Monday, April 20, 2009

B - APS copyright policy still no good

Landis, Geoffrey A. APS copyright policy still no good. APS News 2009;18(4):5.

Letter querying why the American Physical Society's "improved" copyright policy (ibid. 2009;18(2):8) still demands transfer of copyright on the grounds that "we must have this to continue to provide quality publication" when commercial publishers do not make such a demand.

Posted for John Glen

In memory of a transformative editor of NATURE

Sir John Maddox (or JM), as his colleagues used to refer to him, passed away on the 12th of April 2009. JM first took the reins as the editor of Nature in 1966, served till 1973 and returned in 1980 till November 1995. He was the journal fourth editor. It was during his first stint that he laid the foundations of Nature as it is today. He threw aside the highly informal system of selecting papers, established a system of peer review and a strong tradition of journalism in the journal. He had trained and researched as a physicist and was a virtuoso science writer, coming to Nature with substantial experience as a newspaper science correspondent. He established the "voice of Nature" in unsigned editorials, although his voice was often unmistakably his own. Many who knew him personally will remember a dry and incisive wit, along with a strong streak of human kindness and a perpetually restless, irresistible and unstoppable force.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

B - Past performance, peer review, and project selection

van den Besselaar P, Leydesdorff L. Past performance, peer review, and project selection: A case study in the social and behavioral sciences. Sigmetrics*. 2009

Do grant allocation decisions correlate with the past
performances of the applicants in terms of publications and citations? The findings of the Netherlands Research Council for the Economic and Social Sciences is successful in distinguishing grant applicants with above-average performance from those with below-average performance, but within the former group no correlation could be found between past performance and receiving a grant. When comparing the best performing researchers who were denied funding with the group of researchers who
received it, the rejected researchers significantly outperformed the funded
ones. Furthermore, the best rejected proposals score on average as high on the outcomes of the peer review process as the accepted proposals.

*SIGMETRICS is a listserv discussion group that covers bibliometrics, scientometrics and informetrics, but also metrics as related to the design and operation of Digital Libraries and other information systems interpreted broadly. It is a Virtual Special Interest Group of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

Posted for J. Hartley

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Being a Science Editor

It’s not a very common job if you’re a science graduate, but if you’re good at English and if you have a passion for the written word, maybe it’s a career that you would enjoy. Being a science editor or sub-editor may not be the most lucrative job in the world but it’s a place where you gain a vast amount of knowledge and have access to all the latest news in the world of science. If you’re wondering what it takes to make the cut when it comes to becoming a science editor, here are a few tips to help you along:

  • Understand science: It’s not possible to edit an article without understanding it first, so it’s not enough to just be good at English if you want to make it as a science editor. You need to have a thorough knowledge of the subject and also be capable of picking up and understanding new concepts when they’re presented to you in the form of an article.
  • Talk to your readers, not at them: A common mistake that most writers make is to overestimate or underestimate their readers’ intelligence. And when it comes to science, you can’t expect those with the scientific bent of mind to simplify things when they write; all they know is to talk in scientific terms. As a science editor, it’s your job to make the article more in tune with what your readers are likely to understand and enjoy.
  • Learn to identify the passive voice and convert it to its active form: Most scientists and researchers are used to writing in the passive voice, a habit that makes reading cumbersome. When editing a science article, you need to convert what’s written into the active voice so that it’s more readable and because it reduces the number of words and keeps the article more concise.
  • Get your facts straight: Accuracy is extremely important when you’re trying to edit an article that’s based on science. So you need to double check your spellings and information before you pass on the draft to be published. Also, you must remember to stick to the opinion and views of the author, not matter what your personal opinion is. It’s their article, not yours. You’re only the person who cuts, polishes and shapes the rough diamond into the sparkling final product, so ensure that you stay true to the original line of thought no matter how many changes (grammatical and spelling) you make.

This post was contributed by Courtney Phillips, who writes about the cheapest online schools. She welcomes your feedback at CourtneyPhillips80 at

Monday, April 06, 2009

N - Clarity is everything

If something is easy to read about, it seems easier to do. The simplicity or complexity with which a task is described affects our attitude towards the task itself and our willingness to do it. Psychologists gave college students information about exercise in either an easy to read font (Arial) or an unfamiliar "brushstroke" font; they found that those who read the instructions in Arial were subsequently more willing to make exercise a part of their day. Another way to introduce simplicity is to use simpler words and sentences. Commentators on the article in Scientific American Mind say that this points to the value of both clear textual presentation and graphic design (
Thanks to Margaret Cooter

Thursday, April 02, 2009

B - All data are not created equal

Neill Us. All data are not created equal. J Clin Invest 2009; 119: 424-4,


We continue to screen all figures from accepted manuscripts, and we continue to find irregularities. In several cases, the alterations in the figures led to the discovery of some fundamental problems with the data. Many of the papers suffered from the same problems, and this led us to consider whether it was time to revisit some experimental basics.