Avoidable Failures of Peer Review

This piece is about a specific kind of peer review failure where a paper is rejected despite there being sufficient evidence to warrant acceptance. In other words, all the facts are available but the wrong decision gets made anyway. In my experience this is extremely common at selective computer science conferences. The idea here is […]

Perverse Incentives in Academia

A perverse incentive is one that has unintended consequences. The world is full of these and the Wikipedia article has some great examples. Academia seems particularly prone to perverse incentives. Incentive Intended Effect Actual Effect Researchers rewarded for increased number of publications. Improve research productivity. Avalanche of crappy, incremental papers. Researchers rewarded for increased number […]

Black Friday on Wednesday

Until now, my department hasn’t done any kind of formal, department-wide evaluation of our graduate students and their progress. A number of people, including me, have argued for some time that we should be doing something like CMU’s Black Friday. This semester Suresh, our current DGS, has made this happen; the meeting was today. Overall […]

Putting Oneself Through College

A lot has been written lately about the rising costs of higher education. Is it still possible to put oneself through college without working full time? It’s certainly not easy. For example, the Utah minimum wage is $7.25/hour. If a student works 20 hours per week for 50 weeks, the resulting $7,250 doesn’t even cover […]