Chris Mebane

I am a dirty-water biologist interested in pollution ecology, assessment, and development of water quality criteria. My recent interests have been focused on predicting and avoiding adverse effects of trace metals in aquatic environments from mineral development, as well as eutrophication. I’ve worked primarily in the public sector and am currently a staff scientist with a governmental science agency in the U.S.. I don’t list my professional employment here in order to maintain some separation between my official work and non-official expression of my personal comments on blogs and such. My employer has strict policies on review and prior approval of publishing or correspondence from its ‘ologists that were established decades before “blog” became a word. Further, disclaimers of the sort that are commonly seen from industry or government scientists such as “the views expressed are those of the author’s and are not necessarily those of the employer” are expressly disallowed by my employer. Unusual perhaps, but vive la différence! Not trying to be coy, just trying to keep it clear on what is avocation and what is vocation. A simple internet search or following links to a profile, Google Scholar, or Research Gate will show more information on my work.

I’m active with SETAC, the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and am an editor for their journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

There are so many good ecology blogs out there written by far better and more prodigious writers than I. While it would be nice to see one focused on more applied environmental science practitioners outside of academia, I don’t have the staying power to start one. I occasionally contribute to others’ blogs, usually on topics related to publishing practices or science communication. Some routinely excellent writers I enjoy following include Stephen Heard of Scientist Sees Squirrel fame; Terry McGlynn, Amy Parachnowitsch, and Catherine Scott at Small Pond Science; Jeremy Fox, Megan Duffy, and Brian McGill at Dynamic Ecology (who maintain a great Blogroll linking to other good reads), and the many writers at Scholarly Kitchen, who discuss the policy and business side of science publishing. And just to keep myself scared straight as an author, reviewer, and editor, I voyeuristically follow the mishaps and misdeeds over at Retraction Watch.  Some other fine ecology organizations that I support include the Society for Freshwater Science and Freshwaters Illustrated.

Some commentaries where I contributed substantive comments:

Lab, workplace, and science integrity matters:

Hazards of working with contract laboratories – be sure to slip in blind quality control samples . And this on fall out from inadequate oversight of laboratory data quality.
Creating an science workplace environment hostile to hostile behavior
Institutions may have substantial conflicts of interest when investigating their own senior researchers

Publishing, open access and peer review

The Manuscript Submission Mess: some things that could easily be improved
Inherent conflicts of peer review demands
Public access to publicly funded research
Making data free to others isn’t free to the provider

The curious issue of journal self-citation. Why did Springer’s Earth and Environmental Sciences (formerly Environmental Geology) lose its Impact Factor?

But not these 5 environmental science titles?   Journal editors behaving badly (Hey journal editors, this is brilliant. Why trudge along for years trying to up your impact factor through publishing high quality works when you can just game it? Just write year in review, topic in review, or even lists of articles handled by a specific editor. Publish those lists of self-citations as regular articles. No content required other than the list of self-citations. Voilá, your impact factor goes up a couple points. Expeditious!)

Double blind peer reviews: don’t blindly jump on this bandwagon
Don’t ask authors to revise and resubmit
Whither the Letter to the Editor? An open access ecology journal asked for the full $1500 article fee to publish a correction.

To the pirate in all of us. Avast ye vile hornswogglers!

Posting copyrighted articles on the web is stealing just as if one palmed a book from the library
Pirated journal articles – publishers, take a hint from the music industry on what worked and what failed
Not pirating: federal scientists may freely post journal articles on their own project websites that were prepared as part of their official duties

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