Why ‘Failure’ Is Good For Science

Picture this. You’ve grinding away at your lab bench or instrument workstation or computer (for those computational folks) for hours trying to come up with some usable data. You’ve spent the last few days trying new approaches to the same problem, to no avail. Maybe you’re sick with a cold. Maybe it’s late in the evening and you’re trying to get home. A notification pops … Continue reading Why ‘Failure’ Is Good For Science

Scientific Publisher Pay-Walls: an Ethical Nightmare.

Yes. I understand the title of this is relatively inflammatory, but this is a topic that is of particular significance and yet, not-so-surprising, receives very little media coverage. Many don’t know this, but when a researcher publishes an article, the rights of said article, as well as its contents (figures, tables, writing, etc.) are often stripped from the researcher, becoming a property of the publisher. The publisher, or ‘provider’, companies like Elsevier (under the RELX Group, formerly Reed Elsevier), Springer, and Wiley, then bundle the journal, wherein your research is published, with other journals and offer these bundles to libraries on a subscription-basis for outrageous annual feel. To illustrate, in 2003 the University of California – San Francisco boycotted Elsevier after they asked for an annual fee of $90,000 for six Cell Press journals 1. The world of scientific publishing is replete with these instances of price-gouging.

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Continue reading “Scientific Publisher Pay-Walls: an Ethical Nightmare.”

Scientific Communication: Why is it Important?

Bioconjugate [noun by-oh-kon-juh-git]: a biological substance containing of a formed stable bond between two separate molecules.

Scientific communication is the transmission of scientific concepts and discoveries to a target audience by means which will be understood by said audience. To be perfectly clear, italics were used in the aforementioned ‘target audience’ to denote that target’ is the key word. The target audience can be anyone from members of the same laboratory listening to a weekly report to viewers of a PBS documentary on space travel to school children learning about gravity for the first time. The word ‘target’ is vastly significant because you would never explain define gravity as being F=Gm1m2/r2 to a 7 year old child, nor would it be fitting to demonstrate the concept of gravity to Stephen Hawking by dropping apples from a balcony. In communicating science to an audience, it is key to do so in a context they can understand. This communication becomes difficult when the language use offers up nothing for the audience to relate to and form an association with. Continue reading “Scientific Communication: Why is it Important?”