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Archive for the ‘Deep Thoughts’ Category

The Nagoya Protocol and Synthetic Biology Research: A Look at the Potential Impacts

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 11-04-2013

The United Nations (UN) is working to ensure that the benefits of genetic resources are shared in a fair and equitable way via the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Nagoya Protocol was adopted in 2010 to provide a transparent legal framework for sharing genetic resources. “Its objective is the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, thereby contributing to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity,” according to the UN.

A new report from the Synthetic Biology Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars looks at how the protocol may affect U.S. researchers working in the field of synthetic biology.

Read more…

Is the American Government Killing Science?

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 10-15-2013

As the government shutdown enters its third week and the 2013 sequestration looms large, many are wondering just how much pain the US government can cause to American scientists. How deep does the political system reach into academic scientists’ pockets? Is the deadly sequester killing current research? Moreover, what effect are these budget cuts having on the scientific aspirations of budding young scientists?

According to a video that appeared in yesterday’s Huffington Post m four out of the five Nobel Prize winning scientist currently working for the government have been furloughed and many experiments have been destroyed due to the 2 week gap in their research projects (think dead cells). More importantly, the Huff Post quotes a source as saying that

we are going to lose a whole new generation of young scientists since many will turn away from science

In a well written blog post from a master’s student in the trenches, Kevin Boehnke attempts to answer the question how hard has the sequester and government shutdown affected both faculty and students. In an (unscientific) poll, Kevin reveals that most of those asked believe that the current government actions will have a small to moderate impact on their research. According to the article, the cutbacks will affect junior faculty more than tenured staff and doctoral students are becoming more sensitive to the political risks involved in pursuing a scientific career.

So what’s the solution? Boehnke suggests that more scientists need to run for political office.

What are your thoughts?

Appreciating the value of what you don’t know

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 10-10-2013

Today’s Biologists are Tomorrow’s Engineers

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 09-11-2013

A Journal Impact Factor Scandal

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-29-2013

In a wildly popular post published several months ago, we took a controversial stance in discussing the ugly side of the journal impact factor. In that article we argued that the journal impact factor (JIF) is a useless tool for measuring the productivity of scientists and that it is being used unfairly to grant merit increases to scientists based solely on their JIF ranking. The article generated dozens of comments, with many readers avidly agreeing with our opinion and enthusiastically sharing their stories of colleagues who have been cheated out of deserved promotions due to their dearth of publications in journals with high JIF rankings.

In a rather ironic twist of fate, the journal Nature, (probably one of the highest ranking JIF journals around), broke a story on how several Brazilian scientific journals have been suspended from Thomson Reuters’ JIF service for inappropriately manipulating the journal’s content to falsely increase their JIF rating. The accused Brazilian journal editors encouraged scientists to cite other Brazilian journal articles in their publication in order to help increase the JIF ranking of the cited journal. In an even more egregious move, the editors created a Brazilian cartel and agreed to stack their publications with citations from their peer’s journals, falsely inflating the Brazilian journals’ JIF.

The editors defended their action by claiming that many Brazilian scientists are hesitant to publish in local journals due to the governmental policy of preferentially funding scientists that publish in high JIF journals. This has created a Pandora’s box for Brazilian journals looking to improve their JIF score since local scientists are unwilling to publish in the local journals, (which in the long-term would help increase the journal’s JIF), making it even more difficult for Brazilian journals to improve their ranking.

So as you see, not only are academic institutions using JIF the wrong way, governments are as well. Moral of the story, get rid of JIF and find a better way to evaluate scientific contribution!