Faculty of 1000

Post-publication peer review

Archive for October, 2009

Come on, do the locomotion

Posted by stevepog on 30 October, 2009

Videos and highlights keep flooding through to me from the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago last week, so it would be remiss of me not to post a few of them.

Jon Pierce Shimomura, an assistant professor at the University of Texas (Austin), spoke to F1000 on how nervous systems work together to execute different patterns of rhythmic neural activity, such as locomotion in animals that changes depending on their environment.


Posted in Communication, f1000 | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Come on, do the locomotion

Music makes the media go wild

Posted by stevepog on 28 October, 2009

We had a lot of love from the media this morning, courtesy of a fascinating article by Lutz Jäncke on brain plasticity and the correlation with musical talent and intelligence.

Daily Telegraph, Mail online, Metro and others interviewed Jäncke yesterday and there’s been a flood of requests for more words from the Professor. One strange request even included this question, probably from someone hoping their countless hours on Playstation aren’t going to waste:

Do you  believe Guitar Hero and similar devices have the same affect on the brain as playing a regular musical instrument?

Here’s the full F1000 Report:

F1000 Biology Report: Music drives brain plasticity

Posted in Communication, f1000 | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

A great beard maketh the scientist

Posted by stevepog on 27 October, 2009

There was a discussion at a recent Skeptics in the Pub night in London about the old stereotype of scientists being crazy old men with beards. While one of our interviewees was not particularly old or crazy, he ticked the third box very nicely. It’s no longer a stereotype worth sticking to, given the vast number of young women scientists on the scene (shout out to our new friends Darlene Cavalier and Joanne Manaster) but when it comes along, I feel the need to exploit it.

Thomas Jefferson University’s Michael Oshinsky also had a great topic to back up his hirsute appearance, have a look:

Posted in f1000 | 4 Comments »

F1000 on the Beeb

Posted by stevepog on 26 October, 2009

We had a nice mention on the BBC News website today, in a great article by Jason Palmer on science and Web 2.0 and the various methods researchers are using to meet each other, look for relevant information and maybe also meet potential partners (I doubt labs would ban match.com, would they?)

Here’s the relevant excerpt:

“The manner in which you become ‘literature aware’ can be slow and is limited in scope to the views and criticisms of your physically immediate peers,” said Ali Salehi-Reyhani, a PhD student in molecular imaging at Imperial College London.

“Web 2.0 throws that open to a global community of experts with tools like f1000 and Twitter.”

F1000 is a tool that highlights high impact papers and allows scientists to subject them to post-publication peer review.

“The viral nature of Twitter allows information to be rapidly and critically spread to an audience thousands to millions wide,” said Mr Salehi-Reyhani. “Tweeting scientists can exploit this to quickly pass on that hot new paper to their peers with minimal effort yet maximum effect.”

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The invisible conference

Posted by stevepog on 26 October, 2009

It’s not easy for any large gathering of people to almost completely bypass the interweb these days but the conference I attended last Thursday seemed to have achieved the anonymity MI6 spies could only dream of.

Sure, there are thousands of conferences (in the real world and online) that go on daily in this city and others round the world but even the smallest and most insignificant seem to have a hashtag dedicated to them on Twitter, a Facebook page and at least 20 hits on an average Google search.

Unless the details being discussed are a matter of national security, in an age when even the BNP’s secret agendas are being retweeted, it did seem odd that an international biotech meeting (intelligently titled Biotech 09), attended by government and industry leaders, was virtually nonexistent on the web.

And yes, while it was very dry with only a few speakers who deigned to tell a joke (thank you, Sir Mark Walport, Wellcome Trust director) and way too many sales pitches disguised as serious industry updates, there were still some very interesting, newsworthy or at the least bloggable points being made.

Conference sponsor PepTcell’s CEO Gregory Stoloff tackled the UK government policy on pandemic flu, warning the audience of impending doom if New Labour didn’t approve his company’s flu drug for general consumption. While a bit theatrical (in the ‘Merchant of Venice’ rather than ‘Avenue Q’ sense), the stats quoted from the southern hemisphere’s winter experience of pandemic flu were thought-provoking and slightly scary: 1 in 3  down under caught the flu and 1 in 25 were hospitalised. If the numbers were converted for the UK population, at least 16,000 would need intensive care – a slight problem given there will only be 4000 intensive care beds in the UK by Christmas.

Sir Mark nicely alluded to the NHS’s current inability to contribute to the ‘future knowledge economy’, in his opinion owing to the masses of patient data the NHS collates but does not use to assist biotech development.

A Socttish accent and attitude can help to liven the atmosphere and Fergus McKenzie from ITI Life Sciences did an admirable job of making their £9.6 million stem cell technology program interesting enough to actually attract some rare audience questions.

At this point I’d try to post a link to another blog/news site with more informative discussion on the conference but, as you might have guessed,  there isn’t any I could find. Note to the organisers: invisibility doesn’t mean exclusivity and if no one is talking about you, it generally means they don’t find you interesting.

Posted in Conferences, f1000, Random | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on The invisible conference


Posted by rpg on 23 October, 2009

We had a long discussion this morning about beta blockers.

Beta blockers are drugs used to treat various heart-related conditions but particular arrhythmias (when your heart, instead of boom boom, goes boomdiddyboomdebopbipbop or something equally alarming), high blood pressure and angina. They work by inhibiting different classes of so-called adrenergic receptors: the trans-membrane collections of protein that signal to the inside of the cell that there’s a shedload of adrenaline (or epinephrine, if you prefer) on the outside. With results that may or may not be desirable.

Fight or flight. Your choice

Fight or flight. Your choice

But it turns out that we weren’t talking pharmacologically. No, we’ve been having a discussion about things called ‘agile’,  ‘scrums’ and ‘behaviour-driven design’. These are all to do with models for developing software, and it turns out that I should know about this so that we can get the new f1000 website up and running.

Which brings us back to beta blockers.

You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it does

You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it does

In this context, ‘beta blockers’ are the things that stop us from releasing a beta version of the new site. The plan is to have a private beta around the second week of November, and certain features need implementing and various bugs need squishing. And then, and then I’ll be able to invite some very lucky people to have a first look at what we’ve been doing all this time.

If you’re already a registered user of f1000 and in a subscribing organization, drop me a line (here or by email) if you’re interested in being on the private beta list. We’ll want to give you some tasks, or questions, and there might be a free t-shirt in it for you (woot!).

There are hints of a subsequent ‘open’ beta some time in December, but be assured I’ll let you know about that nearer the time. And with impeccable timing, I’m off on leave this evening for a week, and then I have a conference in South Carolina, so I’m going to leave this place in the capable hands of Steve P.

Be good, y’all.

Posted in Development, Friday afternoon | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

F1000 visits the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting

Posted by stevepog on 20 October, 2009

Our colleagues flew in to the Windy City  this week for the Society of Neuroscience annual meeting and spoke to some of the fine graduate students who created poster presentations being displayed at the Chicago event.

University of Minnesota’s Aaron Overland was one of the lucky group picked for an interview about his presentation – his is the first of a series on our Youtube channel.

Two posters from the event:

Aaron Overland SfN Poster 09

Rachel Grashow SfN Poster 09

Posted in f1000 | 1 Comment »

You can’t always get what you want

Posted by rpg on 18 October, 2009

I was at the Internet Librarian International on Thursday and Friday of last week. Not the sort of conference I’m used to attending but as we were sponsoring it we had a speaking slot, and I seemed the obvious choice!

Rather than talk about f1000 or give a ‘corporate’ presentation I talked about the Journal Impact Factor, about alternative metrics, about the difficulties in assessing the literature, discovering quality, and locating what’s important. (This is actually what we’re in the business of doing, but aside from the branding I only mentioned what we do in passing. This was appreciated by the audience and organizers, as it turns out: and we stood out from the crowd because of it!)

I may have mentioned ‘Web 3.0’ a couple of times. As I see it, Web 1 (which it was never known as) was typified by information coming from a more or less authoritative source to many consumers. Web 2.0 was where you got people producing and sharing the information on a more level playing field; between themselves, as I told the Research Information Network back in May:

rpg at RIN, May ’09

And yeah, the Web is not the internet, and ‘Web 2.0’ was happening off-Web as it were for years before anyone thought of the term: through bulletin boards, Usenet etc. The wonders of marketing.

Web 3, I think, is when we figure out how to use all this funky technology that enables peer-to-peer, all the tagging and RSS and search and everything, and actually start finding stuff. To be more precise: all the power of web 2.0 gets brought to us where we are in useful, digestible chunks. A guy can dream, can’t he?

That’s what we’re trying to achieve at f1000, in our small corner. To find the important literature (currently biology and medicine, although that might expand) and to bring what you’re interested to you, in the way you want to see it. We’re not there yet, and the new site won’t hit it straight off, but we have lots of ideas and times are beginning to look exciting.

Anyway, the talk seemed to be well-received (I got spontaneous applause!) and Tom was on hand to record it. I spent yesterday afternoon trimming the video and inserting (some of) my slides as cutaways. And then about four hours uploading them because the internets don’t seem to reach south of the river…

Here’s me from Thursday (in two parts):


Posted in Conferences, Literature, Metrics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Our brains are the original energy savers

Posted by stevepog on 16 October, 2009

“Hippocampal mossy fibers” may sound like abnormal skin growths on a rare African mammal (to me at least) but they are actually axons of granule cells in the hippocampus which deal with different types of bevaviour such as spatial learning.

The region is also where scientists have discovered the brain’s ability to be energy efficient, detailed in a paper given a high rating by two of our F1000 Biology Faculty Members.

Environmentalists may not be initally be excited by the brain’s power saving nature but the potential is there for the concepts gained to be applied to tech products, as soon as someone with the medical and tech smarts can make the link.

It got me thinking (and I often branch off onto tangents so try to stay with me), what function of the body would be a brilliant thing to replicate? The brain is an obvious one and I won’t even consider genitalia as an answer but what other organs/systems could be reproduced in technological form to make daily life easier?

Similar to the brain’s energy saving ability, the body’s heating and cooling system would be a perfect one.  Airconditioning units may be getting more environmentally-friendly and better at regulating room temperature but as good as our office A/C system is, after about half an hour it leaves me either too hot or too cold.

A quick Google search comes up with thousands of personal heating and cooling products but despite the marketing hype, there’s still nothing out there that really replicates the body’s ability to adapt to the weather conditions.

Over to you 🙂

Posted in f1000, Medicine | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Our brains are the original energy savers

Note to self: have Youtube channel, will not obsess on view stats

Posted by stevepog on 9 October, 2009

This is one of the first videos uploaded to our Youtube channel, taken from a tutorial on the Faculty of 1000 website (which explains the opening frames: me scrambling to press play on the Flash player).

In the long term we’re aiming to have Faculty Members talk about their areas of expertise, feature clips of staff members talking at international science conferences and anything else we think is relevant.

Subscribe, send us friend requests and just check out the content http://www.youtube.com/Facultyof1000

Posted in f1000 | Comments Off on Note to self: have Youtube channel, will not obsess on view stats