Monday, January 31, 2011

The Grad Student Rap

".... my new results, to be unveiled, are experiments to show why my experiments failed..."

(H/T: @apfejes)

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Follow me on Twitter: I tweet a lot more than I blog

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My blogging frequency is less than ideal, but that doesn't mean I've stop highlighting fascinating articles in molecular and cell biology or linking to interesting things on the web. For me, Twitter is a better tool for when you just want to direct people's attention to things on the web than a blog, basically, because when I mention something on my blog I like to take the time to give a little background on the item I'm highlighting. Lately time has been scarce, hence the low blogging frequency, but if you follow me on Twitter, you'll notice that I'm continuously linking to interesting things on the field, including research articles, videos, blog posts, magazine articles, etc.

The main point of this blog post is then the following: Follow me on Twitter!



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Monday, January 17, 2011

Poll at Science and a quote

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A recent poll at Science wanted to evaluate whether people would be willing to reduce their frequent travelling to meetings in favor of the environment. This poll was generated as a consequence of a letter by I. C. Burke urging scientists to examine the environmental consequences of their own frequent travel.

This was that poll:

On 10 December 2010, we asked you to consider the environmental benefits of reduced travel and then choose the option that best reflects your answer to this question: Would you participate in an annual meeting remotely (via video teleconferencing or other technology)?

Yes: Participating remotely would be about as valuable as attending in person.
Yes: It would lose some value, but the trade-off would be acceptable given the environmental benefits.
No: It would lose some value, and the trade-off would be unacceptable despite the environmental benefits.
No: Participating remotely would be about as valuable as not attending at all.

You can access the poll results here.

I considered one of the reactions to this poll interesting.

“Until we come up with holographic teleconferencing with the ability to eat virtual lunch together in smaller groups, there will always be a need for large gatherings from time to time.”

—John Burke Burnett


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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Great books for the summer!

I'm super excited as my sisters just gave me this fabulous book:

Phage and the Origins of Molecular Biology, The Centennial Edition

Here's its description:

This hugely influential book, published in 1966 as a 60th birthday tribute to Max Delbrück, is now republished as The Centennial Edition. On first publication, the book was hailed as “[introducing] into the literature of science, for the first time, a self–conscious historical element in which the participants in scientific discovery engage in writing their own chronicle. As such, it is an important document in the history of biology...” (Journal of History of Biology). And in another review it was described as “required reading for every student of experimental biology...[who] will sense the smell and rattle of the laboratory” (Bioscience). The book was a formative influence on many of today’s leading scientists.

I'm currently finishing Watson's Double Helix for the 2nd time (a great edition I picked up in the States a few years ago), so this will be a great read after that. Also in my reading queue:

which is sitting in my desk asking me when I will pick it up.


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Sunday, January 9, 2011

What is a "least publishable unit"?

I've recently linked to a Letter in Science arguing that there's nothing wrong with the publication of “least publishable units” (LPUs) and that we needn't worry about a hypothetical paper glut and it's alleged effects on paper quality, provided a rigurous peer review system exists (See Quotes from the science world). This was published as a response to this letter

Dave Bridges posted the following comment on my entry:

(...)to me the question boils down to what the least publishable unit is. Can you publish a single well controlled experiment. Or does it have to be in the context of a story?

So, I wanted to get your impressions on this matter. What do you think constitutes a LPU? How do you feel about these sort of articles, particularly in the context of the advancement of science?

Be sure to check the comments on my last post  and the two related Letters in Science (see here and here).There are pros and cons, obviously, so I wanted to know what fellow scientists think about this interesting subject, which has been discussed at length before, but for which new readers can have interesting insights.

Comment away! Also, follow me on Twitter, as fantastic discussions usually take place through it. 


UPDATE: There are some comments over at Friendfeed.


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Quotes from the science world

(...) Most of us who are actively involved in science today do not worry about a hypothetical paper glut, for the simple reason that we store scientific documents electronically, not on paper. In the electronic age, the claim can be made that a manuscript is suitable for publication if it is technically sound and that the importance of any particular article should be determined after publication by the readership. This is the claim made by PLoS ONE, whose explosive success in scientific publishing is an indication that the contemporary scientific community endorses the claim.With a rigorous peer-review system, competent scientists can publish and will flourish; incompetent scientists cannot publish and will perish. In the end, science wins.

(my emphasis)

-Roberto Refinetti, on a recent letter to Science, entitled "Publish and Flourish".

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Santiago is the place to be in 2011

We may not have the money or technology available in other research centers, but we have a kick-ass city!

Part of the new Gabriela Mistral Center, right next to my University, is to the right. The Lastarria neighborhood, filled with restaurants and bars is at the back (Image credit)

When science resources are scarce, you can always travel abroad as part of collaborations and do the experiments you can't do in your University. What you really wouldn't be able to get around of, is living in a boring city with nothing to do. Luckily, this is not our case.

Santiago, Chile, has been picked at the #1 place to visit in 2011 by the New York Times. Many things will go down here throughout the year, so if you have the opportunity to visit us, take it!


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