December 31, 2009
What’s up with these journal editing/reviewing systems that email the reviewers when the decision has been made but don’t append the reviews. Requiring the reviewer to go back and log into the reviewer site and make a few clicks decreases the numbers who are going to read over the other reviewer comments.
That’s bad. You should always read over the comments of the other reviewers as a continuing education / calibration of your own reviewing behavior. Plenty of journals just send you the Editor Decision and reviews as the notification. Easy. Peasy.
December 28, 2009
Funny how certain topics keep coming back to the table for discussion. I could just requote the first line of this repost, couldn’t I? The relevant current discussion comments are here, here and here. This post went up on the old blog Dec 11, 2007.
In a couple of comments to a recent post, people were exploring the concept of whether it matters if a particular individual is funded to do something since perhaps the other competing, well-funded labs will just do it anyway (start with this one). I would argue that this is wishful thinking. While there is some truth to the idea that only by accumulating a big pile of resources is one free enough to play around and take risks, established programs have a tendency to get conservative. So breaking up OldBoy type cronyism is a good goal.
As luck would have it, we have two RFAs (one doubles up for different mechanisms which is necessary with the new and idiotic grant packages) and a Program Announcement (with Set Aside Funding; “PAS”) from NIDA that let us pursue this a little more.
December 27, 2009
This was originally posted June 4, 2007.
This is a picture of Eloria noyesi eating a coca leaf from Chen et al 2006, Gene, 366 (1): 152-160, Molecular cloning and functional characterization of the dopamine transporter from Eloria noyesi, a caterpillar pest of cocaine-rich coca plants
December 26, 2009
This originally went up August 13, 2007.
Science has published an elegant posthumous article by Daniel E. Koshland, Jr. entitled The Cha-Cha-Cha Theory of Scientific Discovery … representing the 3 categories of discovery: Charge, Challenge, and Chance. In brief:
“‘Charge’ discoveries solve problems that are quite obvious … ‘Challenge’ discoveries are a response to an accumulation of facts or concepts that are unexplained by or incongruous with scientific theories of the time … ‘Chance’ discoveries are those that are often called serendipitous and which Louis Pasteur felt favored ‘the prepared mind.'”
I want to go a little beyond writedit’s point so I’ll quote more extensively from the article
December 25, 2009
Here’s wishing a very Merry Christmas to all of my Readers who are celebrating! I do hope you are surrounded by friends and family- even if they are driving you mad.
December 24, 2009
It has been a couple of years since I wrote this one and I was wondering to myself if study sections have been de-clustered. If you have an odd moment (and really, what else would you be doing the next couple of days) scan through your favorite study sections’ funded grant output and see how clustered those sections are at present. This post went up Dec 7, 2007 on the old blog.
We’ve been discussing the degree to which insular sub-groupings of scientists protect and maintain themselves and their peers through the grant review process. We’re using “bunny hopping” thanks to whimple and the NIH CSR calls this “clustering“. Note upfront that this analysis and discussion does not necessarily require overt malicious intent on anyone’s part. The presentation at the recent PRAC meeting from Don Schneider identified the IFCN (Integrative, Functional and Cognitive Neuroscience) group of study sections as top suspects in the “clustering” phenomenon. Can we derive a little more information one wonders?
December 23, 2009
There is an interesting paper that I just ran across which will possibly please a certain segment of my audience. You see, it provides a bit of a test of the hypothesis frequently bandied by my commenters that anti-drug messages backfire. That if you tell adolescents all sorts of bad things are going to happen to them if they try an illicit drug once, and it doesn’t happen, somehow you are actually encouraging them to try the drug again. This general area is an occasional interest of mine and you can read a few thoughts here, here, here, here and here. The paper itself is this one.
Skenderian JJ, Siegel JT, Crano WD, Alvaro EE, Lac A. Expectancy change and adolescents’ intentions to use marijuana. Psychol Addict Behav. 2008;22(4):563-569. [Free PubMed Central version]
This paper describes a secondary analysis of data collected under the National Survey of Parents and Youth which focuses on the efficacy of an anti-drug media campaign. This means that it is, necessarily, correlational in nature, not a prospective experiment*. The purpose of this secondary study was laid out as:
There are many possible reasons for [poor effect of anti-drug messages] including the possibility that the typical campaign often is designed to develop expectancies regarding marijuana use outcomes that may not be experienced by the initiate. Changes in expectancies regarding marijuana, and the effects of such changes on initiates’ intentions to continue use, are the focus of this investigation.
In short, if we deliver lies-to-children to adolescents, do we end up encouraging cannabis use?