Science isn’t for the Faint of Heart

After a whirlwind week with meetings in California, there has been some really interesting bits and pieces which I wanted to capture:

1. With the upcoming retirement of a key nutrition contributor within DSM, we are looking to hire a PhD scientist with experience, preferably in the consumer-packaged goods environment. The company is doing well. I like my colleagues, and surprising to say, I like living in northern NJ! So help me find someone to work with!

2. Science isn’t easy. It does require training, focus, and persistence. Fortunately, none of my publication experiences have been like this….How to Publish a Scientific Comment in 1 2 3 Easy Steps by Professor Rick Trebino. Brought to my attention via @ivanoransky and @michaelhoffman

3. The emergence of new journals creates new publication choices for scientists. It will take time for journals, like Advances in Nutrition and the new open-access Journal of Nutritional Science to establish. But they will. Will journal impact factors become secondary to the ‘impact’ of the article? It seems possible as everyone can measure the number of times their article has been cited.

4. Which leads me to post-publication peer review. Is this the future? On Mar 26, Kent Anderson posted The Problems with Calling Comments “Post-Publication Peer-Review”. He launched P3R or ‘post-publication review’ at Pediatrics in 1998 and admits they have seen more online letters than post-publication reviews. Kent notes that post-publication review systems leave many aspects of peer-review behind:

  1. The authors of the paper are known to the reviewers.
  2. The identity of the reviewers are disclosed to the authors and to subsequent reviewers.
  3. The reviewers are not pre-qualified as true peers.
  4. The reviewers are not identified as part of any formal committee or peer-review group.
  5. There is no uniform ranking or grading system.

I agree with these points. While it may be tempting to zip out a 140 character tweet or to post criticisms (or endorsements) online, a degree of civility is needed to have a constructive dialogue. Progress is made by attacking the data/hypothesis, not the individual. Science isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires training, rigor, and replication. 

5. Which brings me to the presentation given by @ivanoransky, Editor at Reuters Health, on March 20 entitled “We are All Gatekeepers Now”. The number of retractions are increasing. But with blogs, twitter, and other tools, we are better connected and little occurs without being seen. And when people are not transparent, it will come out….

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About Michael McBurney

Personal Blog | Nutrition science | Generally curious about impact of social media and open access journals on science communication. Employed by DSM.
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