Chemistry Blog



Sep 16

A Real Fantasy Research League?

by azmanam | Categories: fun | (21625 Views)

The cartoon I posted on Tuesday jokes about a Fantasy Research League, and ChemJobber’s link our way (thanks, btw) muses about how high Phil Baran would be drafted in such a League.

How cool would it be to actually have a Fantasy Research League?!  What would a Fantasy Research League look like?

You’d have to have a fantasy draft, of course.  In fantasy sports leagues, you have to fill a certain number of positions on the team (quaterback, wide receiver, etc., for American football; pitcher, shortstop for baseball…).  Would you fill your Fantasy Research team by discipline?  You’d have to have an organic chemist, an inorganic chemist, a biochemist?  What about cross discipline researchers?  Would that be like the wide receiver/running back/flex position in football?

How would you award points?  Sheer publication rate only?  Some multiplier based on the impact factor of the journal?  I think there should be some kind of points awarded for times cited.  That would be awesome, cuz then you wouldn’t have to only draft current chemists.  Maybe one of the positions would be ‘Legacy Chemist’ so I can draft Woodward, or H. C. Brown, or something.

How long would the ‘season’ be?  How long would each individual head-to-head match-up last?

Here’s my proposal for the Fantasy Research League!!!  I put it together in about 20 minutes, so I’m probably off on some of the league rules.  Where am I wrong?  What should be tweaked?

Fantasy Research League Rules

Would nuclear chemists be drafted into inorganic position?  I like the Institution position.  This would be like drafting a defense in football.  Draft Scripps or Berkeley or Harvard, and any paper from that institution gives you points. Note the Flex Chemist.  This is where the cross-discipline chemists live.  Any paper is an in-discipline paper and not subject to the publishing-out-of-discipline penalty.

Did I miss any obvious scoring situations?  A 2 year season is a LONG season.  Would there be a better way to structure the season given the time it takes to bring a project through to publication.  I think scores would have the potential to end up being pretty massive, if you get the right articles in the right journals with the right impact factors :)

Ok, now let’s let the speculation begin!  Who are your top draft picks at each position?  Who’s the number one overall draft pick?


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  1. Ed

    I thought exactly the same thing. A Research Fantasy League would be really cool.

    I thought a team should consist of 2 organic, 2 inorganic and 2 physical chemists + a certain number of flex position which can be everything exept the three main fields.

    Dont think you would need a bench, injuries like you see in the normal fantasy sports are unlikely and in case something happens i thing you should just be able to pick up some free agent for the next matchup

    I would have done scoring on a month to month basis, which the points just being the impact factor of the journal for every publication. So the League would take 11 Months for 10 Teams if everybody plays everybody once plus two playoff weeks.

  2. Jason

    I think some type of slugging percentage will have to be calculated. Number of papers divided by the number of full time grad students and postdocs or something similar.

  3. Chemjobber

    You gotta give points for grant funded/grant renewal. Tough-ish to track, but it can be done…

  4. azmanam

    I think month-to-month scoring would be too short of a match-up. I’d fear many chemists would mark a zero score if it were just 30 days long. Maybe I underestimate the output of a good starting Fantasy Research Team, though :)

    True, injuries would be uncommon. Maybe a 6 chemist bench is too deep.

    I like the idea of a slugging percentage. That’d be fun to calculate and post as a statistic anyway.

    Ooh, grant funding/renewal would be a fun variable. We’d have to have someone from the NSF in the league who can give us the data without us tracking it down every month :)

  5. azmanam

    Here’s the next question: would you draft your grad school PI out of loyalty/insider information?

  6. Adi

    If you were to “value” each chemist (h-index springs to mind, but there may be a better system) then you could set a spending limit on the team. That would make you have to seriously consider your researcher choice, as you couldn’t just fill your team with chemistry all-stars!

  7. See Arr Oh

    First, how punny: You have spots for “bench chemists” (yuk, yuk)

    Second: Are publications and patents (and grants, thanks, CJ) the only measures of worth for Fantasy Chemists? How about winning awards, or a big prize like the Wolf, Lasker, Nobel, Kavli (those have to out-shout a big paper, right?)

    Part of the trouble with tracking accomplishments of typical academics is the breadth of the job description: they just have their hands in too many pursuits!

  8. Dangerous Bill

    These days, you need a click chemist and a green chemist, too.

  9. azmanam

    Ooh, an h-index value system to impose a salary cap on the draft! I love it.

    Yes, I also noted the ‘Bench Chemists’ position. :)

    We could subdivide all sorts of ways for points here, just like in real fantasy sports (enter oxymoron joke about ‘real’ fantasy sports here). For fantasy football, you can give wide receivers points for just yards/TDs, or for number of receptions, or award a bonus for going over 100 yards, or for yards if they also return kicks, etc… Your question is correct – what are the best measures of worth for chemists?

    Not that the numbers are made public, but teaching evaluation average would be nice to know, too.

  10. John

    Bibleometrics gone mad. As scientists we should be pushing back against attempts to rate research, and pick winners, we shouldn’t be celebrating it.

  11. Rick Fletcher @TRFletcher

    Good idea. Two things already mentioned that you really must include: a major award has to be worth more than a patent. Really, patents only cost money. And the slugging percentage idea has to be there too – you need to have a way to include the little guys and gals that are producing above average – it’s not enough to divide by the number in a group, I think, but someone smart can develop a way to recognize talent at smaller institutions.

  12. Bryan Sanctuary

    I think you need to get together with Sheldon from Big Bang Theory. He could help clean up the rules!!!

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