Faculty of 1000

Post-publication peer review

Posts Tagged ‘Competition’

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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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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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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