Tag Archives: science

Looking for personal stories from women in science

Originally posted on Marie-Claire Shanahan’s personal blog, Boundary Vision, on 27 August 2014.

The submission deadline for provisional topics and titles is 10 September 2014.

Me and my daughter admiring a penguin at the Calgary Zoo.Diving headlong into motherhood this year has meant less blogging (obvious to anyone who subscribes here…), but it has also made me think a lot more about the scientific life that I would hope for my new daughter and girls like her. Currently her research interests include ceiling fans, her toes, her soother, the dogs and the penguins at the Calgary Zoo. But should she be interested in pursuing science as a career, what would I want her to know? Continue reading

5 Very Good Questions

Nature has published a comment by William P. Hanage suggesting ways to inoculate oneself against the hype associated with the burgeoning field of microbiome studies. As Bethany Brookshire (aka, SciCurious) notes, these questions should be applied to any and all research, not just the microbiome.

1. Can experiments distinguish differences that matter?
2. Does the study show causation or just correlation?
3. What is the mechanism?
4. How much do experiments reflect reality?
5. Could anything else explain the results?
-paraphrased from William P. Hanage in Nature

What is misconduct?

The results of a small survey of graduate students and post-docs suggest that our research trainees don’t really know what research misconduct is below the level of flat-out fabrication.

However, we were dismayed that only 54 per cent gave a three to “knowingly selecting only those data that support a hypothesis” and 42 per cent to “deleting some data to make trends clearer”. The naivety is staggering. – Tim Birkhead & Tom Montgomerie

They also note that these individuals face considerable barriers to reporting misconduct when they believe it has occurred.

I recall the mandatory ethics class we took at Washington University in St. Louis. It was worthless. I recall spending a great deal of time talking about “salami science”. Salami science is the practice of parceling your work out into as many paper with as little unique content each as possible. This is bad behavior that games some of the systems used to evaluate researchers. It does not, however, corrupt the scientific results with inaccurate data and results.

While I received my training in proper, scientific conduct in my thesis lab, that is not a sustainable solution. The future of scientific investigation should not depend on the efforts of individual thesis mentors – they are simply too inconsistent. Ethics education is key to training in the proper implementation of the scientific method and should be central to all aspects of graduate training, including the development of quality courses that provide real training in ethics and identifying misconduct.

The Representative Disapproves

Representative Jackie Speier (CA, 14th District) has taken Science Magazine to task (PDF of full letter here) for their controversial cover and controversial response to criticism of that cover.

The July ll issue of Science Magazine featured a lurid cover photograph of transgender women in tight dresses and high heels with their heads cropped out of the frame.

Continue reading

Putting his money where his mouth is on gender equality in science

Doing it right. UC Davis microbiome researcher Jonathon Eisen not only turned down an endowed lectureship because the series was too male dominated, but also engaged the lecture series leadership and suggested replacements (hat tip to Evelyn Padilla).

For a more journalistic account, check out Elizabeth Case (hat tip to Jonathon Eisen).