Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On Faculty of 1000 Biology

I'm surprised there are still people in my school and particularly my field of work (molecular biology) that don't know what Faculty of 1000 is. Not because I think it's a great idea (which I do), or because I think it will be a life changing experience for them to know about it (although I know they could somehow benefit from it), but because it's so widespread (if you search for papers once in a while) that it's hard to imagine that they have NEVER EVER come across with this logo before: .

Ok, maybe they have, but don't know what it is.

Anyway, (from Wikipedia):

Faculty of 1000 is a website for scientists, that provides rankings and commentary on current scientific research papers. The service is designed to act as a filter, highlighting the most significant research along with evaluations of the research written by other scientists that emphasize why a particular research paper is interesting or important.

Faculty of 1000 currently exists as two sister sites:

Faculty of 1000 Biology is an online awareness service for biologists. It is produced by a panel of over 2000 biological researchers, who regularly identify and evaluate the research articles that they have found most interesting in the recently published literature.

The other one, is Faculty of 1000 Medicine.

I usually keep an eye on Faculty of 1000 Biology which is right up my alley. It is greatly organized into areas such us Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, Biotechnology, Cancer Biology, Cardiovascular Biology, Cell Biology, Chemical Biology, Developmental Biology, etc (I just chose the first 7 of the alphabetically arranged list of areas), so you can search within your field of interest for what renowned scientists have selected as great papers.

So, how does it work? Scientists from all over the world, experts in particular areas of biology were invited to participate; to select papers they consider of interest1. In fact, "Faculty members are asked to evaluate and comment on the most interesting papers they read each month".
First, they write a short comment about it, mainly explaining why they have considered this paper and the main findings. They later rate the article (as Recommended, Must Read or Exceptional)2 and then classify it into any of seven paper types:

New finding
Technical advance
Interesting hypothesis
Important confirmation
Controversial findings
Novel Drug Target

Finally, they classify it into one of the categories, like the ones I just mentioned (Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, etc) and the article is posted at the F1000 website.

Charles F Stevens at The Salk Institute, California said:
The Faculty of 1000 Biology is the most radical publishing idea of recent times. It is much more rational to judge papers individually than to judge them by the impact factor of the journal in which they are published. ”
Ok, so this doesn't say much, anyway. Anyone who rates an article (before reading it) based on the impact factor of the journal where it is published, is downright silly (not to say anything else).

As I mentioned a few week ago [Are we training pit bulls to review our manuscripts?]:
"(...) This will also teach them (if you haven’t told your students already) two things: 1) not everything you find in CNS journals (Cell, Nature, Science and in other one-word-title journals) is true and 2) just because a journal has low impact factor it does not mean that articles published there are weak and should not be considered in your research (...)"
Anyway, the idea behind Faculty of 1000 Biology is good, and you should check it out sometime.

For me, it has become one of my go-to sites during my downtime at the lab [Are you looking for something to do during your downtime? Check Tid Bits, Downtime Edition]

1 Sort of what we do here at MolBio Research Highlights.... or maybe, (and more accurately), we sort of do what they do :-P
2 For more info on the rating system check this.

Icons are from the F1000 website.



el astudillo said...

Hi! Thanks for reading my blog!
I totally agree with what you wrote... it seems that Mendeley is getting better faster than Papers. But still Mendeley has several bugs in Mac. For Mac users, for now, Papers is still the choice. About the community-oriented scope, it is at discussion if these works are reallly working. There is a forum about this topi in Nature Networks:

See you.

rpg said...

Hi Alejandro!

I'm pleased that you like For obvious reasons: Martin Fenner interviewed me about "F1000": a couple of weeks ago (and see the friendfeed discussion at )

I'd love to hear any comments you might have, what improvements you might like to see, etc.



rpg said...

Damn, I'm so used to textism over at Nature Network, I've forgotten how to write HTML. Try F1000 interview instead...