Faculty of 1000

Post-publication peer review

Archive for November, 2009

New MD for f1000

Posted by stevepog on 23 November, 2009

News update

Respected long-time medical and science publisher Jane Hunter has joined Faculty of 1000 as its new Managing Director.

Faculty of 1000, which is a member of Science Navigation Group, is a unique online service that keeps scientists and clinicians informed of high-impact articles in biology and medicine.

These key articles are selected and evaluated by a distinguished international group of over 5000 experts, called Faculty Members.

Ms Hunter said: “This is a tremendous opportunity to be involved in a project and a field that I am passionate about. F1000 is building on its reputation as the expert’s guide to biology and medicine, and there are considerable avenues for business growth.”

Ms Hunter will have overall responsibility for all aspects of the business and answer to a Board of Directors that includes Chairman Vitek Tracz, Group Director Anne Greenwood, Group Finance Director Brett Hassell and Group Chief Executive Andrew Crompton.

Her most recent role was at Springer Science+Business Media, heading Current Medicine Group. She previously worked with Vitek Tracz as Managing Director of Science Press Internet Services, which she developed into a successful business.

Mr Tracz said: “We are very pleased to be working with Jane again and know that she can bring a fresh outlook to the company as we move towards relaunching and vastly improving our website early next year.”

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Take the long and winding road to succeed in science

Posted by stevepog on 20 November, 2009

One of our freelancers wrote a great article about a recent review on the f1000 site, so I wanted to reproduce it here:

How do scientists decide what to investigate?  Often, they choose an area that is in high demand,  hoping to get their work into the best journals as soon as possible.

But according to Uri Alon, of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, this strategy can be demotivating if the goals are not met, especially to younger scientists. Instead, he advises researchers to follow a less direct approach, where setbacks are considered part of the  process of discovery.

Ronen Zaidel-Bar recommends Alon’s article How to choose a good scientific problem in a recent evaluation on the F1000 Biology website.

“In the face of the cruel reality of ‘publish or perish’, Uri Alon offers some clear guidelines to help students and mentors nurture self-motivated research”, Zaidel-Bar says.

Alon’s commentary, published in the journal Molecular Cell, gives practical advice for researchers at all stages of their career. He encourages scientists to take time before they commit to a problem and ultimately choose what they find most interesting, rather than what is in demand. (ed. a good argument for ong-term job satisfaction)

Zaidel-Bar, who is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, agrees that “research motivated by our true interest is much more rewarding and resilient to the setbacks of scientific inquiry.”

Contributed by Eva Amsen

Posted in Communication, f1000, Science, Website | Comments Off on Take the long and winding road to succeed in science

Say something

Posted by rpg on 18 November, 2009

Cameron and Shirley have just published a paper on article level metrics, in our old favourite PLoS Biology. (Aside: why PLoS Biology? I guess no one would have found it in PLoS One…)

They make the point that because of the sheer volume of scientific literature (PubMed alone, which covers just a subset of the biomedical literature, is indexing over 800,000 articles annually), we need good

filters for quality, importance, and relevance

The filter most scientists use is journal based—we have our favourite journals, general and specific, and we rarely look outside them. The journal Impact Factor (IF) is the ‘objective’ measure of this. Cameron and Shirley summarize some of the problems with the IF, and then go on to look at article-level metrics and the problem with comments.

Comments is something I’m very interested in. One of the failings of the current f1000 sites is that you, the user, can’t leave feedback or engage in any meaningful way. But commenting on papers is something that really hasn’t taken off, despite several (on-going) experiments. There are a number of reasons for this, and I think that a major one is that people just can’t be bothered logging on to different sites. That’s where Google Sidewiki comes in, except I think it’s actually quite a faff and badly implemented too.

Back in summer, a group of us from various places (in London) got together to start discussing a federated approach to communicating the social interaction around scientific objects (i.e. sharing comments between sites).

I’m starting to re-visit this, and if you would like to explore this with us drop me a line.

As Cameron and Shirley conclude,

… in the spirit of science, let’s keep learning and experimenting, and keep the practice and dissemination of science evolving for the times.

We’ll be there.

Posted in Communication | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Helping the poorest countries get access to science knowledge

Posted by stevepog on 17 November, 2009

Scientists can sometimes be unfairly labeled as not caring about anything apart from their lab, grant applications and drug patents.

So it’s heartening that one of our important causes – offering free subscriptions to institutions in developing countries – gains such a positive response from Faculty Members and the recipients of free subscriptions.

Faculty Members (FMs) who submit regularly are given the opportunity to nominate an institute of their choice in a developing country for free access to f1000.

One of our Plant Biology FMs, Dr John Patrick from the University of Newcastle, Australia, sponsors the Universidad Central “Marta Abreu” de las Villas in Santa Clara, Cuba. He praised the program:

“Ready access to contemporary  scientific knowledge is a recognised major impediment for the developing world to reach sustainable self-sufficiency.  The F1000 sponsorship initiative offers a powerful instrument to bridge this unacceptable divide.”
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Our recipients have been just as impressed – Gabriela Echaniz from the National Institute of Public Health, in Mexico said:

“I just want you to know how useful your service has been for all researchers that work here. Not being able to get subscriptions for many regular publications that we use for our research, your help has been invaluable. We appreciate very much your work and hope to be able to keep the subscription for many years.”
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Some of our sponsored universities and institutes include:

  • University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji (Linda Amos)
  • Centre de Biotechnologie de Sfax, Sfax, Tunisia (Charles Auffray)
  • International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Cali, Colombia (Seth J Davis)
  • al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan (Sheila McCormick)

Our  sponsorship initiative, which extends upon the free access we already provide to institutions in the poorest countries (via HINARI),  and the global Research4Life program looks to be having an impact.

Statistics released at the World Conference of Science Journalists in July showed a six-fold increase  in research output by scientists in the developing world since 2002. A great result from a program that will continue to reduce the research divide between rich and poor countries.

Posted in f1000, FMs, Website | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Helping the poorest countries get access to science knowledge

On being systematic

Posted by rpg on 16 November, 2009

Over on another planet blog Darren Saunders asks what is an Associate Faculty Member (AFM).

There was some sales training on this subject last week and I sat in, so I should know. I’ve also been re-writing the FAQs for the new f1000 website and have just realized that there isn’t an FAQ relating to AFMs there, either. (Meta: how many times does a question have to be asked before it becomes ‘frequent’?) So, let’s have a stab at explaining it.

As you may or may not know, what Faculty of 1000 does is publish short reviews of the scientific (currently biology and medicine) literature. How this works is through our eponymous Faculty of over 5000 top scientists and medics, all over the world. These people are principle investigator level or higher. When they read a paper that they consider interesting, important, or otherwise worthy of wider recognition they write a review (or ‘evaluation’), assign a score (or rating) to the original article, and submit it to our editorial team (usually via a web interface). The piece is then edited in the usual way, coded to appropriate sections (i.e. sub-disciplines), and published on the website at f1000biology.com or f1000medicine.com, depending on the specialty of the contributing Faculty Member.

This system has been pretty successful for a few years now, and we know that people really like the service (because they tell us!). It lets scientists and medics see very quickly what’s happening in their own field, and rapidly get at what’s considered important in other communities (whether simply out of interest or because they’re moving into unfamiliar territory). Identifying important papers quickly and easily gauging the opinion of a field easily are not trivial tasks: f1000 is intended to help everyone, from students through to vice-chancellors, achieve this.

Critically, choice of articles to review is left entirely to the Faculty, and may come from any journal. Any journal: even the Harvard Business Review. Naturally there are a high proportion of articles from the usual suspects—Nature, Cell, NEJM, etc.—although about 80% come from ‘second tier’ or less popular journals (he says, desparately avoiding the ‘I’ word).You might expect this, seeing as certain journals review editorially before a paper goes anywhere near peer review, and actually are quite successful at it.

In a sense, we don’t care about the providence of the articles reviewed at f1000. If they’re good, we want to know (and ‘good’ means 1-2% of the current eligible literature). However, there are a lot of journals publishing good stuff, and how do we know we’re scanning the right ones if we’re just leaving it to serendipitous reading by the Faculty?

Enter the Associate Faculty. Currently about a thousand Faculty Members have one or more Associates: less senior members of their lab or practice (which can mean anything from a post-doc to a PI in their own right). Once a month we send these Associates a table of contents from two journals: one general, one ‘specific’; both self-nominated. The Associate checks the table against their own reading, and selects articles that they have already read that they will review. They also let us know if there are any articles that they think should be reviewed but that they will not do themselves: these then go into a ‘pot’ which we send (a couple of weeks later) to Associates who haven’t committed to producing a review that month.

When the Associate commits to reviewing an article, it’s pretty much between them and their Faculty Member as to how it’s handled. Sometimes the Associate will do the bulk of the writing, other times the Faculty Member will. In either case, the full Faculty Member has to approve the evaluation and has final say—they are the corresponding author.

We cover, at the last count, about 660 journals in this fashion. We’ve asked the Faculty to tell us what journals they think should be scanned in this scheme, and eventually we’ll be covering over a thousand different journals. This does not mean that we won’t be evaluating articles outwith this ‘core’ of journals: Faculty Members have complete freedom to evaluate papers regardless of where they are published. Our Associate Faculty help them identify the good stuff, and we help them to choose by providing the tables of content with a selection system (somewhat arcane, but we are working on it). The buzzphrase is ‘systematic and comprehensive’: we’re certainly systematic and are working on the comprehensive.

Hope that clears some things up for Darren.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Doing science to it

Posted by stevepog on 16 November, 2009

I often run updates on the news stories we put out from f1000 that are picked up in the media. Most of the time it’s good coverage, occasionally (as the mainstream news media is wont to do) they misinterpret the research and then some poor reporting is cut-and-pasted on blogs around the world.

In the UK, the Daily Mail and Daily Express are routinely derided for their page 1 mix of medical scare stories and unfounded cancer wonder drug revelations. US readers will have their own examples of media outlets that think ‘doing science’* to a story (eg. quoting stats from a straw poll by a first-year researcher from a low-grade institution) makes it factually correct.

The subject of the discussion today was this release on an F1000 Medicine review of research into how first-time mothers who have long-term exposure to a father’s semen have a lower risk of preeclampsia and generally healthier babies. The title was catchy, the science was sound and the story related to sex so it was bound to gain traction and it did, from the UK Telegraph, Daily Mail, Sky News Australia and a raft of medical and science blogs.

A blogger on Blisstree says using the word ‘faithful’ in the headline was incorrect and if you look into the detail of the study, the main focus is on the duration of sexual relationship between the mother and biological father, while the number of sexual partners is a sidenote. So we take it on the chin that the word ‘faithful’ was misplaced but the Blisstree blogger was wrong to say that many news stories (and us, by association) got the facts wrong.

It pays to be careful when making big statements: sometimes the difficulty is crunching the original title (in this case, Duration of sexual relationship and its effect on preeclampsia and small for gestational age perinatal outcome) into one that is factually correct and easy to understand. But not so simple that the original message gets lost and people start believing that tea cures cancer or other such nonsense.

*When it comes to ‘doing science’ to anything, this is the only time it’s applicable (thanks to Dresden Codak):

Doing science to it

Image courtesy of: http://topatoco.com/

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Final video from Society for Neuroscience meeting, I promise!

Posted by stevepog on 13 November, 2009

I finally conquered the beast that is Youtube this morning, managing to upload a Flash video that was rejected more than 20 times previously due to some unknown error and proved to be too large for our Vimeo or Metacafe channels to handle. It feels something close to winning £10 in the lottery after spending £100 on losing tickets.

Svenja Caspers from the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Jülich, Germany, discussed her presentation with F1000 on the connectivity pattern of the human inferior parietal lobule by means of diffusion tensor imaging.

*In other news, it is Shorthand Week and my new friends at Journalism.co.uk are running a competition, presumably for anyone who has had no use for shorthand since digital voice recorders were invented but can’t get those annoying squiggles out of their head.

Posted in Conferences | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Final video from Society for Neuroscience meeting, I promise!

Faraday’s forecast: F1000 is the future

Posted by stevepog on 11 November, 2009

Michael Faraday, the British chemist and physicist who discovered electromagnetic induction, may have completed his historic findings in the 19th century but he had the same problem as many modern researchers: too many academic papers, not enough time to read them all.

‘It is certainly impossible for any person … to read all the books and papers that are published in connection with his pursuit; their number is immense, and the labour of winnowing out the few … truths … is such that most persons who try .. are quickly induced to make a selection in their reading, and thus inadvertently, at times, pass by what is really good.’

Michael Faraday, 1826 (thanks to Yale library for reminding us of the quote)

Short of training spider monkeys to grab books from his library and turn to the right section relating to electricity, it’s no doubt Faraday would have gained much from a time-saving service such as ours. Though sometimes having actual monkeys (and not the web version) bring you things could be entertaining too. If I had hit the jackpot on Euromillions, that would be on my top 20 list.

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Where in the world is Carmen Smarandache?

Posted by stevepog on 6 November, 2009

We have added more videos from the Society for Neuroscience meeting and anyone who heard about it would know it was in Chicago.

Our dedicated camera crew of 1 managed to get some great footage which we’re still sorting through and, as previously mentioned, some of the videos just don’t seem to mesh with the Youtube format.

Luckily there are other video sharing sites out there and we’ve set up a new channel on Vimeo to host all those videos that Youtube, for unknown reasons, rejects.

*hope Carmen forgives me for the title, I’ve always wanted to reference that old geography game. Now I’ve used it up and need some new cliches to play with.

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One step forward, two steps back

Posted by stevepog on 4 November, 2009

I’m reposting an article sent to me by the Americans for Medical Progress (AMP), who essentially fight for equal rights for scientists in the animal research debate (previously mentioned on our blog) which is often dominated by PETA  and headline-grabbing extremist groups. AMP, like their UK cousins Understanding Animal Research and Pro-Test, face difficulties even when a newspaper appears to support their cause, as this example showed:


The Minneapolis Star Tribune has just posted to its website a feature on animal research that ran in the paper’s lifestyle section last Sunday.  The piece notes an erosion of public opinion in support of research, and cites some of the several efforts by the research community to reverse the trend, including the Research Saves campaign.

“One of the problems we have nationally is that people don’t see the connection between science and biomedical research and progress,” said Mayo Clinic research dean Dr. Michael Joyner. “Things like heart valves and statins wouldn’t be here without animal research.”

In the article, AMP Director Dick Bianco, an associate professor of surgery at the University of Minnesota, discusses his own outreach:  “I realized PETA was effective in the high schools, so I bring high school students to my lab. I’ve had almost 10,000 high school students through to see what a medical laboratory really is. I let them see the animals. These aren’t dungeon chambers.”

The article is printed below and may be found at http://bit.ly/2zvo4O.

You’ll see that the piece is flawed in many ways, such as leaving the impression that PETA decries violence by animal extremists (unlike HSUS, PETA’s leaders have refused to condemn such), and that only animal rights groups care about alternatives.  Nevertheless, it does bring the issue to public attention.  The Star-Tribune seeks  readers’ comments, and it is a fair assumption that animal rights advocates will be vocal.  Please consider leaving your own comment in support of research.

Posted in Communication, Journalism | Tagged: , | Comments Off on One step forward, two steps back