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You are currently viewing all posts published in 2016

Call a professional

Scientists have a hard time explaining things. Granted, much of what they’re trying to explain is impossibly complicated. But not always. Jimmy Kimmel and John Oliver recently produced some great videos that should inspire everyone in science communication to realize that maybe all we really need to do is turn over the explaining to the professionals.…

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Your relatives are bacteria

When Charles Darwin’s famous book, “On the Origin of Species,” was published in 1859, it took science and society by storm. Coming on the heels of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, Darwin’s book catalyzed a veritable new industry of trying explaining the natural world, both to good and ill effect (for instance, the idea of evolution gave racists new ammunition in their efforts to discriminate against non-whites). To-date (save…

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Impact factors are stupid

Impact factors are hugely important in journal publishing. Essentially, they determine which journals are more widely read (more “impactful”). Naturally, then, just like the Nielsen ratings in television, they are significant measures because publishing in high impact journals is considered more prestigious, and therefore more valuable for things that matter to researchers like academic tenure and funding opportunities. But what if impact factors were way off? It’s no secret in…

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ClinicalTrials.gov not living up to promise

Clinical researchers in the US are required to register trials and deposit trial information at ClinicalTrials.gov. Most, however, don’t. According to several recent study, compliance with this law may be somewhere between around 13 and 22 percent. Which is to say that of the 13, 327 clinical trials conducted between 2008 and 2013, only 1,790 were filed on  ClinicalTrials.gov, leaving 11,537 unreported. Says author Kent Anderson in this March 3,…

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New study casts doubt on study that casted doubt

In 2015, a widely publicized report by the Center for Open Science claimed that dozens of psychology studies from a sample of 100 were unsound. A new report has challenged these findings, claiming that nearly all of the studies examined by COS were acceptable and that the COS study itself was statistically flawed. According to the New York Times, “One issue the critique raised was how faithfully the replication team…

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Sci-Hub reveals split in OA community

“Last week in popular media, Alexandra Elbakyan got a lot of screen time (also known as free advertising) and the response has been interesting. For those that have not been paying attention, Elbakyan runs Sci-Hub, a site that provides illegal access to over 47 million scholarly journal articles. You can read about Elbakyan’s mission in her own words here, here, and here. She sincerely believes that she is above the…

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Enhancing Participation in the U.S. Global Change Research Program

The US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is a collection of 13 Federal entities charged by law to assist the United States and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change. As the understanding of global change has evolved over the past decades and as demand for scientific information on global change has increased, the USGCRP has increasingly focused on research that…

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Moral courage and science

Marc Edwards, the scientist who helped expose the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, says that the systems built to support scientists do not reward moral courage and that the university pipeline contains toxins of its own — which, if ignored, will corrode public faith in science. When is it appropriate for academics to be skeptical of an official narrative when that narrative is coming from scientific authorities? “I grew up…

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