Faculty of 1000

Post-publication peer review

Archive for the ‘Competition’ Category


Posted by rpg on 19 April, 2010

One of the things I did as a student to supplement the meagre maintenance grant involved driving tractors around and tying up clematis. Not a wholly unpleasant time, to be honest, although it was the overtime that really made it worthwhile.

Then came the summer when I couldn’t get the gig at the plant nursery, and ended up jobbing for a gang (that’s a work gang, quite common in rural Lincolnshire) for six weeks. One of the things I had to do was clean the floor of a petfood factory (and believe me, if you ever see petfood being made you will never buy it again). That was pretty gross, but not as bad as the mate I was with, who had to handle the whole organs from slaughtered cattle before they went on the conveyor belt–complete with pulsating tumours and the like.

So, here at The Scientist we’re running a survey of pay in the Life Scientists. It’ll be published in November, and we’re giving away three US$100 Amazon gift certificates. (The survey is open to US-based employees only I’m afraid, but read on.) To—I’ll be honest—get a buzz going, I’m running another Twitter comp.

I reckon it’s unrealistic to remember what you got paid for vac jobs at college, so this time, I want you to tweet the grossest or funniest vacation job you ever had. The usual bag of F1000 swag to the winner. Use #vacjob for the hashtag, and have fun! And don’t forget to answer the survey, at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/H7XZ2MF.

Posted in Competition | Comments Off on Money

We will rock you

Posted by rpg on 31 March, 2010

Three’s a crowd

Who would have thought that plants could teach us about deafness? Or single-celled yeast about blood vessel development? Orthologous genes in different species can have totally different effects, and a statistical data-mining technique has thrown up not a few surprising models for human disease. The paper is free at PNAS and reviewed at Faculty of 1000. You can read more at The Scientist and Nature.

In another bizarre turn of events, it turns out that dilute biochemistry is all it’s cracked up to be. People have, over the years, ragged on biochemistry for dealing with dilute proteins and ignoring the ‘crowding’ effects of the cytoplasm (despite biochemical predictions often being borne out by in vivo work, but anyway). An outstanding computational paper looks at models of crowding in the bacterial cytoplasm, successfully simulating the relative thermodynamic stabilities of individual proteins:

But the overall take-home message seems to be that the effect of crowding by steric exclusion is largely cancelled by hydrophobic interactions with the crowders. Protein biochemistry in dilute solution has gained new respect.

The full paper, Diffusion, Crowding & Protein Stability in a Dynamic Molecular Model of the Bacterial Cytoplasm, is available from PLoS Computational Biology.

Got rhythm?

Another strange one, lurking in PNAS (Social Sciences/Psychological and Cognitive Sciences), suggests that humans are born to rock and roll:

One of the most curious effects of music is that it compels us to move in synchrony with its beat. This behavior, also referred to as entrainment, includes spontaneous or deliberate finger and foot tapping, head nodding, and body swaying.

Children under the age of two (and pre-verbal) spontaneously to music, but not speech.As Katrin Schulze, down the road at UCL says,

This suggests a predisposition in humans towards engaging rhythmically to a musical beat.


And finally

It’s competition time!

Faculty of 1000 is approaching the publication of 90,000 evaluations. This morning we had 89210 on the two sites, Biology and Medicine. We’ll be running a little internal compo for the people in the office, but we’d like to throw this open to all our Twitter followers and readers too. Use the hashtag #F90K to tell us the day you think we’ll make the 90 thousand. For a tie-breaker, feel free to put in the time, too (best use UTC. And here’s a clue: our editors work London office hours). Visit http://f1000biology.com/ and http://f1000medicine.com/ to help you with your guesswork.

As usual, a bag of F1000 swag for the winner. Good luck!

Posted in Competition, Weekly roundup | 1 Comment »

Scifubar-the winner

Posted by rpg on 22 March, 2010

Ever blown up the lab with dry ice? Run protein into blotting buffer or DNA into TBE? Have no fear, just about every practicing scientist in the world has done something equally daft.

But for a mistake that possibly, just possibly, says more about the supervisor than the victim, here’s a tweet from Alejandro Montenegro:

Undergrad said he couldn’t “paint” the black lines on the autoclave tape as good as his supervisor (he even bought a black marker)

For making me guffaw on a Monday morning, and bringing back a slightly uncomfortable memory of being new in a lab and wondering just what the hell was going on, Alejandro wins #scifubar! (And if you don’t know it already, check out his blog, ‘Molbio Research Highlights‘.)

Alejandro, drop me a line with your address and I’ll make sure a coveted bag of F1000 swag very shortly wings its way to Chile.

Posted in Competition | 5 Comments »

What’s your worst scientific mistake?

Posted by rpg on 18 March, 2010

Just a reminder that I’ve extended the deadline for our twitter #scifubar competition until Monday. Post your most embarrassing scientific error or egregious lab-based manipulation to Twitter with the #scifubar hashtag.

If you’re too shy to ‘fess up, pretend it was your labmate…

The winner gets a bag of F1000 swag, including the much-coveted laser-stylus-pen-torch thingy.

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On a new publishing model-the winner!

Posted by rpg on 16 February, 2010

Ladles and gentlespoons, the results are in. We had an amazing response, and after sifting through a mass of #sci140-tagged tweets, discarding all the retweets and publicity (and a huge thank-you to everyone who spread the word), we had 197 unique entries (grep saved my life).

Many of you posted very witty ‘historical’ paper summaries, but there were several who managed to squeeze their own papers into 140 133 characters too. This, I think, was far more difficult, even if it did not lend itself so readily to humour.

It turned out to be quite an interesting social experiment, too. There were a number of themes, possibly the most popular being the structure of DNA (not surprising seeing as most of my twitfriends are at least vaguely biochemical). This from @SelectAgent was one of the best:

Salt of DNA structure= double helix. Strands anti-parallel; has implications. (PS Rosie didn’t help)

Physics, especially quantum mechanics, also featured heavily, and @pssalgado deserves a special mention for

Where are you, Heis? “Don’t know exactly, but I can tell you how fast I’m going!”

Galileo was another favourite among physicists, @sciencebase almost scooping the prize with

Dropped heavy and light ball at Pisa; saw landed at same time. Peer review problems now, especially after telescope incident.

Many entries had fun with Mendel; here’s @marymulv:

Peas for tea. Again! (Damn that gardener.) Smooth, wrinkly, smooth… Is that a pattern? Hm. Should I tell that Darwin fellow??

Stanley Milgram was the subject of a couple of tweets, @sciencebase again making me laugh with

Stanley, is this circuit really 450 Volts, those people look like they’re in real pain? Shut up and just push the lever

Some of you are obviously budding behavioural psychologists, as Pavlov’s famous experiment also attracted a lot of attention? My favourite? @enniscath‘s

Rang bell, fed dogs. Rang bell again, dogs drooled. NO FOOD FOR YOU! BAD DOG! (heh heh. Stoopid dogs).

Honorable mentions should also go to silentypewriter and yokofakun for sheer wit and volume dedication.

But there can be only one winner, I’ve decided. For his poetic take on Watson & Crick’s structure of DNA, and for a smart paper of his own, the winner of the #sci140 competition is…

@CameronNeylon (Cameron Neylon)

The winning entries from Cameron are

Take bacterial cell wall chemistry. Replace proteins + wall with any prot + beads. Easy protein labelled beads! (link)


2 interwound helices, with handedness right, and a 3.4 pitch, and hydration just right + keto not enol or they don’t zip up right (link)

A bag full of f1000 goodies will be winging its way to him very shortly.

Mad props to Cameron, and a big thank you to everyone who participated. It was such good fun, I rather think we might run something like this again. Keep an eye on @f1000 on Twitter for the next one. The full list of #sci140 entries are below the fold.
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Posted in Competition, Friday afternoon | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

On a new publishing model-update 2

Posted by rpg on 11 February, 2010

And… here’s the next batch of #sci140 entries, since 10.40 today. If you think yours should be on the list, then please let me know (with the twitter URL if possible).

Keep ’em coming…

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On a new publishing model-update

Posted by rpg on 10 February, 2010


I created a twitter storm yesterday, as people leapt on the #sci140 meme like kangaroos. Thanks to everyone who picked up on it, RTed and entered. Some of you made me laugh out loud. Below the fold you’ll find all the entries as at 10.24 UTC today (I’ve spent much of the morning stripping out extraneous links, styling, RTs and dupes).

Meantime, David Bradley has extended the meme, using the hashtag #histsci140. That looks like fun too. He’s offering a book prize. I can’t compete with that I’m afraid, but I’m thinking of offering two swag bags for entries tagged with #sci140: one for the best ‘own research’ paper and one for the best summary of someone else’s, whether ‘historical’ or recent. The bag contains an F1000 mug, mints, light saber pen, magnifying glass, compass and the amazing F1000 combo laser pointer/pen/torch/stylus. And yes, enter in your native tongue, too. If I can translate it, it’ll be considered a valid entry!

There’ll be more updates during the week, and I’ll announce a winner on Monday. Good luck!
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F1000 celebrates our Nobel laureates

Posted by stevepog on 6 October, 2009

UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, left, and Elizabeth Blackburn. Photo by Susan Merrell

Photo by Susan Merrell

Elizabeth Blackburn – a member of the International Advisory Board for F1000 Biology – was awarded the Nobel Prize in the Physiology or Medicine category this week, joining a prestigious group of F1000 Nobel winners and nominees.

Professor Blackburn and colleagues received the honour in the Physiology or Medicine category this week for their work on the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase. The three winners – Blackburn, Carol Greider and Jack Szostak – have also had academic papers evaluated by F1000 Faculty Members.

Advisory board member Mike Bishop was awarded the prize  in 1989 for his team’s discovery of the cellular origin of retroviral oncogenes.

Other F1000 members to have received the prestigious award include Section Head for Chemical Biology, Roger Tsien (1998); Section Head for Chemistry, Tim Hunt (2001) and Faculty Member for Neuroscience, Erwin Neher (1991).

Posted in Competition, f1000 | Tagged: | Comments Off on F1000 celebrates our Nobel laureates

Where the streets have no name

Posted by rpg on 4 August, 2009

Alejandro brings my attention to ScienceWatch’s list of most-cited institutions in science.

This is the list of the ‘top’ twenty institutions out of just over four thousand. For some value of ‘top’, he says snarkily. Now, we know there are serious problems with citation metrics, but essentially it’s all we’ve got to go on, so it’s not a bad list.

The Most-Cited Institutions Overall, 1999-2009 (Thomson)

Rank Institution Citations Papers Citations
Per Paper
1 HARVARD UNIV 95,291 2,597,786 27.26
2 MAX PLANCK SOCIETY 69,373 1,366,087 19.69
3 JOHNS HOPKINS UNIV 54,022 1,222,166 22.62
4 UNIV WASHINGTON 54,198 1,147,283 21.17
5 STANFORD UNIV 48,846 1,138,795 23.31
6 UNIV CALIF LOS ANGELES 55,237 1,077,069 19.5
7 UNIV MICHIGAN 54,612 948,621 17.37
8 UNIV CALIF BERKELEY 46,984 945,817 20.13
9 UNIV CALIF SAN FRANCISCO 36,106 939,302 26.02
10 UNIV PENN 46,235 931,399 20.14
11 UNIV TOKYO 68,840 913,896 13.28
12 UNIV CALIF SAN DIEGO 40,789 899,832 22.06
13 UNIV TORONTO 55,163 861,243 15.61
14 UCL 46,882 860,117 18.35
15 COLUMBIA UNIV 43,302 858,073 19.82
16 YALE UNIV 36,857 833,467 22.61
17 MIT 35,247 832,439 23.62
18 UNIV CAMBRIDGE 43,017 811,673 18.87
19 UNIV OXFORD 40,494 766,577 18.93
20 UNIV WISCONSIN 50,016 760,091 15.2

Or is it?

Because as you know, we give the articles evaluated at F1000 a score. And it has not escaped our notice that once you start doing such a thing, you can start asking interesting questions. Admittedly we only look at biology and medicine (so far…), but according to this Excel spreadsheet I’ve just opened we have over five thousand unique institutions in our database. Hmm… I wonder if we might be doing anything with that?


And talking of authors I’d like to take this opportunity to shout out to my friend Åsa, whose recent work on inhibiting protein synthesis in secondary pneumonia was evaluated on F1000 Medicine (and who might one day get a nonymous blog cough).

Posted in Competition, Indicators, Journals | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »