Faculty of 1000

Post-publication peer review

Archive for the ‘Random’ Category

Think you knew librarians?

Posted by Callum Anderson on 15 April, 2010

Librarians can sometimes suffer unfairly from stereotypes. But footage like that below suggests there could be much more to your average librarian than might initially meet the eye.

I certainly wouldn’t like to be on the receiving end of a late fine from any of these warrior librarians!

See how long you can stifle your giggles. And rest assured in the knowledge that the book-cart-drill-team contest will be held again this year at the ALA annual conference.

Posted in Conferences, f1000, Random | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Last drinks

Posted by stevepog on 19 March, 2010

Richard has previously mentioned my imminent departure from f1000 and it’s come to the day where I pack up my desk, hand back the security pass and read my last free copy of The Scientist.

It’s been a great experience being involved in a forward-thinking project like f1000 and getting stuck into the social media side of PR (like it or loathe it, PR has a place amongst the Twitter, Youtube, Facebook generation)

But aside from meeting some brilliant people through Twitter (@scicheer, @tallscientist, @boraz, @sciencegoddess, @ritarubin to name a few), this humble blog is where most of the action has happened.

And so allow me to reflect back on some of the inspiring, thought-provoking or just plain amusing posts from my six months here.

Most recently, Callum’s post stirred up controversy on all sides with the Pubmed and PLoS discussion from a few days back, on a day where our usual daily hit count doubled due to the massive interest from the science community.

Richard’s weekly roundups have been getting a lot of interest as he, obviously, looks over the  week’s happening at f1000 and in the broader world of science.

His post on the Faraday Prize Lecture would have excited anyone with multiple passions into maths, music and science while the new competition on scientific mistakes, while not drawing the same enthusiastic responses as his #sci140 comp, has still been kicking along.

For my own part, the most enjoyable pieces I had the chance to write involved anything from the Great Garbage Patch to periodic table-chanting cheerleaders, how music can make us smarter and scientists with fantastic beards.

I’ll leave you with this shot of my Science Online companions and I at the Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina, which we visited during the SciOnline 2010 conference in January.

There’s some historic significance to this well that we are still unsure of but apparently it’s the place where freshmen kiss each other for luck. We declined to participate in the ritual (owing to being neither freshmen nor single) and instead opted for this memento.

It’s one of the good memories I’ll take away from my time at f1000, along with the all-too-regular Friday afternoon cakes and of course the dedication and enthusiasm of work colleagues towards making f1000 a quality database for post-publication peer-reviewed biology and medicine research.

I’m off to travel Europe for five months and then head home to Australia. Thanks to everyone for the support, keep reading the blog and, in the words of my friend Darlene, GO SCIENCE!

**PS I’m on Twitter at @stevepog for anyone wanting to keep in touch and my sports-focused blog is http://stevepog.blogspot.com

Posted in f1000, Friday afternoon, Random | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Last drinks

Is it a cancer drug or not?

Posted by stevepog on 16 March, 2010

The media faces constant criticism from medical specialists and  advocacy groups whenever it trumpets the latest new wonder drug to cure any form of cancer.

Many spurious claims have over the years been splashed across the UK Daily Mail’s front page, prompting backlash from organisations such as the National Health Service, Cancer Research UK and even the appearance of a Facebook group with more than 40,000 members criticising the Mail’s cancer cure/cause agenda.

But the recent news that pharma giant Roche was revising its position on Avastin after the drug failed in a late-stage study, evaluating the blockbuster as a treatment for advanced stomach cancer, was an example of where the stock market, media expectations of a miracle cure and a pharma giant collided.

The Wall Street Journal said the announcement had the effect of:

‘undermining market expectations the drug could reach annual peak sales of more than eight billion Swiss francs ($7.48 billion)’

Roche’s PR team has had the very difficult job of trying to push the share price back up and regain investors confidence. One of their newest stabs at this crisis communications was a release today stating that

‘the eyesight of two patients with a rare condition was saved through the groundbreaking use of the drug Avastin’

At the time of writing, the news is only 20 minutes old so and there is little detail contained on how many people have been involved in trials by Southampton ophthalmologist Dr Andrew Lotery, only to state that his research on treating Sorsby’s Fundus Dystrophy (SFD) has been accepted by US journal Retinal Cases & Brief Reports. The release goes on:

He (Lotery) said it was the first time the drug had been used to treat the rare genetic condition(SFD) which caused the two patients, both in their 30s, to suffer blurred vision and a general deterioration of sight.
Avastin halts the growth of blood vessels and stems bleeding and is commonly injected with good results into the eyes of patients with “wet” age related macular degeneration (AMD) – the leading cause of blindness in the western world in people over 50

Avastin has already been trialled successfully in conjunction with chemotherapy in ovarian cancer sufferers so the prospect of another potential target would be welcomed by the shareholders but more importantly, by sufferers of the targeted conditions. But this is a situation where the media needs to tread carefully and wait for stronger research to appear before latching onto another cure-all drug.

New antibiotic treatments for gastric cancer

On another cancer story, Yoshio Yamaoka, an F1000 Medicine faculty Member from Japan, has looked recently at the use of various drugs to treat Helicobacter pylori infection, which often leads to gastroduodenal ulcers, gastric cancer and associated diseases.

While there are positive signs from a large multicenter trial in Japan of H. pylori antibiotics on patients with gastric cancer, Yamaoka warned that practitioners should exercise caution with regard to widespread antibiotic treatment saying,

‘if all infected persons are to be treated, we should consider the increase in frequency of antibiotic resistance and unexpected consequences such as esophageal adenocarcinoma, asthma, and autoimmune disease’

Posted in Communication, f1000, FMs, Medicine, Random, Science | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Is it a cancer drug or not?

Hair apparent

Posted by stevepog on 8 March, 2010

beware of the bearded man bearing breadfruit

Sometimes there’s a real life-changing thrust to blog posts, that drives at the heart of a pivotal issue in modern society and make people question their motives, passions, opinions or even educational goals.

But seeing as we’re all coming down off a post-Oscars high, let me preempt your own judgement by rating this one as an Inglourious Basterds compared to the Hurt Locker of more worthy blog scribblings.

Actually, it’s really more of a Valkyrie than QT’s latest effort but then Tom Cruise never won any awards for his ability at copying accents (and it obviously wasn’t nominated for the 2010 awards so it’s less zeitgeisty).

Anyway, my point is to direct your eyes to the picture of the man on the left, much-respected Stanford neuroscientist and f1000 Faculty Member Robert Sapolsky.

With a beard that would make Hagrid feel ashamed, Sapolsky must be a delight as a lecturer. He’d also make a great magician with no need for a top hat either.

Sapolsky is a seasoned reviewer for f1000 and contributed a very positive review of a recent paper in Nature which discussed Prejudice and truth about the effect of testosterone on human bargaining behaviour. The crux of the paper was in a press release we put out today but the first emailed responses from journalists focused not on the weighty issues being discussed but of course, the accompanying photo above.

In one reporter’s words, it encouraged her to ask for more information on him as “I’ve been meaning to do somethign (sic) on weirdy beardies for a while”.

This is not the first time we’ve discussed hirsute scientists and our friend Joanne Manaster has a similar penchant (purely scientific) for bearded biologists. But it reinforces once again how much we should respect a scientist who sports this look: if he shows half as much commitment to research as to beard growth, a cancer/malaria/Xbox-related RSI cure is surely not far away.

*it’s ok, I cringed while writing the headline as much as you probably did reading it. To me it felt like the title for a bad 90s C-grade comedy starring a faded stand-up comic.

Then I did an IMDB search (I’m writing this in real-time, so the punchline could be a fizzer) and whaddya know?

It was closest in wording to a bad Canadian comedy flick , a 1912 black and white romantic drama and best of all, the ridiculously titled, Michael Flatley: Eire Apparent, about the most arrogant Irishman to ever pull on a pair of tights. Riverdance fans, I’ll meet you in the car park if you want to take issue with that assessment.

Posted in Communication, f1000, FMs, Journalism, Press Releases, Random, Science | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

When animal activists go too far

Posted by stevepog on 25 February, 2010

We have previously discussed the honorable activities of the Americans for Medical Progress (AMP) and its members, including Dario Ringach whose recent paper on animal activism was highly rated by our reviewers.

AMP send regular email updates to scientists and this item looked at an extremely important issue, so I am reproducing it here in full:


Five members of the Science Blogs community have posted strong commentaries today denouncing the activist targeting of a scientist’s child.

As background, UCLA professor Dario Ringach, one of the organizers and participants of last week’s panel discussion about animal research with AR adherents, and two of his colleagues had protests at their homes a few days in advance of the event. In an after-action communique about the protests, it was stated that activists knew where one of Dario’s children went to school and are planning to stage a protest there.

Janet Stemwedel, a panelist in the UCLA discussion, led the outcry on her widely-respected Adventures in Science and Ethics blog with a post entitled “Time to Get Mad. Time to Speak Up.”
(http://scienceblogs.com/ethicsandscience/2010/02/time_to_get_mad_time_to_speak.php ) Here is the thrust of her call to action:

“For just daring to stand up and share his view, Dario was targeted for more home demonstrations. And now, activists threaten to bring the demonstration to his children’s schools, to “educate fellow students what their classmate’s father does for a living”.

“Express the view that scientific research is worth doing, plan on your kids being harassed? Is that what we’ve come to? Is this really the society we want to live in?

“If it’s not, we need to stand up and say so, in no uncertain terms.

“Having differing opinions is not a crime. Nobody’s kids should be targeted for harassment because you disagree with their parents. We need to call this behavior out, no matter who does it, no matter what cause they hope to further with it.

“Each time these tactics are the ones that are used, we die a little as a pluralistic society, no matter which side we support. Any member of the public paying attention to such shenanigans should be outraged, and should say so.

“And members of the scientific community especially have reason to oppose these tactics. They reflect, after all, the impression that scientists aren’t really a part of our society, that they’re not really members of our moral community. You can bang on their windows and scare the crap out of their kids, and “normal” people won’t make a peep about it.

“Scientists are normal people, despite their specialized skills and interests. They need to see this bullying for what it is and raise their voices to reject it.

“Scientists, are you mad? Then stand up and say it.”

Four other prominent members of the Science Blogs community have already responded to her call, and other articles are likely to come in following days.   The Science Bloggers are:

PZMyers at Pharyngula:

Orac at Respectful Insolence:

Dr. Isis at On Becoming a Domestic as Laboratory Goddess:

Nick Anthis at The Scientific Activist:

(Please note that some of the posts link to animal rights websites.  If you wish to see what is connected to a specific link and are unwilling to visit activist sites, send us a note.)

How to respond to Dr. Stemwedel’s call to action?   A first step would be to participate in the lively discussion that is continuing in the comment sections of her blog and those of the other writers.  Also, sign the Pro-Test Petition if you have not already  – www.raisingvoices.net – and encourage your family, friends, colleagues and elected officials to do so as well. Consider becoming more involved in outreach about the research message, whether it is to schools or with adults in your community; we have a starter’s guide at www.amprogress.org/advocacy and would be delighted to send you materials and facilitate contacts with other research advocates in your area and with your interests.

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

On the run-12Feb10

Posted by rpg on 12 February, 2010

Cancer Causes Cancer!

Well, that was the headline we should have gone with. It is of course a hat tip to the Daily Mail, a tabloid publication that is desperate to tell the UK population that just about everything causes cancer. (I found that website by googling ‘cancer causes daily mail’, which is in itself quite a neat headline. Unfortunately I think we’re closer to curing cancer than curing the Daily Mail. Oh well.)

So, we know that tumours have this nasty habit of sending out malignant cells into the rest of the body. They break off from the primary site and get into the blood and lymphatic systems, occasionally washing up in convenient organs where they can settle down and create new tumours, or metastases. This is partly why cancer is so difficult to cure: you can cut out the original malignant growth, zap it with X-rays and take all sorts of evil drugs (‘evil’ because they are designed to kill cells, and you’re made up of cells; and discrimination between the cancer cells and normal cells is a huge problem); but if one metastatic cell survives, you have to start all over again. And if it’s managed to find a home deep in a bone, or the brain, or somewhere equally inaccessible, it’s game over.

It turns out things are even worse than that. Circulating tumour cells, if they find their way back to their original ‘home’, can actually stimulate growth of the original cancer. Nasty. As the authors say,

Tumor self-seeding could explain the relationships between anaplasia, tumor size, vascularity and prognosis, and local recurrence seeded by disseminated cells following ostensibly complete tumor excision.

‘Ostensibly complete tumor excision’—that’s right, because no matter how good your surgeon is, you can never be sure you’ve cut every last bit out; or that some cells haven’t already gone walkabout.

The good news is that certain cytokines derived from the tumour, IL-6 and IL-8, act to attract the circulating cells, and that they get back in via the matrix metalloproteinase collagenase I (MMP-1) and fascin-1 (it’s the actin cytoskeleton again! These guys get everywhere). If we can find a way to selectively block these pathways we should be able to start thinking about appropriate therapeutic approaches. Gentlemen (and ladies), start your (grant-writing) engines.

Kim, M., Oskarsson, T., Acharyya, S., Nguyen, D., Zhang, X., Norton, L., & Massagué, J. (2009). Tumor Self-Seeding by Circulating Cancer Cells Cell, 139 (7), 1315-1326 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.11.025

Twitter storm

It’s been pretty hectic on the twittertubes this week. Following a random conversation at the Scholarly Kitchen I suggested writing papers in 140 characters would be a wheeze. I turned it into a competition, and we had an amazing response. Check back on Monday to find out who’s the lucky winner of a bag of f1000 swag.

Badger Wars

vermin shooting verminI don’t have a lot to say about badger culling to prevent/reduce bovine TB (except maybe to say that killing vermin with a high-powered rifle and decent ‘scope is one of the most humane ways of doing this).

I just like the sound of a ‘randomized badger culling trial’. Oh, and when someone ‘explains’

This trial was undertaken in very specific circumstances and it could be misleading to extrapolate the findings to any future control program.

you can be pretty sure there’s a vested interest or extreme prejudice somewhere. Even when the trial shows that there’s no economic benefit.
Jenkins, H., Woodroffe, R., & Donnelly, C. (2010). The Duration of the Effects of Repeated Widespread Badger Culling on Cattle Tuberculosis Following the Cessation of Culling PLoS ONE, 5 (2) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009090

Valentine’s Day

Just a reminder to all you chaps out there—it can’t hurt to buy some flowers, even if you don’t want to buy into the whole commercialization thing. A nice dinner doesn’t cost you much either, and could pay dividends in the romance stakes. But at the very least, show you really care by getting checked out:

Take a test for #Valentine‘s Day. Sexual health appointments across Lincolnshire within 48 hours. Call 01522 539 145

It gets pretty lonely up there in Lincolnshire. Have a good weekend, and I hope it’s full of lovehearts and kisses. Failing that, a beer or three can have much the same effect.

Posted in Friday afternoon, Literature, Medicine, Random, Science | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

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

oh carolina, my spidey senses are tingling

Posted by stevepog on 12 January, 2010

Inspire or scare your grad students! Credit to zazzle.com for original button

Ah North Carolina, home to sweet potatoes, Krispy Kremes, Pepsi, the Wright brothers’ first flight, old-time music (whatever that is) and Venus Fly-Traps. And for four days in January, also home to the moderately sized gathering that is the Science Online 2010 conference.

Skim over the program here and try to contain your jealousy at the thought of all those techy web science people squeaking about how microbiology and microchips can join together in glorious harmony. My cynicism aside, it sounds like a great lineup – though if anyone dresses up in a Spiderman outfit to take the web/science mashup too far, I’ll head straight to the bar.

Closer to home, Richard’s discussion on author listings in scientific papers has generated some interesting debate, especially as one academic suggests cage fighting as a method to solve ordering issues. Brings to mind images of a Celebrity Deathmatch between Watson and Crick or Curie and McLaren. Could make the punters more interested than the usual war of words ever does.

*As for all the spidey talk, I did rewatch Spiderman 3 last night and, like Avatar, found it a bit too touchy-feely to be a great action film. Though being a long-time fan of Venom, his appearance made it ploughing through worth the glossy Hollywood coating. But I’ll save further movie analysis for another blog in another place.

Posted in Communication, Conferences, f1000, Random, Science | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

“What about the oceans?” Climate change reversal scheme has its doubters

Posted by stevepog on 16 December, 2009

With most of the science media, green movement and world leader attention focused on Copenhagen and climate change right now, it would be remiss of us not to mention a new evaluation which looks at one of numerous papers promising new ways to tackle the greenhouse effect.

The reviewer, Robie Macdonald, from the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Canada, looked at a paper in Geophysical Research Letters that discussed stratospheric geoengineering as a way to curtail greenhouse gas emissions.

MacDonald said:

This paper estimates the costs of putting sufficient aerosols into the stratosphere to slow down or reverse global warming. For possibly as little as several billions of dollars per year, one might cool the planet, stall or reverse ice melting, thwart sea-level rise, and increase the terrigenous sink for CO2 through enhanced primary production.

MacDonald quite rightly has issues with this proposed technique, as it may on one hand help produce planet-cooling sulfate aerosols but on the negative, as Ars technica also reported, “it would also produce more droughts and worsen ozone depletion. And, crucially, it would do nothing to reverse ocean acidification”.

In a time when the media is not quite sure which side of the climate change `debate’ to be on and newspapers are running unchecked stories which deny climate change exists, alongside comment pieces from an unqualified former vice-Presidential candidate (Sarah Palin) to anti-skeptics (George Monbiot), stratospheric geoengineering could take off as the next big thing in climate change reversal (if there could ever be such a beast).

*By the way, the suggested methods of using military aircraft and artillery shells to save the planet sound a little too Armageddon for my liking.

Posted in Communication, f1000, Journals, Random, Science | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Is it follow the leader, a heads-down mentality or something more obscure?

Posted by stevepog on 7 December, 2009

Reproduction of an artwork by Andrzej Krauze

Vitek Tracz, chairman of the Science Navigation Group (of which f1000 is a member), is a fan of compatriot Polish artist Andrzej Krauze, who is known for his humorous calendars and cartoons in the New York Times,  New Scientist and Sunday Telegraph.

Krauze amused our leader with this cartoon, which Vitek has had reproduced in the f1000 reception area for all to view as they enter.

Much speculation has already been thrown around about what it means: follow the leader, keep your head down, look beneath the surface, stick your head in the sand (bit obvious that one). The man in charge is keeping his view to himself. Any suggestions are welcome.

Posted in f1000, Random | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Is it follow the leader, a heads-down mentality or something more obscure?