Faculty of 1000

Post-publication peer review

Archive for January, 2010

On the run-29Jan10

Posted by rpg on 29 January, 2010

Vitek quotes a Polish proverb,

If you’re going to fall off a horse, make it a big one.

In that vein, take a look at this graph (don’t look too closely; it’s deliberately a tiny bit obscure):Graph of ffJ and Journal Impact factor

What I’ve been doing this week is mostly hacking away in Perl at some of the information in our database. As you may know, each evaluation in f1000 has a score associated with it, based on the rating given an article by Faculty Members. We’ve redone the scoring and I’ve worked out a way of combining those scores, or ‘article factors’ as we’ve taken to calling them, for each journal that is represented at f1000. This gives us a ‘journal factor’, ffJ. It’s our answer to the journal Impact Factor, in fact; and the graph above is the top 250 journals according to our ratings (in blue) with the appropriate Impact Factor in red.

You’ll notice right away that there isn’t a one-to-one correlation, and of course we’d expect that (the Impact Factor has serious problems, which I’ve talked about previously). I’m currently analysing our data a bit more deeply, and I’ll be writing a paper with that analysis, as well as talking about it at the March ACS conference in San Francisco.

Last Friday evening I went down the Driver with a couple of the dev team and a bunch of people from places as varied as BioMed Central, Nature Publishing Group, Mendeley and Mekentosj. We talked about what we’re variously calling cross- or federate-commenting. On the whole we’ve decided it’s a good idea, and we simply have to figure out how to do it. What this implies of course is that we’re actually going to allow user comments at f1000—and indeed that’s the plan. I’m looking forward to rolling out this functionality to you, not least because when people want to raise questions about articles evaluated on f1000, they’ll be able to.

While we’re on the mythical new site, we asked another web designer what they could come up with for us. And for the first time, all of us who saw the design liked it. So hopefully we’ll be able to get that implemented real soon now and I’ll be able to start showing you what you’re going to get, you lucky people. (Rumours that someone said “It looks like a proper website!” are completely unfounded.)

Interesting reviews

A couple of things you may have missed.

First, the (possible) mechanism behind photophobia in migraines. Turns out that people who are functionally blind, but sensitive to circadian input and pupillary light reflexes are susceptible to photophobia. Work in rats published in Nature Neuroscience implicates a (previously uncharacterized) multisynaptic or heavily networked retinal path.

In Biology, the problem of de novo assembly of DNA sequence reads into sensible contigs from massively parallel sequencing technologies has been addressed. This, if it works, would bring exciting concepts such as personal genomics that little bit closer. The paper is in Genome Research (subscription required) and you can read the evaluation for free.

And finally

Faculty of 1000  is big in Italy—or at least on Facebook. My post on the recycling of integrins drew an excited response from one Grazia Tamma, who was then mocked mercilessly by her brother!

Hang in there, Grazia; science is great and the cytoskeleton rocks.


Posted in Friday afternoon, Indicators, Metrics | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Denying evolution, denying climate change: how does ‘belief’ fit in with science?

Posted by stevepog on 28 January, 2010

Denialism by Michael Specter

One of the more interesting speakers at the recent Science Online conference in North Carolina was the author of Denialism and lover of controversy, Michael Specter.

The New Yorker staff writer gave an impassioned speech at the conference’s opening gala on the current blight of denialism, which he defines as what happens, “when an entire segment of society, often struggling with the trauma of change, turns away from reality in favor of a more comfortable lie.”

Specter’s  targets included US-centric personalities and companies such as anti-MMR activist Jenny McCarthy, vitamin supplement king Dr Andrew Weil and basically the whole organic food community, which no doubt alienated some Wholefoods-loving audience members.

He also spoke about the media’s culpability in prominently running stories  that influence the demise of useful drugs and often lead people to lose trust in science. If Specter was aware of the UK’s Daily Mail, he could have added that paper to the blacklist (an excellent Facebook group has been set up listing the Mail’s scare stories about cancer, here).

At conferences and presentations I’ve attended, it’s a constant gripe that the public often associates belief with science and that people will choose to trust a homeopathic remedy or not believe in climate change despite all the unequivocal scientific evidence to hand proving the opposite. This is already an old theme among the science community but the rise in popularity of pro-science media advocates such as Specter and the UK’s Ben Goldacre and George Monbiot are hopefully a sign that people are tired of believing wonderdrug claims or gloomy scare stories and want to know the facts behind the hype.

Here is a short clip of Specter’s talk (apologies for the low sound and shaky recording):

Posted in f1000 | Comments Off on Denying evolution, denying climate change: how does ‘belief’ fit in with science?

Come Home

Posted by rpg on 25 January, 2010

Back when I was an acolyte in the service of science, I worked on an interesting little big protein by the name of talin. This 270 kDa sucker is involved in focal adhesions: the ‘ankle’ of the cell, joining the actin cytoskeleton to the outside world. Focal adhesions are fascinating and complex, and if I had access to my thesis right now I’d draw you a picture. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Talin is a molecule that back then was probably too big a problem for a grad student to tackle more or less single-handedly; the post-doc was was concentrating on some genetic analysis and my supervisor was taken up with the department’s computing services, which left very little lab time. I did manage to show that talin didn’t, as had been proposed, cap or nucleate actin polymerization (a negative result that was essentially unpublishable), and I also developed a long-term love of immunofluorescence microscopy. It appears we were ahead of our time: talin is closely involved with integrins (which see) and seems to be enjoying a (re-)surgence of interest lately.

Back to focal adhesions. Formation of these structures, completely essential to cell adhesion and migration, has been pretty thoroughly prodded. What’s interesting is how focal adhesions disassemble, so that the moving cell doesn’t get stuck. Again, this is something I had a professional interest in: one of my projects in Cambridge involved  the determination of how moving cells generate the required motile force, or how they put their ‘feet’ forward’. We used a model system and discovered that essentially it’s gel effects. You take a load of little rods (= actin filaments), grow them, and the space they fill is disproportionately large, driving protrusion. What we didn’t do was look at the trailing edge of the cell, how the ‘foot’ comes up again. That was something I would have dearly loved to work on, and if I’d stayed in Cambridge, or even in science, I might have worked on it.


Good job I didn’t, because we’ve just published an evaluation of a paper showing that focal adhesion disassembly is just as complex as assembly. It turns out that our old friend clathrin, along with two of its adaptors, gets directed to focal adhesions by microtubules, and, as you might expect seeing as clathrin is involved, the integrins are reincorporated into the cell by endocytosis, and recycled (rather than being left behind as the cell walks away. I don’t think any of us thought much of that hypothesis anyway, but I mention it for completeness.)

The researchers used total internal reflection fluorescence and watched individual molecules on the underside of migrating cells scooting around. The clathrin sidled up to focal adhesions, hooked up with integrin; and the two left the party together.

time series of leaving the partyGet your coat, you’ve pulled

Just as we don’t think that our spaghetti/copper wire/gel effects produce all the force required for forward motion, neither is it certain that all focal adhesion disassembly is driven this way (the paper says that depleting clathrin reduces disassembly by 60-80%) . Talin itself has a head domain and an extended domain, and there is a calpain protease recognition site at the join (this was an immense pain when purifying the native protein; I had to make sure everything was swimming in protease inhibitors). Similarly, it’s possible that calpain actively degrades one or more focal adhesion components to make sure the whole thing gets packed away nicely, even if that does seem expensive in energy terms.

It doesn’t stop there, of course. Somehow these integrins have to get recycled to the front of the cell. It would makes sense for the little blighters to make their way through known endocytotic pathways and be ready for reassembly into focal adhesions at the business end of the cell, this hasn’t yet been demonstrated directly. It’s probably a mass effect. He said, airily.

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Posted in Literature, Science | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

On the run-22Jan10

Posted by rpg on 22 January, 2010

Last week I met up with a Certain Editor from a Certain Journal. We had a nice chat about, among other things, the policy of Certain Journals as regards the wind direction in the publishing industry. From the research side of the fence it’s easy to assume that publishing houses are monolithic edifices intent on maintaining a monopoly; unchanging and unfeeling; not to mention dirty money-grabbing bastards. Certain Advocates (not all!) of Open Access/Open Science hold to this view.

Naturally, the truth is a bit more subtle. Publishing is a business, which means that publishers are actually going to drive change, because if they don’t they will wither and die. Cell’s Article of the Future is a case in point (you might not like it, but you can’t deny that Elsevier are innovating). Publishers that see their competitors doing stuff are going to adapt and respond as necessary. Because if there’s a new paradigm brewing and they’re not on board, things will turn out bad for them. (The trick, of course, is to figure out what is actually a new paradigm and what is simply a tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury.)

Not unrelated to this preamble, you may have noticed a slight addition to the type of things we evaluate. For example, we have something titled Endogenous Forces Exerted at E-cadherin Based Cell-Cell Contacts:

The authors first determine that the traction forces that a single cell exerts on the underlying substrate are balanced across the cell. However, for cell pairs, it was determined that the traction forces exerted on the substrate for an individual cell did not balance, with the force imbalance reflecting the force exerted on the cell-cell contact.

but it’s not a paper being evaluated, it’s a poster.

Poster preview

I have more—much more—to say about this initiative, so stay tuned for updates.

While we’re on f1000, an evaluation you might have missed. (I’ve been meaning to blog about it all week, but as you’ll see it’s not really my fault. Or perhaps it is?) The piece, by Lutz Jäncke at the University of Zurich, starts provocatively:

One of the most virulent disputes between neuroscience and philosophy is whether human beings are equipped with a free will.

The brain is thought to generate decisions before the conscious mind gets involved, based on electroencephalography measurements. The ‘Bereitschaftspotential’ starts up to 1.5 seconds before movement is executed. However, in an elegant but mind-bending experiment published in Neuropsychologia, a diverse group of researchers find that there is a final check that seems to be under the control of the individual, an ultimate ‘yes or no’ that appears to be freely willed:

Planned actions can be subjected to a final predictive check which either commits actions for execution or suspends and withholds them. The neural mechanism of intentional inhibition may play an important role in self-control.

There goes my excuse that the voices in my head made me do it. You can read the evaluation, free for three months, here.

In other news, the dev team have been working on the search mechanism for the new f1000.com website. One of the major criticisms of the current Biology and Medicine sites is that it’s actually quite difficult to find the search bar, probably because it’s never in the same place. The new site is based around search (very Web 3.0, yeah?) and so it’s something that’s essential to get right. I think you’ll like what we’ve done, and once we get the design right I’ll post some screen shots. What I can tell you now is that you’ll have no problems finding it!

Finally, don’t forget to check out our Facebook page. Steve has been busy updating it with press release and video links, and we’ve noticed that several of you are reading the blog through it. Please feel free to ping us either here or on Facebook if there’s anything you’d like to see.

Have a great weekend!

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Posted in f1000, Friday afternoon, Literature, Website | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on On the run-22Jan10


Posted by rpg on 21 January, 2010

The distribution and uptake of antivirals and vaccination was in the news quite a bit before Christmas. H1N1 swine flu didn’t turn out to be the Armageddon some commentators were forecasting, but I don’t think it’s overstating the case to say that we dodged a bullet there. In cases like this we might expect the government to give a clear message, based on the best possible epidemiology. No, please, stop laughing. After all, the UKian government was right about the MMR combined vaccine, even if they did handle the situation incredibly poorly.

And that’s a problem, isn’t it? In our culture we don’t trust what the government tell us anymore. That may or may not be a good thing, but it certainly creates problems for public health policy, especially in a potential epidemic situation. Sometimes it’s quite clear what the right thing to do is, but how do we get them to do it?

A paper just published in PNAS and reviewed on f1000 (link free for three months) sets out an economic framework for controlling transmissible and evolving diseases. Now, I’m not an epidemiologist (you should possibly go and talk to my mate Bill if you’re that interested), and the argument therein apply more to a healthcare system that is not free at point of care (Obama’s reforms notwithstanding), but it’s an interesting paper nonetheless.

Antibiotic treatment for otitis media

“public policies such as taxing and subsidizing goods are frequently used to correct (for public benefit) the private actions of individuals when externalities, or side effects, of these actions exist.”

By comparing four different scenarios and addressing negative externalities, the authors predict where financial dis/incentives should be applied for maximum public health benefit. The scenarios discussed here are

  1. Tetanus: infectious but not transmissible between humans, and no herd immunity
  2. Measles: infectious, effective vaccination that generates a herd effective by reducing transmission
  3. Otitis media: non-transmissible, but unnecessary antibiotic treatment can lead to the negative externality of antibiotic resistance
  4. Pandemic influenza: antiviral treatment generates negative (resistance) and positive (reduced transmission) externalities.

Antiviral treatment for pandemic flu

There’s a whole heap of math in this paper, and although (or perhaps because) I’m supposed to be coming up with robust formulae for our rankings on the main site, it makes my brain hurt.

I find the thesis that economic impact can be leveraged to get maximum public health benefits an interesting one. I’m not sure how that would apply to the UK, for example, where the cost of healthcare is more-or-less invisible.

Infectious diseases tend to evolve quite rapidly when we attempt to control them, whether we use antibiotics, other drugs or prophylactic vaccinations. The framework expounded in this paper should prove to be readily applicable to a wide range of such diseases. Assuming, of course, that the authorities responsible for public health have the appropriate fiscal executive power, and access to current and accurate scientific information…

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Posted in Literature, Medicine | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Money

Private investigations

Posted by rpg on 20 January, 2010

One of the really great things about science is its potential for self-correction. If you have an hypothesis, a result (strange or otherwise), a set of data, it can be tested by anyone. This is encouraged, in fact: when you publish you’re not just saying ‘look how clever I am’ but also ‘here’s something new! Can you do it too?’. This philosophy is diametrically opposed to that behind Creationism, say; or homeopathy. In those belief systems whatever the High Priest says is of necessity true, and experiment must bend around them until the results fit.

This means that, in science, a finding or publication that people get very excited about at the time can be shown to be wrong—either through deliberate fraud, experimental sloppiness (although the boundary between the two can be fuzzy) or simply because we’re as scientists wiser now than we were then. This happens, and it’s normal and part of the process. We should welcome it; indeed, my friend Henry Gee has claimed that everything Nature publishes is wrong, or at least provisional.

So what we have to do is be completely open about this, no matter how embarrassing it is for the journal that published the work in the first place.

You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?

It was Derek Lowe who first alerted me to a paper published in Science last year, with the ome-heavy title Reactome Array: Forging a Link Between Metabolome and Genome. This was flagged as a ‘Must Read‘ (free link) back in November, because according to our reviewer Ben Davis

If this worked it could be marvellous, superb.

However, as Ben said in his evaluation,

this work should be read with some caveats. Try as we might, my group, as well as many colleagues, and I have tried to determine the chemistry described […] In my opinion, this is a work that deserves a “Must Read” rating and I strongly encourage the reader to read the source material and reach their own conclusions.

And as Derek points out, Science published an ‘Editorial expression of concern‘, noting a request for  evaluation of the original data and records by officials at the authors’ institutions, as well as mentioning it on their blog. Heavy. Immediately I saw this, I let our Editorial team know we might have a problem and we published a note to warn our readers that the work described in the paper was suspect.

Today we published a dissent to the evaluation from Michael Gelb, who says

There are many reactions shown that seem unusual and controversial […] My colleagues and I have tried to decipher the chemistry shown in Figure 1 of the main text and in the supplemental material. Many of the indicated reactions seem highly unlikely to occur, and the NMR data showing that some of the structures that were made are confusing and controversial.

We’ve also published a follow-up from Ben:

I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed in the Dissenting Opinion. The chemistry presented in this paper and in the online SI has varied in its description and content worryingly over the last 2 months.

and, rather tellingly,

as yet no chemical samples or key reagents have yet been made generally available.

(One of the usual conditions of publishing in reputable journals is that you make reagents available to other scientists, so that they can repeat your work. Failing to honour this commitment is not playing to the rules.)

It’ll be interesting to see when, not if, the original paper is retracted; and by whom.

And this, people, is the self-correcting wonder of science. Remember this, next time someone starts rabbiting about scientific conspiracies, or sends you their new theory of general relativity, or anything else that sounds crazy. It probably is.

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Posted in Journals, Literature, Science | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Here we go again

Posted by rpg on 19 January, 2010

CAM is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered to be part of conventional medicine. While scientific evidence exists regarding some CAM therapies, for most there are key questions that are yet to be answered through well-designed scientific studies—questions such as whether these therapies are safe and whether they work for the purposes for which they are used.

So says the US National Institutes of Health about ‘complementary and alternative’ medicine. What the NIH doesn’t tell you is that some people get quite ratty, and indeed irrational, when talking about it. It also fails to point out that that if something doesn’t work it can hardly be called ‘medicine’, so the phrase ‘complementary and alternative medicine’ is a bit pointless.

Yes, I know: CAM means anything that isn’t ‘Western’ medicine, the stuff that often has huge amounts of evidence behind it and that actually makes people better. Or maybe anything that isn’t pouring money into the coffers of multinational pharmaceutical companies—as if that’s somehow worse than pouring money into the coffers of those who offer sugar pills and countless different vitamin formulations.

Anyway, the point is that anything that claims to be a medicine can be tested, to see if it actually does make people better. Isn’t that what we’re trying to do? Anyone who tells you that a CAM therapy can’t be tested is lying to you, and by the way, when did you last see your wallet? The endpoint for all medicines or treatments is really quite simple: does someone who is unwell get better as a result? Where things get complicated is in the testing protocols you use: in defining ‘better’; in the appropriate choice of controls; in statistical analysis; in dosage; and indeed in defining what ‘unwell’ means in each case. (It’s trivial to feel a bit run down, take some supplement or do yoga and feel better again, and say that the intervention worked; when in fact you had just had a couple of bad nights’ sleep. This is why the plural of ‘anecdote’ isn’t ‘data’.)

More problems arise when people start getting lazy and lumping together things like herbalism and acupuncture with homeopathy. One of those involves chemicals extracted from plants, one involves a surgical procedure; and one nothing at all. It makes no sense at all to compare them as equals. (Now you might say that homeopaths treat the patient and not the condition, and you might well be right; but conventional medicine also has that. It’s called ‘bedside manner’ and it’s very powerful.) Now, I have no particular beef with homeopathy per se: if educated, well-informed people want to try it, then that’s their lookout. But when people in positions of authority or responsibility actively deny access to ‘conventional’ medicines that actually work, in favour of witchcraft, I get a bit tetchy.

We talked a week or two ago about a study that looked at a herbal remedy; chamomile. There, chamomile came out as beneficial in cases of mild anxiety. This was a nicely done trial, with a result that wasn’t really surprising. After all, people have been using it for ages (and noticed an effect; presumably if they hadn’t they’d stop buying it) and there’s actually some chemical in it that has a chance of being biologically active. Chamomile tea might well be classified as a CAM, and it works. We can call it ‘medicine’, therefore, even if it’s not prescribed or ‘conventional’.

A study reviewed on f1000 this week examined acupuncture in the management of post-operative pain in children. Again, actually doing something to people had an effect; and this is with anaesthetized patients (so you might think that patient bias is reduced). This reminds me, parenthetically, of my favourite placebo story. Back in the Fifties a particular treatment for angina involved ligating certain arteries. When people did the proper experiment, they found that a sham procedure (under sedation, not anaesthetic) was just as effective, at least in the short term. Rather than say “hey, we’ve discovered something odd here” the surgeons stopped doing the procedure (that’s because they were medics, I presume. Were they scientists they might have played with the observation a bit). This also is not too surprising: acupuncture seems to work. We might not know how it does, but at least we can guess that the mechanism involves stimulation of certain nerves or release of endorphins, or something testable (but probably not some mysterious ‘life energy’):

For short-term outcomes, acupuncture showed significant superiority over sham for back pain, knee pain, and headache. For longer-term outcomes (6 to12 months), acupuncture was significantly more effective for knee pain and tension-type headache but inconsistent for back pain (one positive and one inconclusive).

The accumulating evidence from recent reviews suggests that acupuncture is more than a placebo for commonly occurring chronic pain conditions. If this conclusion is correct, then we ask the question: is it now time to shift research priorities away from asking placebo-related questions and shift toward asking more practical questions about whether the overall benefit is clinically meaningful and cost-effective?

And then we have the homeopaths. Bless them: although they say we can’t, or shouldn’t, test homeopathic ‘treatments’ like we test other CAM, sometimes they’ll go ahead anyway. And they’ll say things like

Piglets of the homeopathic treated group had significantly less E. coli diarrhoea than piglets in the placebo group (P < .0001).

Which, if true, would be brilliant.

But it’s not, is it? This is why they’re publishing in Homeopathy and not somewhere like Nature (because believe me, if it were true this would be Big News). Even so, that’s a remarkable claim, and I had a look at the paper to see what was going on.

It’s really rather simple. They treated (observer-blind, apparently. I guess the pigs didn’t know what they were getting) sows with either an homeopathic preparation or a placebo (or maybe vice versa. Hard to say). And then they scored the offspring of these sows for E. coli-caused diarrhoea. The piglets that had diarrhoea that wasn’t caused by E. coli didn’t get counted. Funnily enough, those pigs were all in the treatment group, which is how the authors managed to get a sixfold decrease and that rather splendid-looking p value. And how did they determine that those pigs weren’t suffering from that particular form of the squits? Well, it wasn’t by microbiology:

Faeces were cultured to identify enteropathogenic E. coli, E. coli K99 and Salmonella. None of these were identified as present in the faeces sample. This does not per se demonstrate that enteropathogenic E. coli were not present at the farm at that moment. It was a relatively small sample size of three litters, which would not necessarily include the infective agent. Because treatment with Coli 30C had worked before, and E. coli diarrhoea generally can be distinguished based on day of appearance and colour, this was not further investigated.

Translation: “We believed there was E. coli in these pigs. We failed to prove it, but that doesn’t matter because we are strong in the Force, and you should believe it too. And there was no way we were going to check the whole batch, because then we might find an inconvenient absence of what we want to prove.”

And seeing as they didn’t publish the raw data, who are we to argue anyway?

It’s hardly any wonder, with work of this ‘quality’ finding its way into the literature, that homeopaths are still making a fast buck through the gullibility of ordinary people. So I heartily commend to you the 1023 ‘Overdose’ event on Saturday 30th January. This is where a bunch of community-minded people are going to, en masse, swallow a whole bottle of some homeopathic pills to proof they’re ineffective. And to reward you, loyal reader, for making all this way to the end, here’s a joke:

Did you hear about the homeopathy patient who died of an overdose?

He forgot to take his medicine.

Posted in Medicine, Science | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

How do you summarise Science Online 2010 in 140 characters?

Posted by stevepog on 19 January, 2010

Inquisitive, hungry, intense, can get nasty? Science nerd or squirrel?

Science Online 2010 wrapped up on Sunday and, despite its brilliant format, great networking opportunities and overall general coolness of fun and quirky participants, I was left with a dilemma.

If anyone can possibly tell me how to wrap up a conference about science, the web, technology and journalism to fit into a Twitter post, I will either fund your child’s college education (or at least buy them a cell biology textbook) or do the Locomotion at the next Sci Online 2011 (as an Australian, sorry about Kylie Minogue).

Because for anyone new to Twitter or just not good at headline-style conversation, even isolating topics into a catchy tweet was difficult. If you don’t believe me, check out the archive here and see what really catches your eye.

My point being that, for those who have mastered the art of the tweet, it really does equate to microjournalism and full-length blogging should as such be given the same cred as ‘dead-tree’ media (thanks to an unknown conference delegate for pulling out that term. Should we call web writers ‘ozone-depleting’ or ‘powergrid-draining’ media?).

It will take a while to get my summary of the conference to a respectable length, so for now I’ll refer to others who have already slept off their jetlag, showed their respect to the great dreamer on Martin Luther King Day and got their thoughts into an ordered state not overly addled by caffeine or sweet tea (an abominable North Carolina drink, sorry for saying so).

Co-organiser Bora gathered a full list together at http://scienceblogs.com/clock/2010/01/blogmedia_coverage_of_scienceo.php, which includes some of my favourites so far:






In another recent news, here’s a link to a new f1000 Report discussing osteoarthritis treatments:

f1000 Report by Yves Henrotin

Posted in Communication, Conferences, f1000, Journalism, Literature, Science | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

Sarah Greene to head up The Scientist

Posted by rpg on 18 January, 2010


18 January 2010

Sarah Greene to head up The Scientist

Sarah Greene, publishing and new media entrepreneur, is to become Editor-in-Chief of The Scientist magazine. Sarah brings 25 years’ experience and strong editorial, business and leadership skills to this high profile appointment, and an unparalleled depth of specialist knowledge in biology and medicine.

Sarah most recently cofounded and was Managing Editor at the Journal of Participatory Medicine, a revolutionary Open Access journal seeking to transform the culture of medicine. Her previous appointments include Director of Online Health at the New York Times, President of Praxis Press and founder and publisher of Current Protocols and HMS Beagle. Sarah takes over from Richard Gallagher at the helm of The Scientist. Richard described his seven years in the role as “enjoyable and fulfilling” and said it is “the best job in science publishing”. He is moving to head up a new Custom Publishing unit for The Scientist.

The Scientist, the leading professional magazine for life scientists, publishes reviews of hot papers, the latest information on research, technology updates and careers as well as profiles of scientists to watch. The Scientist also publishes the greatly anticipated “Best Places” survey series. Sarah’s new role will include strengthening The Scientist’s online presence and overseeing closer ties with Faculty of 1000, the popular and respected international post-publication peer review service.

Sarah said, “I am thrilled by the challenges and opportunities presented by this exciting new role. The Scientist is already a great magazine and I’m looking forward to working with the Faculty of 1000 team in London to make it even better.”

Vitek Tracz, Chairman of Science Navigation Group, said of Sarah, “I have worked closely with her on some of my most ambitious, difficult and important projects, and she is the one of the most inventive, intelligent, talented and inspiring people I know. We are delighted that she is joining us to run The Scientist.”

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Posted in f1000, Press Releases, The Scientist | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Sarah Greene to head up The Scientist

On the run—15Jan10

Posted by rpg on 15 January, 2010

A quick round-up of all that’s new and approved in the world of f1000. Or at least my corner of it.

M’learned colleague Steve P is in North Carolina today, hobnobbing with the geeks at Science Online 2010. I decided not to go because I’d done quite a bit of travelling just before Christmas (admittedly not as much as last year), and having had a bit of a nightmare November personally, frankly I thought could do without the hassle.

However, those of you who are disappointed at not seeing me (hah!) will get their chance at the London equivalent of Science Online, Solo10. Yup, following the success of Science Blogging 2008 and Solo09 (not to mention Fringe Frivolous), we’re doing it again this year! I know this because I met with the inestimable Lou Woodley earlier today, along with Matt Brown and the Mendeley guys (and Martin Fenner by Skype), to discuss dates and all sorts of necessary weevils.

The programme is of course a mere glimmer in the distant sky, but I can tell you we’re looking at a two day (Friday/Saturday) event, and there will be a large collaborative component (indeed, we reckon that we can devote the Saturday morning to an ad hoc unconference). So there’s plenty of scope for plenary and parallel sessions, and you should start thinking about what you’d like to do/see. Matt Brown is likely to be running some pre-conference pub-crawls events, and we’re hoping to have a fringe pre-conference again (although I’m making no promises about me and Flip cameras, one way or the other).

Keep an eye on the Science Online London website,  and I’ll let you know about hashtags and whatnot in due course.

While in Crinan Street I was able to meet with Ian Mulvany (the brains behind Connotea) and discuss a couple more projects. First, he showed me what’s in store for the users of Nature Network: we’re getting MT4! This is a long-anticipated improvement in the platform there, and has acquired something of a mythical status. But I saw it!—on the staging server, at least.

The second thing is a little more ephemeral. I’m not at liberty to say much about it, but wouldn’t it be cool if you read an article in your favourite journal, saw that it had been evaluated on f1000, and could make a comment? And that comment then appeared next to the evaluation on f1000? Or maybe you could read an evaluation on f1000 and see what people were saying about that paper all over the web, and join in the conversation?

Like Google Sidewiki, but done properly?


Other things that have happened this week include us sending test data to PubMed Central. You can draw your own conclusions from that little snippet of information.  I’ve also spent quite a bit of time writing and polishing a press release about Sarah Greene. More on that next week; it’s now time to take our Dev team to the pub, methinks.

Posted in Conferences, Friday afternoon, Meta, Random, Science | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on On the run—15Jan10