MsPhD has some interesting responses in the comments to my post from a few days ago addressing the issue of strategic planning of an experimental research program. Here are a few particular excerpts that I will address below the fold:

Our mentors, beg to inform you, have ZERO novel ideas of their own.

I have NEVER met or heard of a ‘mentor’ who knows the ins and outs of technical things as well as the lab members do.
In this day and age, there are no PIs who can keep up.

[I]t belies the Apprenticeship part of the system. To get new things to work at the bench, you have to be willing to work at it. Yourself. Your mentor will not help you.

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Today’s offering for the Reader interested in drug abuse issues is the Psychedelic Research blog. This appears to be a brand-spanking new effort with the first introductory post on May 27 which indicates:

This is a blog to track research and events relating to the scientific study of hallucinogens and consciousness. I hope that documenting my readings here will be interesting or even helpful to others. My writing goals with this blog are relatively modest: I primarily aim to provide abstracts from papers, linking to them whenever possible, with occasional brief comments about what interests me.

So without much track record or content yet, what drew my eye?

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An editorial in Nature Neuroscience [h/t: writedit] describes an in-house study they undertook to compare

citations to individual articles and reviews in Nature Neuroscience (February-December, 2005) with download statistics from our website. Downloads represented the total PDF page views for any particular manuscript within the first 90 days of being posted online (including Advanced Online Publication (AOP) time).

Interesting. I’ve been pondering the potential value of article download stats for some time now so I’m intrigued by any investigation into such metrics. Perhaps this will be the start of a trend. (I will warn you in advance, however, not to expect an actual study as such out of this narrowly constrained slice of data.)

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An editorial in Nature Neuroscience [h/t: writedit] describes an in-house study they undertook to compare

citations to individual articles and reviews in Nature Neuroscience (February-December, 2005) with download statistics from our website. Downloads represented the total PDF page views for any particular manuscript within the first 90 days of being posted online (including Advanced Online Publication (AOP) time).

Interesting. I’ve been pondering the potential value of article download stats for some time now so I’m intrigued by any investigation into such metrics. Perhaps this will be the start of a trend. (I will warn you in advance, however, not to expect an actual study as such out of this narrowly constrained slice of data.)

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PhysioProf’s recent post on how to ensure a publication in a top ranked journal such as Cell, Nature or Science contained a couple of snobby, insulting comments that makes the steam come out of my ears. This comment for example

This is what is meant by “scientific taste”, and without it, it will be difficult to publish in good journals, secure independent PI positions, and obtain grant support.

came pretty near to launching a frenzy of maddened SIWOTI typing. “Scientific taste”? Scientific TASTE? Are you on crack?

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I have recently noticed some fatalism among some of our junior colleagues–post-docs and recently independent PIs–concerning their prospects of completing “interesting” projects and getting them published in top journals, either field-specific or C/N/S-level. For example, Sciencewoman recently posted about her feelings of inadequacy triggered by a more junior colleagues recent publication in a C/N/S-level journal:

Why is it that the other guy is getting a very high profile paper and I’m struggling to get results that will merit publication at all?

And her first answer (among others) was as follows:

He’s luckier than me. He got a project that worked.

The take home message of this DrugMonkey post is that “luck”–whatever the fuck that word even means–is only one factor among many. And the other factors are much more within the control of the scientist. To see what these factors are, and how to take control of them, jump below the fold. (Also below the fold is an update that addresses management of multiple projects to diversify risk/reward.)

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Perusing the list of NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices for this week I find two notices of great interest.
PureEdge and CCR registration are dead!

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