submitted my review.

    Ola, I am by no means a convert to the social media platforms, but my guess is that LI would be good as a connector. If you are interested in a company (or they are interviewing you) and there is a common link, it could lead to a better reference. The whole its a small world thing. I am constantly amazed at how two acquaintances of mine can know each other and I had no idea they ever met.

  • BProf says:

    Should all contact with study section members cease once the roster comes out? I have on more than one occasion received an email a week before study section from a colleague whose grant I'm reviewing letting me know that they have just published a new paper in my field that I might find interesting. These are very transparent attempts at influencing my grant review, but not so blatant as to make me report them.

    • drugmonkey says:

      I have on more than one occasion received an email a week before study section from a colleague whose grant I'm reviewing letting me know that they have just published a new paper in my field that I might find interesting. These are very transparent attempts at influencing my grant review, but not so blatant as to make me report them.

      That sounds like a reportable offense to me. But... how common is this for you? Do you get these notes from people in your field often? I don't so it would stick out. Do you get this from this particular PI all the time, regardless of whether you are reviewing a grant for them?

      • BProf says:

        I do get this kind of email occasionally, but certainly not often. The reason it doesn't seem like a reportable offense to me is that 1) it really could have nothing to do with influencing me, i.e., they sent this kind of email to many of their colleagues and I just happened to be one, and 2) the email says nothing directly about the grant. I guess if there's even a slight possibility that the email wasn't sent as a means to influence the grant review, then I wouldn't feel right about reporting it. The other thing is, if word got back to that person that you reported them, then you've just made an enemy for life.

        • potnia theron says:

          I think this is more along the lines of the game isn't worth the candle, that is, this isn't worth doing anything about, let alone spending time thinking about whether it is worth doing anything about.

  • DJMH says:

    I'm genuinely curious what SROs and standing study section members view as problematic in terms of contact. Personally I think sending a linked-in rec is pretty egregiously obvious, given the timing, but I guess it's not obviously bad to the person who sent it...

    • drugmonkey says:

      I think the rules are per the above comment. No direct contact about the grant in question.

      • Ola says:

        I think it's better to err on the side of caution. No contact of any kind (unless unavoidable - running into someone at a conference). Is a LinkedIn request avoidable? Absolutely.
        Have to say, I was unaware of the issue becca raised re: algorithm driven contact beyond control of the LinkedIn user. Thanks! You just gave me another reason to avoid LinkedIn!

      • DJMH says:

        But you just wrote that the scientist sending a "hey you might be interested to know about my new paper" email should be reported, and that's not "about the grant in question".

        • potnia theron says:

          It's grey (or bluish-yellow). I just wouldn't do it. Good reviewers are on top of PubMed biographies. (one more reason to keep them up to date). Be above suspicion.

        • drugmonkey says:

          What the technical rules are and what I find to be questionable may not be the same thing. When in doubt, tell the SRO so that it is no longer your personal decision-making. This is their job, not yours.

  • Arlenna says:

    I quit LinkedIn because of its creepy algorithms and lack of disclosure about what they are harvesting. I have several email accounts--work, various personal accounts, and then my blog pseudonym gmail account for chemicalbilology. LinkedIn was ONLY connected to my work email, none of my personal ones or the pseud one. I NEVER gave it permission to use my contacts, even the ones from the actual account that was connected to it--I deliberately said "no" to that question, both when I signed up and when I installed the app on my phone. I occasionally got suggested connections for people who weren't directly work contacts, but that seemed feasible that my places of residence/school history/topic interests/etc. might have made LinkedIn think I might know them.

    But one day, I started noticing "People you may know" suggestions that were people who had only ever contacted me on my pseud email, and who I otherwise would not have any personal or professional connections with (i.e. there is no way it got them from my work identity somehow). I did some googling and found discussions about LinkedIn harvesting information from browser pages opened in browsers in which it had been opened, and/or phone email back-end handling, via some kind of cookie/app code. So apparently, my understanding is that LinkedIn was reading my emails from the browser or email app Gmail I opened to check my pseud gmail.

    That creeped me out and pissed me off so much that I quit LinkedIn, deleted all traces of it that I could find anywhere on my computer and phone, and have not and will never rejoin.

    • potnia theron says:

      yuppers. I am told, repeatedly, that the "next generation" doesn't care about this kind of behavior (from LI) and that it welcomes it. One more attitude to remind me of my age.

  • EPJ says:

    I wonder why social media is being used to get a better profile of people and science workforce? any idea? and, is it helping at all to either employers and putative employees?

    Potnia, DM, Ola, others?

    • potnia theron says:

      to make money?

    • Luminiferous Aether says:

      I know a few friends in STEM and other fields (none in academia though) who have got jobs via LI, either by being proactive in contacting recruiters or by being targeted by recruiters based on their profiles. So yes, to several of us "next generation" folks it is an important tool, which might be why many choose to ignore LI's shenanigans for as long as it holds tangible value to them.

  • EPJ says:

    either... or..?

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