Faculty of 1000

Post-publication peer review

At the movies

Posted by rpg on 7 April, 2010

Busman’s Holiday

Faculty of 1000 published 1472 evaluations last month. This is a world record! And it should help you predict when we’re going to hit 90,000. Remember, we’re running a competition: simply twitter the date and time you think we’ll make 90,000 evaluations with the hashtag #F90K for a chance to win some F1000 goodies.

Easter Hollidays

Image: Richard Wheeler, Wikimedia Commons

Faculty member Fyodor Urnov wants to know if you remember the lecture on homologous recombination (HR) from your genetics class in college. I certainly remember tutorials, and seeing micrographs of Holliday Junctions for the first time. I was fascinated and not a little excited at actually seeing a physical representation of an incredibly important biological process.

Fyodor answers his own question,

For many people, sadly, the answer is “no, and not regretting it.” This is a shame — not only are we the products of HR that took place during gametogenesis in our parents but the repair of double-strand breaks (e.g. after a dental X-ray) keeps our genomes intact.

and recommends you read a recent paper in Nature showing that double Holliday junctions are indeed involved in repair of double-strand DNA breaks. He goes on to bang the drum for traditional biochemistry:

single-locus analysis continues to offer remarkable insight into biology, despite the ubiquity of massively parallel omics. A proper Southern blot — of which this paper has many — is a very, very powerful tool.

Roman Holiday

You probably saw that Nature Reviews suffered its first retraction across its stable recently. In an interesting case of intellectual plagiarism, Mariam Sticklen was accused of writing a paragraph that was “paraphrased without attribution”. This becomes interesting in that the principle of anonymous peer review has been challenged: Sticklen reviewed a paper and allegedly lifted the offending ‘thought’ directly from it. The editor of Plant Science, Jonathan Gressel, said
“When you have done something that’s way beyond the pale, you forfeit your anonymity as a reviewer,” and “I think Nature Reviews Genetics was nice to her in allowing her to say ‘paraphrase’.”

The full story by Bob Grant is available at The Scientist. I only mention it here, really, for the comment thread, in which we see both editors getting involved, as well as Sticklen herself and her ex-husband, who gives her a glowing character reference. If there’s any film makers out there who want to make a blockbuster about science, this has all the ingredients.

And finally

Trees are good for you. At least, if you’re an arboreal—i.e. tree-dwelling—mammal. But not a primate or marsupial. If you’re one of those (what are you doing reading this?), you

should have longer lifespan than terrestrial species of similar body mass, the rationale being that arboreality reduces the risk of predation by terrestrial predators.

As Douglas Adams once said, coming down from the trees was a bad idea.

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