Monday, June 29, 2009

Article from The Scientist on "Citation Amnesia"

Interesting comment on citation practice in journal articles. Below is quoted only the first few paragraphs. Full article and comments from readers are well worth reading. Click on the title of this blog post for a link to the article.

The Scientist: NewsBlog:
Citation amnesia: The results
Posted by Bob Grant
[Entry posted at 25th June 2009 03:57 PM GMT]

Citing past scientific work in present-day research papers can be a slippery business. Contributions from competing labs can be lossed over, pertinent studies accidentally left out, or similar research not mentioned in an attempt to give the study at hand a sheen of novelty.

We at The Scientist often hear complaints from our readers concerning what they regard as either honest or purposeful omissions in the reference lists of high-profile scientific papers. So we conducted a study of our own to try and quantify the prevalence of these types of slights and ask our readers how the problem might be fixed.

Image: Wikimedia
Indeed, the vast majority of the survey's roughly 550 respondents -- 85% -- said that citation amnesia in the life sciences literature is an already-serious or potentially serious problem. A full 72% of respondents said their own work had been regularly or frequently ignored in the citations list of subsequent publications. Respondents' explanations of the causes range from maliciousness to laziness.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Journal of Biology editorial - Biologists Who Count

Editorial in a recent Journal of Biology discusses the debate about the importance of numeracy in the study of biology. First paragraph below. The title of this post is a link to the full text.

Biologists Who Count

Miranda Robertson

Journal of Biology 2009, 8:34doi:10.1186/jbiol146

Published: 27 May 2009

© 2009 BioMed Central Ltd


The importance of mathematics in biology is a matter of perennial debate. The squabbles of early 20th century geneticists on the value of mathematics to the study of evolution have recently been revisited in Journal of Biology [1], and the 21st century has seen an explosion of information from various -omics and imaging techniques that has provided fresh impetus to the arguments urging the need for mathematical competence in the life sciences [2]. While there can be no question about the contribution of mathematics to many fields in biology, there is a curious tendency on the part of numerate biologists (often immigrants from the physical sciences) to insist that it is an essential part of the equipment of a biologist and none should be without it. This seems, on the evidence, extreme.