TshirtBack1.jpgSince joining Scienceblogs about 8 months ago, I have been amazed and gratified by the readership, and particularly the commentariat. Although the opportunity to reach a larger audience was the major driver in taking this step, I have been finding that you all are even more vigorous discussants than I would have expected. Discussants with a diversity of excellent and informed viewpoints which I find provide me with much interesting information and valuable insight.
For that I thank you.

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ScienceBlogs has created a special blog focused on the US elections this fall. A Vote for Science

is a group blog that will focus on the candidates’ science policies. It is managed by many interested ScienceBloggers, as well as guest blogger Ivan Oelrich of the Federation of American Scientists.

It will be new and exciting for the Borg bloggers to finally discuss the intersection of politics with our varied scientific issues!
….. …….
/wipes eyes
You may find YHN posting an entry or two.

Here We Go!!

September 18, 2008

I just received an e-mail from NIH concerning the implementation of new peer review practices in the aftermath of the Enhancing Peer Review navel-gazing effort. Noteworthy implementation plans are excerpted inside the crack.

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Does Size Matter?

September 18, 2008

The annual meeting of a scientific society is a fixture in many scientific disciplines. The scientific society itself is mechanism to draw together subfields which focus on topics as general as immunology, neuroscience or physiology and as narrow as drug abuse, pain or Parkinson’s Disease. I’m sure many non-bio -ologies have similar arrays of scientific societies. Many of such scientific societies exist in large part to organize annual meetings for their membership and other interested scientists. The meeting affords a regular opportunity for scientists who work in geographically disparate locations to discuss their areas of scientific interest with a group of peers who share those interests. A typical meeting might last about 5 days and consist of a series of presentations from scientists on their latest work.
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SfN 2006 Poster Session
The question for the day was raised when a discussion on a prior post veered into the question of meeting size. Commenter Mike_F observed:

I think this issue of meeting size deserves a separate thread. Personally I subscribe to the notion that that if you don’t go to SFN you miss 100% of the meeting, while if you do go you miss 99.99%… . I would much rather invest the time and energy in an EMBO workshop or Gordon Conference in my field, where attendance is “only” ~100-150, but that invariably includes most of the movers and shakers of the field.

What is the ideal size for the scientific meeting?

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Since many of our current readers seem to think that we are a much B(er)SD blog than we actually are (see here and here if you really like PageView swingage), I will remind them that a very short time ago we were blogging at drugmonkey.wordpress.com and likely pulling in fewer visitors than many of you (who blog) are pulling in now.
I commented on a recent post at Working the BENCH recently, leading to much interesting discussion. (As always, you peeps are the best commenters EVAH!)
Trouble is, the discussion was entirely over here and not at Working the BENCH. My bad, your bad, our bad.

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Colleagues who have served on NIH study sections in recent rounds are reporting being surveyed by the NIH/CSR process which has been evaluating grant review. The NIH Peer Review Advisory Committee (PRAC) links are a good place to start if you want to catch up. Or you can start with some posts on the old blog.
It is no secret that I think it idiotic that so much of this breast beating about the “broken” review system has preceded without obvious and significant input from current reviewers. Well, now they are soliciting input.

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An acquaintance of mine, despite receiving what appear to be very enthusiastic reviews on one of her manuscripts, including language like this:

I found the results interesting and intriguing. They represent one of the first serious attempts to understand poogly-plugs at the cellular level. Thus, the work is of great importance and interest to the poogly-plug field. In addition, I believe that these findings are also of broad interest to researchers outside the poogly-plug field.

This is typical boilerplate language meant to convey “publish this motherfucker!” So what’s the fucking problem?

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LA Times blogger David Sarno has coverage of the implications of some new YouTube rules on posting clips depicting drug use.
I don’t have a lot of time at the moment to get into this but I will note that I have used embeds of the Salvia clips myself to make points in posts. And I’ve linked to a certain animated mashup video of a particular raggae song more than once. So I’m an interested party.
Knee-jerk sez: Waaah, censorship! My life is being affected for no obvious good reason.
MonkeyEgg.jpg
return to hunt
I’m sure I’ll reflect on the implications, the rationale (clips encourage drug use?) later but until then, have at it…

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Dear Person Seeking Training

September 12, 2008

It matters very little whether you are an undergraduate seeking a brief “experience’ in my lab, a potential graduate student or a post doc. Even a person seeking a technical position. You who have just emailed me. Yes, you.
Look, just about every source of information available tells you not to do it. Just about every professor blog (that’s what you kids read these days, right?) has a post like this one. Every other postdoc blog has these comments for the undergraduate assistants and trainees. Any etiquette book I’ve ever read tells you the same thing.
Do not send me a generic form mail.

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Jonathan of Working the BENCH describes a visit from a BSD teh awesomest evah scientist type. Career advice was provided:

“Many of the applicants we accepted came from labs where I knew their mentors. Not that I planned it that way – but good applicants come from good labs; and I know the heads of those labs. I know I can trust their letters of recommendations.”

I’m sure you can.

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Annual scientific meetings have many purposes. One of the most essential purposes that cannot be readily accomplished by other means is the initiation and development of inter-personal relationships. Call it networking, schmoozing or whatever you like. As with any other human enterprise, there are many aspects that are improved by meeting other people face to face and becoming acquainted with them.
There is an aspect of scientific meetings, however, that always presents a very difficult problem for YHN (see Figure 1).

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Teachign Scientists To Write

September 11, 2008

Female Science Professor posted today about a wackaloon experience she had going back and forth with an inexperienced trainee on revisions of a conference abstract submission. She and the trainee went back and forth about FSP’s revisions and the trainee’s expectations concerning the nature of guidance and feedback on the writing that was being provided. FSP discussed this with a colleagues:

In discussing this with colleagues, opinions are divided as to whether I should have been more helpful with respect to the student’s desire to be independent, even if it meant repeating the same editorial suggestions and going through even more than the 4 drafts I eventually read vs. whether I was too accommodating of the student’s lack of organization, initiative, and demonstrated ability to work independently.

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I love this stuff, really. Absolutely LOOOOOVVEEE it. The part of the blogosphere that is, for lack of a better term, Academic blogging. I’m on record with my affection for free availability of most of the benefits of those distribution/GenEd/elective courses I took in the humanities departments, lo, many a year ago. This is what absolutely addicted me to Adventures in Ethics and Science which I think was the original Sb hook set in me as a reader. Do you know how much those liberal arts college classes cost you these days? Did I mention it was for FREE? I love it.

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The NIH has announced the much anticipated ‘transformative’ R01 funding program. The mechanism has been dubbed the T-R01, apparently, soon to be pronounced simply ‘troll’, I have very little doubt.

The purpose of the T-R01 Program is to support exceptionally innovative, original or unconventional research that will allow investigators to seize unexpected opportunities and cultivate bold ideas regardless of the anticipated risk. T-R01 funding will support inventive and innovative studies intended to transform current paradigms in biomedical or behavioral sciences.

The Guide announcement indicates that the first round of applications are due on Jan 29, 2009.
Let’s take a look.

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AIDS and Animal Research

September 10, 2008

A recent post from Isis the Scientist reminds us of that which we are all too able to ignore in this era of Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART). HIV/AIDS may be slightly more controllable now. Infected individuals may be living much longer and with higher quality of life. Especially in the developed world regions from which much of this blog’s traffic derives. We have become somewhat complacent in comparison with my memory of the first stages of what has been termed the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Make no mistake. People are still dying prematurely. Dying because the scientific and medical efforts have been only partially successful and have yet to find a cure or preventative vaccine. People who are wonderful, helpful, joy-inducing, productive and loved members of our workplaces and families. Isis’ post laments the passing of an individual who was a close and valued colleague.
Isis’ post wonders if we have lost steam in our efforts to find cures or vaccines for AIDS.

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