Fraud fighters wanted in the Middle East

Scientific misconduct and research fraud are tolerated in the Middle East and North Africa region. What is the impact? How do we move forward?
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I recently interacted with a scholar from the American University of Sharjah (UAE). The person asked me to edit a draft research paper of his which needed “rephrasing and unifying.” Such a request is common with non-native English speakers before submission in a peer-reviewed journal.

Having agreed on fee and timeline, I edited and returned the paper. The scholar’s response was astounding: “when I checked your rephrased document on a plagiarism detection site, it indicated that 87% is copied…the aim is to reach 10% at most”. His expectation, as it turns out, was for me to rewrite the paper, concealing plagiarised chunks of text. Though I had noticed entire paragraphs in faultless English, I had assumed co-authorship, not academic theft. I responded that I was not to devote my time to “forging research papers.” As expected, payment never came through.

This all happened while news made the headlines of a miracle cure developed by the Egyptian army for HIV and hepatitis C. That ‘cure’ today remains in the anthology as ‘KoftaGate’. I felt the need to address this culture of unethical scientific behaviour.

Forgery, plagiarism and other plagues

Plagiarism is one of the most widespread manifestations of scientific misconduct: it happens everywhere. When misconduct occurs, the publication is generally retracted. An independent watchdog launched in August 2010, Retraction Watch, has become the go-to institution for remarkable work in this field.

In 2012, a close examination of more than 2,000 retracted biomedical and life-science research articles showed that two-thirds were removed because of proven or suspected misconduct. Plagiarism accounted for nearly 10 per cent of retractions. Fraud or suspected fraud, e.g. photoshopping images and “arranging data” to support one’s claims are other types of forgery. Last but not least, there are also scientists so fond of their work that they practice duplicate publishing.

Follow-up studies make it clear that misconduct can happen at any stage of a career, from the trainee to the senior researcher. Some blame the “publish or perish” rules that govern research. Others explain it by limited resources. If a lab does not have enough money to sustain its projects, then it might resort to crafting what is ‘necessary’ to publish the study and hope for better funding. Whatever the reason, however, lies and copy-paste habits are unethical and harm science as they influence research trends, waste public funds and can have a direct impact on people’s lives.

Misconduct also spans across all scientific domains. Some experts even believe that as much as 90 per cent “of all [archaeological] artefacts and coins sold on internet auctions as genuine are nothing but fakes.” Among antiquities forgery cases fall the largely overlooked traffic of real but stolen artefacts, a long-lived practice found to occur in many countries across the Middle East, including embattled Syria.

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Legal Challenges to Opening up Research Data in France

There are a lot of legal challenges to opening research data
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We at RS Strategy are strong supporters of open knowledge. Our founder is a trained scientist, thus opening up science and research are a soft spot for us.

We are thus happy to join a dedicated workgroup at the French National Institute for Agriculture Research (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, INRA) aiming to map the current legal framework of research data production and management. To our knowledge, this workgroup is the first of its kind at the institutional level in France. The group’s members wish to explore the legal challenges ahead of opening the Institute’s data. An expected outcome is a handbook for researchers to smoothen their journey towards Open Science Data.

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Love Your Data—And Let Others Love It, Too

Love your research data and let others love it, too
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[Lire en français]

The Projects initiative is a Digital Science endeavour. Projects is a desktop app that allows you to comprehensively organise and manage data you produce as research projects progress. The rationale behind Projects is that scientific data needs to be properly managed and preserved if we want it to be perennial. There’s indeed a worrisome trend showcasing that every year, the amount of research data being generated increases by 30%, and yet a massive 80% of scientific data is lost within two decades.

Projects and open science data-sharing platform figshare published an impressive and pretty telling infographic on science data preservation and chronic mismanagement [scroll down to see it]. What struck me looking at these numbers is neither the high-throughput data production nor the overall funds it requires – 1,5 trillion USD spent on R&D! – but the little to no information on public policies aimed at solving the problem.

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Gendered Quantified Self: Privacy Meets Tech Meets Health

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Last month, I spoke at FLOSSIE 2013. My talk addressed gendered quantified self and the challenges we face when our sensitive data are massively tracked and collected by a wide range of entities. Above all, this discussion matters in times of generalised surveillance.

“FLOSSIE brings together FLOSS women developers, entrepreneurs, researchers and policy-makers, digital artists and social innovators for an exciting mix of talks, spontaneous discussions and open workshops. Flossie 2013 brings the benefits of open thinking to artist and entrepreneurs and the insights of diverse innovators to FLOSS development.”

Unfortunately, FLOSSIE did not have video/audio recording available. But I am sharing my slides below. Indeed, reflections on the topic are scarce. Besides, many people have explicitly asked me to make these slides meatier, I’ll be writing my thoughts shortly. Stay tuned 🙂

Science, ‘whores’ and dissent

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First published as an op-ed at Al-Jazeera English.

Privately owned publications and governments threaten to cut to the bone of intellectual freedom in science.

Last Friday, popular science magazine Scientific American (SciAm) removed a blog post by a black female scientist and blogger discussing a recent professional exchange and the issue of integrity.

The incident – which SciAm justified by claiming that her article was not “scientific enough” – highlights the insidious forms of censorship in the science and research worlds.

So what exactly happened? Danielle Lee, a scientist and blogger at SciAm-hosted blog Urban Scientist, had been approached by a staff member of Biology-Online.org – referred to as “Ofek” – to contribute an article. When Lee asked for compensation details and learned she’d be writing for free, she kindly turned down the offer. In response, Ofek called her a “whore”. Consequently, Lee wrote a post on her SciAm-hosted blog addressing integrity and misconduct in science. Shortly afterwards, the post was removed without any explanation or prior notice.

Following SciAm’s seemingly arbitrary decision, a few scientists and bloggers started drawing attention to this bizarre development. Some noticed that Biology Online is SciAm’s partner; others (including yours truly) re-blogged the original post so everyone could read it. SciAm started getting a lot of heat. Pressing questions and critical debate followed, but SciAm’s editor-in-chief Mariette di Christina responded with two magnanimous tweets. The first one explained that pulling the post down is due to insufficient scientific content; the second one claimed the partnership between SciAm and Biology Online has nothing to do with the removal.

So on the face of it, a woman is called a “whore” in a professional setting, and then denied a voice in this environment to discuss her (mis)treatment. Uh oh, SciAm. I saw the regular blame-the-victim rhetoric on Twitter, too.

But wait: This isn’t the first time SciAm has removed content on the basis of “not [being] ‘sciencey’ enough”. Back in August 2013, the MIND Guest Blog published a post on sexual harassment female scientists encountered at work. The post was removed. At that time, Karen Stollznow, a prominent linguist, wrote about years of harassment escalating in job-related retaliation and even physical assault. SciAm removed her guest post (that is, content published after editor’s approval) without prior notice. When she asked about the rationale, it emerged that Stollznow’s employer involved their legal department in the matter, and in doing so potentially intimidated SciAm into action.

Let’s say, SciAm got swamped under a sudden wave of timidity. But have a look at a Slate editor’s note on a piece entitled “Skepticism and Secularism Have a Serious Sexual Harassment Problem”, describing Stollznow’s experience. The piece, available thanks to the WebArchive, tells of traumatising stalking and aggression by a fellow male scientist that began in 2009. Apparently, such an account “did not meet [Slate‘s] standards for verification and fairness, and we have taken it down”, says the editor’s note. Really, Slate?

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Scientific American screws it up big time, or censorship in science

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UPDATE: To sum up the story and highlight SciAm’s (lack of) reaction, I wrote this for Medium.

Earlier today, I spotted Dr. Isis’s #batsignal about @DNLee5’s delirious encounter with biology-online.org editor. DNLee is a biologist who was called a “whore” by Biology Online editor who asked her to blog for free, a gig she kindly refused. Later on, DNLee5 wrote a response over on her blog hosted by Scientific American, but the post was pulled down. According to Dr. Isis, DNLee’s happy to have the original post reproduced, so here it is below, with the original images and screenshots that I hosted here (they linked to SciAm’s servers, but since SciAm removed the post, they may as well remove the pics, too, for the sake of consistency, of course.).

Here also a link to the Storify I curated gathering quite a few outrageous reactions. And — more and more disappointingly — the deafening silence SciAm crew is being burying itself in.

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Nature Middle East’s weekly science dose (Oct 4 — Oct 10)

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Have you heard of reptiles that swim? Such animals used to exist back in the Late Cretaceous period (that is, 98–66 million years ago). Mosasaurs were discovered back in 1764; it quickly became clear that they were marine predators, but the debate still continues on how exactly they swam. A part of the scientific community argues they moved like snakes. Bringing robust analysis and proofs, a recent study demonstrates that Mosasaurs were skilled swimmers, achieving swim speed comparable to sharks.

On a different and more to-the-ground note, researchers have identified a better curative approach for acute leukaemia. The latter is the blood cancer that claims hundreds of lives every year. A comparison between more than 1,000 samples revealed that a drug treatment gives much better remission results. It thus improves survival rates than total body irradiation.

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[Announcement] OKCon Open & Citizen Science hackday: submissions

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I’ve already announced the OKCon ‘Open & Citizen Science satellite event’. As you may remember, we launched idea submissions several days ago. The detailed descriptions are below. You can vote for your favourite one and join us geeking out next Thursday, Sept 19. Don’t hesitate to get back to us either via Twitter (@MaliciaRogue, @stefankasberger) or via mail.

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[Announcement] Open and Citizen Science in the heart of Europe

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Stefan Kasberger from OKFn Austria and myself are organizing this one-day workshop as an OKCon satellite event. Join us!

Thursday 19 September, 10:00 – 17:00 @ Centre Universitaire d’Informatique Université de Genève, Auditorium, Ground Floor

Coordinators: Stefan Kasberger (Open Knowledge Foundation Austria) and Rayna Stamboliyska (Open Knowledge Foundation France), in collaboration with Daniel Lombraña González (Citizen Cyberscience Center / Citizen CyberlabFrançois Grey (Citizen Cyberscience Center / University of Geneva), Margaret Gold/ Brian Fuchs (Citizen Cyberlab The Mobile Collective)

Hacking science makes us happy. If it makes you happy, too, then, this year’s Open Knowledge Conference is the place to be!

Indeed, OKCon 2013 is where an amazing bouquet of insights from Open and Citizen science will converge. But if you thought there would be only food for the brain, you were wrong. A satellite event will take place on 19 September aiming at giving space for everyone to actually get great things done.

With our friends Daniel Lombraña González (Citizen Cyberscience Center / Citizen Cyberlab) François Grey (Citizen Cyberscience Center / University of Geneva), Margaret Gold/ Brian Fuchs (Citizen Cyberlab The Mobile Collective), we have come up with a way allowing everyone to take part to this exciting day.

I have an idea!

We know you do. Hence, we have a dedicated form ready for you to submit a short description of what you are keen to work on. You can also indicate what additional competences you need in order to get your project done.

Idea submission will be running from today until 10 September. Every week, we will be updating everyone (through the Open Science mailing list) telling you about the new ideas submitted. In addition, a community call will be scheduled to discuss and narrow down these ideas so that they actually become feasible within one-day long hands-on sprint.

Working together

The idea of the satellite event is to geek out together. On 11 September, we will be publishing a poll with all ideas so that you can be able to vote for the project you want to work on on Day D. Voting will run until 18 September.

Do not forget to bring your favourite geeking gear (laptop, some flavour of mobile device or a fancy notebook in the perfect 1.0 fashion). We will have WiFi, cookies and fun!

The workshop space can accommodate up to 45 people. To sign-up, express your interest in the topic and get in touch with the coordinators please write to openandcitizenscience@okcon.org.

Losing Egyptian heritage: losing tidbits of humankind history

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[This was originally published on Nature Middle East.]

As political unrest continues in Egypt, thieves have attacked a museum in the country’s south, stealing or burning evidence of thousands of years of history.

While Egypt focused on violent outbreaks in the rest of the country, raiders broke into the halls of the Malawi National Museum and ransacked its collections on two consecutive nights, stealing or destroying almost all of its artefacts.

The museum, 300 Km sound of Cairo in the Upper Egypt city of Minya, is a little-known cultural centre, but is home to a rich and diverse collection that spans Egyptian history from Greco-Roman to the 18th Dynasty eras. Many of the antiquities housed in the museum date back to the eras of the pharaoh Akhenaten and Nefertiti; some are animal mummies and statues dedicated to the worship of the Egyptian god Thoth, a deity represented with the head of an ibis.

Looters are widely believed to be supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. But Monica Hanna, an Egyptian archaeologist at Humboldt University of Berlin, closely following the events, blamed the looting on “people’s greed under political and religious cover.”

Archaeologists and museum workers have started to identify and list the stolen objects, believed to number around 1,040. According to preliminary evaluations, 1040 of the 1089 artefacts that the museum housed have so far been reported missing. The Facebook page “Egypt’s Heritage Task Force”, launched by Hanna in June in response to a growing number of thefts from Egyptian heritage sites, has an updated album of images of the stolen items.

“All small pieces of the Malawi museum are completely looted, and all of them are from the Amarna Period,” says Hanna. The Amarna Period art is distinctive from more conventional Egyptian art styles, with artists of the era opting for a more relaxed, realistic portrayal than the traditional stylized and rigid formality of previous dynasties.

According to reports, in the second raid, the museum was set alight and objects not stolen on the first night were badly burnt. Objects too heavy to carry out of the museum, such as wooden and stone sarcophagi, have been severely damaged. “Two mummies were burnt down, but fortunately two others could be saved as well as a huge number of fragments,” says Hanna.

Yesterday, curators from the Malawi National Museum confirmed that five painted wooden sarcophagi, two mummies and a papyrus handwritten in Demotic, as well as a collection of broken ancient statues, have been sent for restoration.

Once archaeologists complete the investigations and finalize a list of stolen objects, it will be distributed to all Egyptian ports to thwart any smuggling attempts. All missing artefacts will be put on UNESCO’s red list to avoid being smuggled and sold on the international antiquities market. “Egypt’s Heritage Task Force contacted INTERPOL immediately, independently of the Ministry of Antiquities, and alerted the International Council of Museums and the International Committee for Egyptology,” adds Hanna.

The Ministry of Antiquities also announced a campaign to retrieve stolen objects, offering compensation for those who will return the artefacts. The al-Ashmounein storehouse near the museum is receiving the returned antiquities, but so far, only two objects have been returned, according to Hanna.

Vandalism of museums is frequently reported in times of major political disturbances. Additionally, looting of Egyptian archaeological sites has been on the rise as the black market for antiquities grows.

Thoughts on Open Innovation: The Rebirth of the Citizen Scientist

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This is the section in a chapter I co-wrote and edited with friends from the Open Science group of the Open Knowledge Foundation. The chapter is part of the insightful discussion that the Open Forum Academy (OFA) initiated earlier this year, and I am very glad to have been part of it. The chapter, entitled “Bottom-Up Creation of Open Scientific Knowledge”, is part of OFA’s second book, “Thoughts on Open Innovation”. Enjoy the read!

🎧 Listen to this post:

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University of Geneva hosts Citizen Cyberscience on PLoS Blogs ‘CitizenSci’

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Citizen Cyberscience was at the honour at the University of Geneva on April 22-23, 2013. I wrote a brief sum-up on it for PLoS Blogs ‘Citizen Science’.

A short time ago, I attended a two-day Citizen Cyberscience workshop at the University of Geneva. As much as the USA and the UK are happy having a vibrant community of citizen scientists, such initiatives in many other European countries are still stuttering. A dedicated workshop in one such country was thus even more exciting. I was there not only because of my interest in the topic but also on behalf of my current position within the EU-funded Citizen Cyberlab’s Synthetic Biology section.

The goal of the workshop was both to get everyone updated on the latest developments of tools for actual citizen science doing and “to work in teams to design and implement a first prototype of a citizen cyberscience project”. The first day was dedicated to talks, and the second day – to hands-on activities. As I recently launched the ‘Open & Citizen Science’ workgroup at the Open Knowledge Foundation France, I am pretty much interested into concrete tools I can use to get people involved into actual projects. Thus, there were two talks of special interest for me: the presentations of Epicollect and Crowdcrafting.

[read more on PLoS Blogs]
[View the story “#CitizenCyberscience workshop in Geneva” on Storify]

Living on Mars

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[This op-ed was first published on Al-Jazeera English.]

“Touchdown confirmed. We are safe on Mars.”

It has been nearly nine months now that the Curiosity Rover touched down on Mars. Do not be fooled by its cockamamie drawing penchant: the Rover has identified traces of calcium (often associated with water), and a stream bed. Around Christmas 2012, the NASA team winnowed down rich in clay mudstone containing small amounts of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorus – the building blocks of life. The dizzying amount of data Curiosity has been sending is by all accounts changing our perceptions and the possibilities we envision.

The Curiosity Rover’s startling wander on Mars has energised burgeoning – and often private – space tourism endeavours. US millionaire Dennis Tito for instance thinks going to Mars is so simple that it just might work. His Inspiration Mars programme launched back in February 2013 aims at sending a couple of humans on a journey on January 5, 2018, as Mars and the Earth would align on this day which enables a no-fuss trajectory. They will return 501 days later having flown by, but not landed on, Mars. Albeit still scant details about the five-year development plan, NASA hailed “the adventurous spirit of […] citizen explorers”.

Bold minds have come up with Mars One, a non-profit/for-profit hybrid plan to send people settle a colony on Mars. Living on Mars thus does not seem to be a nut job any more. Mars Onewill train people – no specific skills required – for eight years prior to sending them in such a mission. Going to Mars seems within reach, and we are planning to send people to live there. The question is thus not when but how: how do you live on Mars?

The NASA does many things well, and the reason why is because it buries every problem in experts. Recently, the NASA used a crowd-sourced approach to better prepare the Mars Exploration Program. The NASA Space Apps Challenges make no exception: during a two-day (April 20-21) event held simultaneously in multiple cities across the world, experts from all backgrounds gathered to address a total of 50 challenges. These ranged from software to hardware and visualisation challenges, including robotics and citizen science platforms. Paris – where I live – also participated, and I was invited to lead the “Citizen Science” section.

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#aMomentaryLapseOfReason + #GeekyTreasures on Twitter

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After some thinking and web crawling, I decided to launch these two hashtags on Twitter: #aMomentaryLapseOfReason and #GeekyTreasures.

Why? Well, because I do curate stuff anyway. The thing is that I tweet about so many different things that all the geeky, funny, weird, creative things can easily go unnoticed. Hence these two hashtags.

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Retraction Watch suffers DMCA bugs*

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*Ok, trolling away, DMCA itself is a bug.

The background: Retraction Watch is one of the must-follow resources on the web for anyone who is interested in scientific publishing. The blog, maintained and nurtured by Ivan Oransky (Reuters health editor) and Adam Marcus (science journalist and managing editor of Anesthesiology News), is the place for keeping abreast of retractions and corrections in scientific and medical journals. Recently, the blog editors woke up to find out that 10 of the posts have been taken down.

What happened? Apparently, some firm from India copied these 10 posts — relating to Anil Potti, a cancer researcher whose career is imploding as 19 of his papers were already retracted, — then claimed them and filed a DMCA takedown notice. Consequently, the posts were pulled off by WordPress from Retraction Watch… and haven’t been restored thus far.

#ArsenicLife reviews leaked

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You certainly remember the allegedly revolutionary discovery of a bacterium using arsenic instead of phosphate to build its nucleic acids. Arsenic is a poison, and phosphate is mandatory for life. Thus, this alien, “the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic” as presented during the NASA HQs press conference, was supposed to be an alien constituting a paradigm shift, etc. — you remember the hype. The alien that wasn’t one as I already summed up critics shortly after the paper was published (ici en français). The story received an incredible media coverage as well as a huge number of comments from other fellow scientists. A few months after the paper was published in Science, follow-up studies revealed the bacterium does require phosphate — even though in small amounts — to be able to grow and sustain life.
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Science blogging in the Arab world (or the lack thereof)

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This was first posted at Nature Middle East blog ‘House of Wisdom’.

When I started browsing the web for science blogs from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, I didn’t think it would be such an adventure. And for a quest, it was one.

I thus started entering keywords in the search engine. The outcome was disappointing: one or two blogs in English popped up. I thought it is because I was only searching in English, but French and Arabic searches did not harbour significantly more results. When I asked friends to point me out my wrongdoing, they just laughed and the comment invariably was: “dear, spare your efforts, there is no such thing like science blogging in the region.”

The blogging culture in the Arab world thus seems to mainly touch opinionated people with a say in politics and economy. There is nothing wrong with this. I’ll spare you a lecture on the importance of social media for changing the society we live in, this has been thoroughly discussed elsewhere. Loads of bits and ink have also been spilled to demonstrate the importance of science blogging. Given the paucity of science blogs in the Arab World, I guess a reminder is more than useful.

Why writing about science? Reason #1: scientists get to speak directly to the public. Reason #2: lay scientists or enthusiasts engage and keep up to date with developments in various scientific fields. Reason #3: open discussions on research topics are promoted among peers.

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How do we make DIYBio sustainable?

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At December 13th’s SoNYC discussion, hosted by Nature Publishing Group (NPG), a panel will discuss the growth of DIY science, describing some of the opportunities it presents and looking towards the future. The conversation will cover the challenges faced by DIY science enthusiasts, such as safety and accurate data collection, as well as the ways to deal with these concerns within an online world of support. In the build up to this event, the folks at NPG are publishing a mini-series of guest posts from DIY science tinkerers, amateur astronomers, enablers, as well as educators interested in this field. Follow the online chatter using the #DIYSci hashtag and feel free to share your own experiences.

This post is cross-posted on the SpotOn blog and published on SciLogs.com’s ‘Beyond the Lab’.

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Life performs computation much more than you’ve ever thought

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This post was first published on SciLogs.com ‘Beyond the Lab’

“The level of intelligence has been tremendously increased, because people are thinking and communicating in terms of screens, and not in lettered books. Much of the real action is taking place in what is called cyberspace. People have learned how to boot up, activate, and transmit their brains.

Essentially, there’s a universe inside your brain. The number of connections possible inside your brain is limitless. And as people have learned to have more managerial and direct creative access to their brains, they have also developed matrices or networks of people that communicate electronically. There are direct brain/computer link-ups. You can just jack yourself in and pilot your brain around in cyberspace-electronic space.” ― Timothy Leary, Chaos & Cyber Culture

This quote brings up thoroughly discussed concepts of “wired human interactions” and “globalized self,” all describing our relationship to the internet. The quote also highlights another perspective: the ultimate connection as showcased in cyberpunk culture through the “console cowboy” Case in the Neuromancer or the “game pods”, these outlets plugged through bio-ports in Cronenberg’s movie, Existenz. But if this sounded as daring science fiction 10 years ago, achieving this ‘ultimate connection’ now looks feasible in the near future. Research unveiling the hidden potential of DNA in terms of molecular computation has been ongoing for years, and its outcomes are more promising and mind-blowing than one might have imagined. I kindly invite you to join me in a dive into the exciting waters of DNA-based computers.
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No to Cuts: Secure EU Budget for Science

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[En français]

Since yesterday (22 November), the European Union holds a very important meeting: EU heads of states decide upon member states budgets. Naturally, EU budget for research is discussed during this meeting, and its amount for the next seven years is determined (re HORIZON 2020, the follow-up of FP7). Researchers have mobilized to have their voices heard as the European Commission proposes the minimal amount of 80 billion euros for HORIZON 2020 budget, opposing the 100 billion euros suggested by the European Parliament. As the initiative No Cuts on Research highlights it, “for the European Research Council (ERC) that means annual increases of about 6% which is just enough to allow the ERC to consolidate its funding activity and its mission to support European leadership in world class research. It will not be sufficient, though, to launch any new activities.” Fears persist, however, that these 80 billion euros melt down to much less.

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Bacon Fans United: The Pig Genome Sequenced

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This was initially published on Australian Science.

Breeding healthier and meatier piggies has been one of the many scientific challenges of the past decades; creating more reliable models to study human diseases is another. The swine disease model is indeed much better to use when studying human disorders than the (thus far) widely used murine models. Although pigs reproduce slower than mice and are more expensive to take care of, they are more similar to humans when it comes to anatomy and physiology. These common grounds have allowed the development of accurate swine models for diabetes, cystic fibrosis or retinitis pigmentosa (a cause of blindness). In its issue of 15 November, Nature published the fully sequenced and annotated pig genome. This is a major achievement, and will allow considerable progress to be made on both the yummy and the healthy fronts.

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Egypt: In Knowledge We Trust

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[This op-ed was first published on FutureChallenges.org.]

Loads of bits and gallons of ink have been spilled over the Arab Spring, the advent of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Arab Winter, etc. Yet not much attention has been paid to education although it all boils down to education, as the general idea goes.

Education is igniting a brain to find and make its own knowledge. Image adapted by the author  (CC-by 2.0)

Education is igniting a brain to find and make its own knowledge. Image adapted by the author (CC-by 2.0)

Of course, you can assume I am just a regular westerner in her late twenties with a secure well-paid job just bashing around behind a mask of self-attributed cheeky maturity. You do have the right to be wrong all along the line. So, before someone starts asking what this rant has to do with education and Arab revolutions, let me put it plainly: a revolution is not only about politics, but also about how we produce our rulers.

I think we should avoid confiding our future to a school of mentally disturbed teachers. In other words, we need to rebuild education and focus the whole process on acquiring the ability to learn and unlearn. People are knowledgeable at any level of their lives, so teaching them what to think rather than how to think is a slap in the face.

Implementation of such an idea is, however, extremely complex and requires more than a little political goodwill. As a recent Guide to Egypt’s Challenges has starkly stated, illiteracy and drop-outs rates are critical — but even more alarming is the quality of education which is unadapted to employment and business markets. In Egypt, 15% of the population falls in the 15-24 age group [pdf] and makes up 30% of the working-age population. Yet this group also suffers the highest unemployment rate: yes, rebuilding education is vital. A committee of experts was established at the dawn of the revolution with the task of defining a fresh curriculum. With all due respect, how do you intend to rejuvenate old-fashioned programs by putting dusty minds to work? This is not a rhetorical question, but let’s proceed.

This committee suggested various changes such as encouraging use of computers in schools and investing more in science and research. A thoughtful article published in 2004 discussed Egypt’s “academic entrepreneurs” and the exciting array of initiatives to promote biotech research in the region. Back then, the hype was already strong for the Nile University, the very first non-profit private research university in the country and the region, “the kind of eye-catching initiative that Egypt’s government hopes will help it close the gap on countries with a more advanced R&D infrastructure”.

Nile University opened its doors in 2006. And the hype was not in vain: its rich applied research curriculum attracted many highly qualified students and professors and soon collaborations with foreign institutions blossomed. In June 2011, the first post-revolution budget was approved, and science was allocated a stunning 0.4% of GDP … Oh well, I am just badmouthing again: 0.4% of GDP is what fabulous scientific achievers like the Slovak Republic and Argentina spend, while Saudi Arabia invests a mere 0.1%. Irony aside, this was the double the funding in 2010, and the plan was to reach 2% of the GDP in 2015, which is ambitious but positive.

I support Nile University. Image by oskay on Flickr (CC-by 2.0)

I support Nile University. Image by oskay on Flickr (CC-by 2.0)

Interestingly enough, bolstering Egypt’s science and research includes the dismantlement of Nile University, Egypt’s research jewel. After the revolution, many of the Mubarak-era decisions were overruled, and in 2011 the government reassigned Nile University’s lands and buildings to the Zewail City of Science and Technology, a veritable monster of pristine glass and steel.

Since then, it’s been dog eat dog. Nile University researchers were forced to quit their labs and rent other facilities, if available, elsewhere to work for a few hours. Although Zewail claims a deal to merge the two is in the making, there is no guarantee that Nile University will remain independent as it wants to. A lawsuit has been filed, negotiations engaged, and even a government offer was made to compensate Nile University for all its outlay in equipping the labs. But what do you want to do with this money with no place to invest it in?

Students elsewhere resume class, but those enrolled in Nile University are still banned from their alma mater by Zewail. On August 28, around 60 students and their professors staged a sit-in to protest the ban on using any of the buildings on campus. Meanwhile, a committee – yes, this is one of Egypt’s fortes – has been formed to address the crisis brewing between a megalomaniac science entity with no staff, no departments, and no curricula on the one hand and a bunch of insolent disobedient youngsters on the other, impertinent enough to want to acquire knowledge in the right conditions.

Images: “Brain Injection” original and the heart sourced here (both CC-by 2.0)

The Genetic Fatality of What You Are

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This morning while checking my Twitter feed, I stumbled upon a tweet on the “internet addiction gene”. My reaction was: “Have pity. Please”. Thankfully, some people have had spare time to write and dismiss such a scientific breakthrough. It is perhaps a question of timing — all the very recent hysteria about how ENCODE unveiled the indispensability of “junk DNA” just got a bit on my nerves. I’ve written about this elsewhere, so would prefer to skip it here and focus on the ultimate honour for people like me (i.e., geneticists): identifying “the gene of [insert some word here]”.

Actually, I’m pretty committed to do all my best and discover no “gene of”. Before coming to the concrete reasons why, let me list the top ranking “gene of” below.

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Women in Science: Why So Few?

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[This piece was first published on FutureChallenges.org.]

When a  few years ago I first got interested in this topic, I obsessively read all I could about it. The oldest paper I found at that time was from 1965 and bore the title: “Women in Science: Why So Few?” Yes, it’s the same as the title of the current posting and no, this is not a simple coincidence: women are thin on the ground in science and technology.

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Coming back to life

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Brain Bookshelf. Image from dokumaciorumcek

Brain Bookshelf. Image from dokumaciorumcek

It’s been quite some time I haven’t written anything. This has an explanation. Well, actually, many explanations 🙂 I started writing for other media — such as Global Voices Advocacy and Global Voices Online. Also, since I am coming closer and closer to the end of my PhD, I don’t have that much time to read any paper that comes around and tickles my curiosity. Which is frustrating.

Well, to a certain extent, in fact. The good news is that with some fellow geeks, we started the very first French-speaking crowd-sourced blog about bioinformatics. It all happens here. Yours truly is among the nasty people who require that there are no spelling errors, who require modifications of the content cuz it is better this way and not that way, and who ravages poor authors with licenses… 🙂 Well, yeah, this is what the editor’s job is about.

Cuz editor’s never enough and writing is a burning passion, I also write for the blog. Thus, I have my monthly column: Journal Club. Oh, how astonishing, huh: it is nothing else but science blogging about what is new in bioinformatics 🙂

Screenshot Bioinfo-fr

Screenshot Bioinfo-fr

So, I said “crowd-sourced blog”. Actually, we are quite a few enthusiasts, everyone coming along with a different expertise. Amongst us, there are not only research engineers in bioinformatics, but also PhDs, post-docs and even full-time researchers. We thus talk about many things: from discovering a particular domain to a description of a graduate program on bioinformatics through feedback from various conferences and various practical tips making your everyday scripting easier 🙂

Honestly? It is time-consuming, sometimes you feel like you become Hannibal Lecter… but it is finally so much fun. Getting to know people, their backgrounds and helping them to improve writing and expressing themselves is really a great experience. I’m sure you are particularly envious if you happen to be French-impaired… 😉

Alongside, I recently became the editor for the newest chapter of Global Voices, namely Global Voices Bulgarian. This is a rather different incentive when compared with bioinformatics, for sure. But this is another type of accessing the world and its never-ending evolution.

Screenshot GV Bulgarian

Screenshot GV Bulgarian

So far, we are a very small team, but we believe this will improve over time. My interest here is getting the way citizen media makes the world to Bulgaria, where this kind of things are still underdevelopped. This is really a great opportunity and a challenging entreprise. Cross your fingers it all goes well! And, of course, you are warmly welcome to follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.

Last but not least: I am actively searching for a post-doc. If you see something that encompasses a combination of bioinformatics analyses and experimental work, do let me know through the comments 🙂

RIP Lynn Margulis

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Sad news, everyone. Lynn Margulis passed away two days ago.

Important? Hell, yeah. Never met her in person. But she came up with one of the most fascinating scientific theories ever: the endosymbiotic theory. Remember, the stuff you are told from high school: mitochondria and plastids (such as chloroplasts) originated from free-living bacteria that were integrated in other cells. The whole system ended up being an eukaryotic cell, in other words what composes us.

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[Brevia] Gendered Innovations portal

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I got this through the eq-uni mailing-list, from Londa Schiebinger, Stanford University, Ineke Klinge, Maastricht University and Martina Schraudner, Fraunhofer & TU Berlin. It is about the Gendered Innovations In Science, Health & Medicine, and Engineering Project.

This project develops practical methods of sex and gender analysis for scientists and engineers, and provides case studies as concrete illustrations of how sex and gender analysis leads to innovation.

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[Brevia] Open Letter to the European Commission on Socio-economic Sciences & Humanities research

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In the proposal for next EC Framework Programme — Horizon 2020, — no funding for research in the social sciences and humanities is mentioned. If you support the idea of maintaining specific research funding for the social sciences and humanities (as it is the case under FP7), you are kindly invited to sign the open letter to the European Commission

Please forward this invitation to sign to others.

The EMBO Meeting blogging coverage

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I think you will all be interested in finding more about the many and various topics that were approached during The EMBO Meeting 2011. That is why I hereafter link to the other certified bloggers’ pages 🙂 In case you want to refresh your memory about some of the topics I shortly wrote about during The EMBO Meeting 2010, I link them below as well. Enjoy!

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The EMBO Meeting Day 0: Career Advancement Day

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The EMBO Meeting 2011As I told you earlier, I was selected as certified blogger for The EMBO Meeting 🙂 This was really cool even though I had to travel a lot right afterwards and am now ill: definitely, when you come back from a place where it is 38°C every day to ~23°C, you feel the difference! But anyway: blogging about the conference makes me feel better 😉 Here is thus a short overview of the Day 0.

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[Brevia] The weed genome gets sequenced!

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Well, here comes Mary Jane with her brand new friends Medicinal Genomics and 454🙂 Medicinal Genomics announced it has sequenced the entire genomes of Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica (two strains of the therapeutic plant). They were using Roche’s GS FLX+ System to do so.
At the same time, I was browsing the last issue of Nature Reviews Genetics and spotting the title Technology: Getting Moore from DNA sequencing. Oh yes, for sure!

I find this totally awesome, of course 🙂 One of the good points is very pragmatic (and reassuring for sceptical fashionistas), as you may see it below:

This shoe is totally made out of cannabis 🙂

Sources: Oneras (CC-by-SA 2.0) & abaransk (CC-by-NC-ND 2.0)

Science Blogging at the EMBO Meeting 2011!

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Ahoi, ahoi. I know, I’m not writing that much anymore, this is bad, sad, etc.

But this will be very soonish subject to change! Awesome news: I was selected to be ‘certified blogger’ at the EMBO Meeting 😀 I’ll also have a poster there, in the ‘Microbiology’ section. Lastly, since I’ll be finishing my PhD in precisely 1 year from now, I’ll attend several sessions at the Career Development Day to improve my job-searching abilities 😉

The program looks really great and I am very much looking forward to attending some of the workshops dedicated on ‘Genome Evolution’, ‘Hosts & Microbes’ and — of course — Melissa Hines’s lecture on ‘Women In Science’! Naturally, you’ll hear from me on these topics.

The EMBO Meeting 2011If you want to apply, please do: the deadline was exceptionally extended to August 15.

See you in Vienna then!

To PhD or not to PhD?

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I believe PhD fellows are wrongly thought to be students. I argue that, given our responsibilities, PhDs are early career researchers.

Ok, so here is some quick thought. The other day, I received a nice mail from a Nature Staff member asking me whether I’d like to take part in a blogging initiative they had about PhD. I accepted with great pleasure: this is an excellent opportunity to talk about important things and to reach a huge amount of people. Whether they would agree with what I say or not is secondary. Nobody asked for. To me, the crucial thing was to tell about what people can live through their years as a PhD. My answers are here.

This is not all. Nature has a dedicated issue on PhDs this week.

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[Brevia] Looking forward to hearing from you…

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Next speakers @ TED:

David Brooks David Brooks Columnist
New York Times columnist David Brooks is the author of “Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There” and “On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (and Always Have) in the Future Tense.”

Session 1: Monumental
Tues Mar 1, 2011
11:00 – 12:45

Felisa Wolfe-Simon Felisa Wolfe-Simon Geobiochemist
With a background in molecular biology, biochemistry and phytoplankton physiology, Felisa Wolfe-Simon seeks to uncover the sequence of events that shaped the evolution of the modern oceans’ phytoplankton and life itself.

Session 5: Deep Mystery
Wed Mar 2, 2011
11:00 – 12:45

Well, folks, don’t forget the popcorn! This amazing piece is one of the worst pseudo-science writing I have ever read really deserves our attention. And of course, who could so quickly forget the exciting story of the presumably arsenic-loving alien on Earth?

Journal club and more

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So, as you may have noticed, I am a bit absent these days. Indeed, it is currently a lot of stuff to be completed, so I don’t have the time to write postings. But I’ll be back soon 😉 In the meantime, here are some papers and various blog postings I managed to read somehow:

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Bookmark: A parallel universe to be described soon

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I have to go to Journal Club now immediately, but the piece of news was just marvelously tempting to bookmark for later reading. So, here is what Reuters reports: “Physicists probing the origins of the cosmos hope that next year they will turn up the first proofs of the existence of concepts long dear to science-fiction writers such as hidden worlds and extra dimensions.” You can read the whole story here. Amazing!

 

Bookmark: NSF announces Wiki for Advancing Digitization of Biological Collection (ADBC)

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“The Emerging Frontiers office in the Directorate for Biological Sciences at the National Science Foundation recognizes the need to facilitate communication among diverse principal investigators, especially for new, highly collaborative programs such as Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections (ADBC)”, announces the NSF in The Dear Colleague Letter. They decided to use a wiki: you can access it here. Great initiative!

Boom boom boom, you knock me out right off of my feet…

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I really like this song! For those who do not know (shame on you!), it is John Lee Hoocker, one of the best bluesmen ever. I could keep on talking about blues, but my guess is it is far better to let you listen to it 🙂 So, let me go into something close to this song: turning Drosophila males’ heads. Indeed, a study published in the very last BMC Genomics shows that fruitfly males are under the spell: gene expression profiles in their heads are altered because of mating. Boom boom boom…

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When Tyrannosaurus rex had for breakfast… another Tyrannosaurus rex

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This post was chosen as an Editor's Selection for ResearchBlogging.org

(This was first published at The Urban Times)

In a study published in the online journal PLoS ONE yesterday, researchers show evidence for cannibalistic behaviour in Tyrannosaurus rex. Indeed, the king of the dinosaurs not only fed on other dinos but also on fellow T. rex, say the researchers after identifying bite marks on giants’ bones.

Tyrannosaurus rex was a quite amazing being: 42 ft in length, 13 ft tall at the hips and up to 7 tones in weight, with his two small but strong forelimbs and a running speed of 18km/h. It lived during the Late Cretaceous (which is between 67 and 65 millions of years ago), prior to the extension event. It was one of the few carnivorous species and is believed to have been preying upon hadrosaurs and ceratopsians; some experts have suggested it was primarily a scavenger.

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[Special bookmark] Open Access and Open Data only

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There were lot of very interesting things on the Web these last days on Open Access and Open Data. I would like to remind you that the very first Science 3.0 Blogging Contest starting on October 18 is dedicated to Open Access and will run parallel to the Open Access Week! I greatly invite you to take part, as a blogger, as a reader, as both! You will find below several links to make you feel even more eager than now October 18 comes.

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Science 3.0 Blogging Contest!

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Science 3.0 is a rapidly growing online community of scientists and people with wide-ranging interests. Discussing science with the current and future tools and concepts of information is a great endeavour we are all happy to take part in! In order to increase this emulation, we decided to launch the ‘Science 3.0 Blogging Contest’.

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Bookmark: “A healthy dose of skepticism”

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Science publishes today a Science & Policy article about regulation of the famous Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) genome testing. An interesting discussion highlighting the crucial importance of joint efforts:

Effective regulation will require cooperation from governmental agencies, and flexibility to accommodate the complexities of tests, like those offered by DTC companies, that provide genome-wide analysis producing results with variable and often uncertain validity and clinical utility.

Bookmark: Links to read, from here and there

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I am currently spending my time reading papers. And user guides. The cliché of the lab rat is not applicable anymore. The cliché of the computer geek neither: I am hardly launching sudo aptitude update && sudo aptitude safe-upgrade on my Debian and this is it. The number of tabs in my browser is dangerously approaching 200 and this makes me nervous 🙂 So, here is a nice bunch of links:

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On savvy and groups

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CollaborationA report was published in Science last week titled “Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups”. They set up the “c factor”, for collective intelligence, somehow a parallel of the g (for general intelligence. I told a bit about this after Prof. Haier’s conference at the EMBO meeting). In brief, what the authors report, is that individual intelligence of people constituting a group (a team) is not correlated with the success of the team to solve a problem. Further, when extending the tests, it came up that having more women in the team increases the so called “social sensitivity” and improves performance. Groovy, eh?

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Science Online 2011 is coming!

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In 2011 will be held the 5th edition of Science Online, the conference on online science. You are a blogger? You enjoy reading blogs about science? You are not that comfortable about how to begin discussing science through a blog and want to meet some veterans? Join Science Online 2011!

But beforehand: let all of us help Bora and Anton to make this happen! Here are the 10 things everyone can do:

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Bookmark: Who is in the lab?

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Here is this highly colourful description of people you (can) meet in the lab. Actually, it happens quite often that you meet more than 2 of those at a time in a given lab. This essay by Adam Ruben is titled “Don’t Worry, I’m (Un)Professional: A Guide to Your Laboratory Colleagues” and reminded me some colleagues 😉 . And what about you?

I had always thought of scientists as serious, responsible people. A bit socially awkward, maybe, but certainly smart and probably boring — the sort of folks you’d have dinner with and then tell your spouse, “Well, I didn’t understand everything they were saying about tuberculosis, but in general they seemed pleasant.” In reality, though, scientists are as idiosyncratic, incompetent, and irresponsible as people in any industry. We just have cooler coats.

Bookmark: Science writing howto

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I could not resist: this posting is just great, so a bookmark here to keep it close 😉 To not let you in a total terra incognita, here is what it is about:

In the standfirst I will make a fairly obvious pun about the subject matter before posing an inane question I have no intention of really answering: is this an important scientific finding?

Brevia: The IgNobel winners 2010 announced!

Fellatio by Fruit Bats Prolongs Copulation Time
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The 20th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony happenned on September 30 at Sanders Theatre, Harvard University. If, for whatever reason, you still ignore who the winners are, have a look below! My favorite ones are those for Physics and Biology (the latter was presented during a Journal Club in my lab 😀 ).

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Bookmark: 42, or why statistics are magic

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Pie chartMatt Parker discusses the power of statistics to say what one would like to hear:

By their very nature, statistics can only be misused when the audience doesn’t bother checking them. Statistics are just a numerical summary of evidence that has been collected. They give people the starting point to delve directly into that evidence and see if the arguments hold together.

A nice summary of why none should believe numbers without checking them.

Image (CC-by)

Cell culture: Oktoberfest

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Wies'nOn September 18, the 200th edition of Oktoberfest was kicked off in Munich, Germany. Roasted chicken, weisswurst and tasty bretzels are all around, and of course, the beer! In this edition of Cell Culture, the whole beer journey is presented: from the foamy Mass to tourist’s liver. Michaeleen Doucleff writes a must-read report about it. Nice trip!

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Because publishing your paper is only half of the job

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The title of this posting refers to the excellent article from David Dobbs I bookmarked very recently. I’d like to present you a very interesting initiative from French bioscience research program for high-school students called “Tous chercheurs”. The Community Page of the very last PLoS Biology is dedicated to this project and I find it really great. Because, indeed, publishing your science paper is only half of the job.

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Chocolate… Miam!

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Miam!The cocoa genome has been released last week, by Mars (you know, the company producing M&M’s and suchlikes). They announced it as data released in the public domain. This sounds great! Well, it only sounds…

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How to perform responsible research

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Mad scientistWhereas professionals from medical care have the Hippocratic oath and researchers on human have the Nuremberg code for ethics to subscribe to, there are no such guidelines for people in sciences. The 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity in Singapore took place at the end of July this year. The output of this meeting gathering more than 300 individuals from 51 countries is the Singapore Statement on Research Integrity released on September 22.

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Bookmark: Publishing your science paper is only half the job

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An excellent posting from David Dobbs and the importance of bringing your research to non scientists. I particularly liked the conclusion:

Getting your research out there and taking time out from the lab is a pain, no doubt. But if you’re a scientist, surely you don’t expect the rest of us to just assume your work is important. No. If you want the world to believe that your work is important and that modern life and a free society depend on a rigorous, evidence-based approach to things, you wouldn’t ask us to take it on faith. You’d want to show us the evidence.

Get involved: Making metrics that measure what matters

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Cameron Neylon is inviting today everybody to join and take actively part in a poject to redefine bibliographic metrics. Creating this kind of system is essential for sharing knowledge and “there is an opportunity to connect technical expertise and data with the needs of funders, researchers, and perhaps even the mainstream media and government.”. The current proposal stands for a Barcamp day in UK followed by two-day hackfest. The proposal is available to view and edit as a GoogleDoc.

Bookmark: BMJ Open, accessible medical research

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This is an open access journal launched very recently and focused on medical research. It aims at publishing not only full-text reports, but also pilot studies and pre-protocols. Moreover, all data will be published online and reviewers’ comments will figure alongside the main text. This initiative emphasizes the importance of transparency and data sharing in science. Support BMJ Open, submit your results there!

Brevia: A new link between art and science, or towards hackerspaces’ funding

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Bacteria on the beachAlt. Art-Sci is the phrase coming frequently in mind when some people talk about establishing a link between art and science. A recent joint workshop gathering representatives from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) but also researchers, faculty members and artists discussed about this indispensable link between art and science.

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In the mood: French minister of education and research on Shanghai ranking

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The French version of this posting is available here.

The French newspaper Libération organizes regular chatrooms where questions are adressed to various politicians. On September 15, the guest was Mrs Valérie Pécresse, the French minister of Education and Research. She answered several interesting questions and, among them, the one on the Shanghai ranking published a little ago. I prefer laughing than crying from despair when I read this…

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Bookmark: Bioinformatics education should start in High school

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Xconomy|Seattle publishes opinion from Jodie Spitze where the question about the crossroad between biology and computer science is addressed:

In this digital age, one of the areas that should be most exciting to students is the intersection between technology and biology. Public databases store an abundance of biological data and a variety of programs enable this data to be searched, compared, and visualized. Termed bioinformatics, researchers use these capabilities to understand and treat genetic conditions, discern evolutionary relationships, and learn about how cancer cells differ from normal cells. What is especially exciting is that this technology is available to all, including high school students.

So why is bioinformatics rarely included in biology courses?

Nice analysis, recommended reading!

Improving biofuel production thanks to yeast

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Everybody knows humankind produces beer and wine since ever. In this case, we put a bug – yeast, from the same family as the one helping to produce the pastries  – in presence of sugar and absence of oxygen which concludes in the production of bioethanol.

What is biofuel?

Biofuels are a wide range of fuels which are in some way derived from biomass. When people think of producing some liquid biofuel, it is generally alcohol-based, namely bioethanol. People like it because it is renewable energy. It can be made from agricultural feedstocks (sugar cane, maize, potato).

The problem is that if we use these crops, the food prices will increase and moreover, a lot of arable lands is needed; but most of all, the concerns went to the energy required to keep the pollution balance of the whole cycle of ethanol production (especially when it comes from corn).

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Brevia: Teaching the zombie condition at the university

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The Baltimore Sun announced the other day that a class on the undead will be held at the Baltimore University. It is called Zombies 101 and will be taught by Arnold Blumberg, the author of Zombiemania (a book on zombie movies) and the curator of Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, which focuses on American pop culture. This class will be part of English 333. The students will watch 16 movies on zombies. If they want, as an alternative to a final research paper, they may write scripts or draw storyboards for their ideal zombie flicks.

Definitely, a class to die for!

P.S. If you want to know more on other fancy courses provided in the academia, check out the catalogue Laura Davis from Belfast Telegraph presents.

The futur of biotech patents – part 1

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[En français]

What is the futur (if any) of biotech patents? What did the Bilski ruling change? Did it change something at all? I’m not a specialist, but I’ll give it a try. First, this posting will adress the question about the definition of what patenting the living means. In another one, I’ll try to go more into some historical details and their importance for the futur of biotech patents.

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EMBO meeting special session: The intelligent brain – does sexe matter?

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This is a summary of the talk Prof. Richard Haier gave on September 6 titled The new science of intelligence: men, women and brains. There are various things I do not agree with. However, I will not comment on them in this posting to let everybody read what Prof. Haier said and not what I think about what he said.

Contrary to myth, intelligence can be defined and measured. Intelligence tests scores are related to brain features. Genetic and epigenetic influence on intelligence can be assessed: intelligence is thus 100% biological. The talk was organized as follows:

  1. Examples of people with extraordinary intelligence;
  2. Measuring intelligence;
  3. Brain localisation of intelligence;
  4. Gender-specific intelligence.
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Exclusive: opening of the EMBO meeting in Barcelona, Spain

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I haven’t said it yet, but I’m at the EMBO meeting in Barcelona (Spain) at the moment. I’ll attend some exciting workshops and lectures, but – last but not least – I’ll present a poster at the session dedicated to Genomics and Computational Biology on Tuesday. The satellite session is finished now and the opening talks and lectures took place after 6 pm in the Auditorium of the Palau des Congressos. Some impressions below 🙂

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Bookmark: BioMed Central launches a new initiative to promote data sharing

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Open AccessBMC Researcher Notes’ latest editorial titles A call for BMC Research Notes contributions promoting best practice in data standardization, sharing and publication. It announces a new initiative aiming at promoting best practice in sharing and publishing data, with a focus on standardized, re-useable formats. Thus, data from original research project described by precised Data Notes will be made publicly accessible and, along with, an example dataset will be included.

This great initiative is a new step towards open data and research reproducibility!

Read the original announcement from BMC.

Bookmark: Scientopia

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Scientopia is presented as “a collective of people who write about science because they love to do so”. Sounds nice. Participation seems a bit restrictive, though. Haven’t had a closer look yet, but I read this on Pharyngula’s blog (and it is not that far from my first impression):

Although, I do have to say that I’m not a fan of their published code. It throws around the word “respect” way too much, which happens to be one of those words that annoys me, because it is too easily assumed when it should be earned. I don’t respect everyone who blogs on science, and not everyone respects me (nor should they)…but it does put me on edge when a group announces a demand for mutual respect and also lays out a protocol for eviction, when I know that several of the people in the collective had little respect for some others on the Sb network. I have no respect for the pretense of respect.

Read and see.

Bookmark: The third reviewer

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Il s’agit d’un forum pour scientifiques où ils peuvent commenter des papiers récemment publiés. Un peu comme un Journal club. Pour l’instant, le thème ayant le plus d’articles est Neurosciences, mais la Microbiologie commence à arriver aussi.
Le (très) mauvais point : les articles non open access ne présentent que les abstracts (résumés). Donc, si on n’a pas accès au journal, c’est loupé pour lire le tout.

À voir ici.