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October 23, 2013

BeyondRigor.org: Swimming in a Sea of Context

Did you know:

• people answer questions differently if they provide information about their race and sex before they answer
the questions;
• people give different answers if they know what you are looking for;
• observers see things differently based on what they think the sex of the people being observed is?

If you didn’t know these things or even if you did, you need to check out BeyondRigor.org (and not just because it’s from me, Tom, and Eric Jolly). The goal of the website is to improve evaluations, and research, done with diverse populations and since all populations are diverse…

It’s got great illustrations from Lee Abuabara and a bunch of easy to use tips to:

• make the data collection process more inclusive and the data collected more accurate
• make the analysis of quantitative and qualitative data more rigorous and better able to determine “what works
for whom in what context”
• make the data collected more responsive to project/program, stakeholder, and funder goals and needs
• help program officers and reviewers better critique evaluation plans and assess how well evaluations are

Not only that, you can get information to better understand the role of context and better understand how factors such as how participant gender, disability, and even military service can influence what data should be collected and how.

We hope you like it, use it and tell everyone you can think of about it.

PS It was funded by the National Science Foundation. Thanks NSF

October 13, 2013

You called her a WHAT? An Ada Lovelace Day post with a twist

As many of you know, Tuesday is Ada Lovelace Day where science bloggers are encouraged to "write a blog post about your STEM heroine". (I'll leave the rant about the use of heroine vs hero for another time). So last week I was thinking about who to write about and Danielle Lee came to mind. Danielle is awesome- she is, as she says, "A hip hop maven [who] blogs on urban ecology, evolutionary biology & diversity in the science." She is also a researcher who studies animal behavior from multiple perspectives and has made even me interested in rat behavior, which is no easy task (middle school flashback- the rat scene in Orwell's 1984 eiiiiiiiiiiiiiii).

So if she can get me interested in rat research- imagine what she is doing for kids. Or better yet find out -follow her at The Urban Scientist.

So that was supposed to be the end of my post but then Friday, Danielle did something that made me admire her even more. She was asked if she would be interested in being a guest blogger, for free, at biology-online.org. She politely refused. The response she got was "Because we don't pay for blog entries? Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?"

Yup he asked her if she was a whore. Her response, bless her. was to call him out publicly both on You Tube and in her blog which is one of the Scientific American blogs. Right there is no link there- want to know why? The editor-in-chief (first woman in Scientific American history- big big sigh) took the post down. Luckily the web has a long memory and you can read her post here.

Her story and the responses continue. You can find some interesting commentary here or here or heck just search on #StandingwithDNLee

Thank you Danielle for everything. You are my hero.