Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Upcoming Conferences Dec-Jan 2012-13

There are couple of nice conferences coming up in next 2-3 months in India which most of the researchers working in the field of high energy physics (HEP) must be waiting for. The first one is TeV particle astrophysics (TeVPA) 2012 (https://grapes-3.tifr.res.in/indico/conferenceDisplay.py?confId=0) to he held at Tata Institute, Bombay during December 10-14, 2012. Looking at the amount of experimental as well as theoretical activities going all around the world on particle astrophysics (dark matter, in particular), this conference would be really exciting. Among other things, I would probably look forward to talks or discussions on 130 GeV gamma ray  line claimed to be present in the Fermi-LAT data ( analyzed by C. Weniger first, who is coming to this conference as a panel speaker). No matter this line is real or not, but the excitement it has created for last couple of months is truly amazing. One another conference (symposium) which almost all Indian HEP people keep looking for is the DAE-BRNS symposium on high energy physics that happens every alternate years. I was there in the last symposium of this series and the experience was amazing probably because of the time and place of the event. It was in the month of December at Jaipur two years back. This time it is being organized at Shantiniketan by Visva Bharati University. The organizers have finally come up with a website and extended the registration deadline also by around 17 days (from October 31 to November 17). The details can be found here http://www.visva-bharati.ac.in/news/DAE-2013/index.html.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Impact Factors, citations bla bla...

As the competition in academics is getting tougher and tougher due to recession, fund cuts or whatever, it seems to me that certain things like "journal impact factor", "number of citations" etc have become very very important and grabbing more attention than ever. Though I am just a beginner in this field, I feel as if I have started hearing more about these keywords nowadays than I did say, four five years back. Anyways, I guess independent of any personal experiences, it is the overall trend these days. Earlier, if someone has a paper in a journal like Physical Review D, nobody would care about the present impact factor of this prestigious journal. But, with the journal market growing bigger and bigger (and flooded with many open access journals whose sole target is just to publish articles based on the money author gives, rather than the quality of the work), the race towards high impact factor has become more and more visible. Like my PhD supervisor, I never paid much attention to these things as long as we get one or two papers per year in a reputed journal like Physical Review D. I was also unaware of the mechanism which governs the impact factor. But as expected, things like impact factor plays non-trivial role in getting you a job. And that's when I had to search for the impact factors of the journals where I got some papers published. In my job applications I had to write clearly the impact factors of all the journals. I don't know how much that did help me getting a job, but I always hope that my favorite journals like Physical Review among a few others  will maintain their quality always and people wont be caring much about their impact factors, their very names would carry their impact rather than some real numbers known as impact factor which results from some data analysis. Recently, I saw the list of journal impact factors for the year 2011. And I saw some tables showing the number of citations each journal has got in that year and depending on that, the impact factors were ordered (roughly speaking). There were couple of surprises in that table (I hope I dint look at a fake one). For example Physics Letters B impact factor has decreased substantially from around 5 to around 3.5. To a less extent Physical Review D and JHEP impact factor also decreased. Journals like IJMPA, EPJC has somewhat maintained the same impact factor as before, but MPLA impact factor seems to have decreased. Anyways, to conclude the last few lines, all the familiar journals to hep-ph community (at least) have lost their impact factors to some extent. That's heartbreaking indeed. However,  I saw one journal whose impact factor seems to have increased a lot, that's journal of physics G. It's current impact factor is around 4.something. I am sure it was lower than this earlier. Obviously, it has got enormous number of citations as well. That made me think how come a journal in which  I hardly see any paper related to hep-ph can get such a huge number of citations. I had no clue, and I dint even bother to find out. But while reordering the bibliography of a paper I am writing, suddenly I saw one paper in this journal which I am citing. And yes, as expected that's the particle data group (PDG) paper published in 2010 which has around 4000 citations now. So, that's how it works. Even if a journal does not have a significant number of articles important to myself or hep-ph in general compared to other popular journals, even a paper with such huge citations in a year or so can make a big difference. Anyways, I hope I won't get driven into such a race of impact factors and would be ignoring these issues consistently throughout my life and hope my present favorite journals will always remain favorite to me :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A few Updates!

Well, quite a few updates to be precise. That's natural when one is away from the blogosphere for a long time. Lots of things happened since my last post, not all of them worth mentioning of course. The most important of them perhaps is my new affiliation and job. Yes, as I mentioned earlier, my PhD life ended on June 30, 2012 as scheduled without taking any extensions. And thankfully, I dint have to roam around jobless for a long time. I got an offer from a central government university in Tezpur, a small town in the Indian state Assam. Though I was supposed to join HRI, Allahabad sometime in July as a postdoctoral fellow, this offer from Tezpur University came as a big surprise. Being a fresh graduate, I applied there with zero expectation but with a good reason (as the University is just 30 km away from my Home). Also, I did know that its the best University in the North Eastern region of India and the education system is not too different from the IIT's. I am not much sure how different life would have been if I had gone to HRI rather than coming to Tezpur. But one difference is for sure: in Allahabad I would been crossing the river Ganges everyday whereas here I am crossing the Brahmaputra everyday ;-)

Anyways, life is quite enjoyable here in Tezpur specially after I got a campus residence few days back. I hardly feel like being away from my alma mater IIT Bombay. But of course the difference is severe if one goes outside the Tezpur University campus and that of IIT Bombay which for me is not of any concern as I never got addicted to typical city life in Bombay or any other cities. I have been teaching Electromagnetic Theory to MSc first year and General Theory of Relativity to MSc second year. Plus I have to take BTech Physics tutorials sometimes and have to guide an MSc second year project student. Yes, its quite hectic for a beginner as it sounds! But, same load will be on a postdoctoral fellow also in any good research institute. So, I have nothing to complain either to my employer or to myself. It's true (obviously) that teaching load slows down individual research quite a lot. That's the only thing which concerns me most here. I hope I will be able to complement this by visiting some good places whenever my university allows me. Recently, I visited ICTP for the workshop on BEhind NEutrino mass and mixing (BENE) which turned out to be a really good experience with almost all the big shots in this field from all around the world delivering some enlightening talks.I listened to so many talks on discrete flavor symmetries there that I have started liking some of them now, though discrete symmetries always looked very unnatural and ugly to me while I was a PhD student. I am planning to visit Aizawl, Mizoram next month for another conference and perhaps DAE symposium also which will be in January at Shantiniketan, West Bengal.

Hope to post some more updates soon, Cheers!