Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Research Works Act defeated

Huge success toward preserving the open science movement's momentum.

The Research Works Act would've set the open science movement back years by restricting congress from requiring that research created at the tax payer's expense be made publicly available. More clearly: the Research Works Act would've prohibited congress from requiring tax payer-funded science be made available for free to the tax payer.

I couldn't find a good summary in our "paper of record," so please check out the Slate.com article here.

Also worth noting is the (originally) unconditional support for this bill by Elsevier, a publishing conglomerate. I'm not sure their support of it can be construed as anything but self-preservation, greed, taking a cut of the pie, a desperate act by an unnecessary middle-man.

I ask again: why do we need publishing houses? Why do we even need journals?

We do not. We need an effective, rigorous peer-review process that'll provide transparent, high-quality scientific publishing. This absolutely does not need to be accomplished via publishing houses and journals. We have other options.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Boycott publishing?

A great little piece from our northern neighbor on the absurd financial entanglements of the publishing industry. The backlash against academic status quo is clearly growing.

We still need a better system with which to publish.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Cautionary Tale of Anil Potti

Anil Potti is a former Duke University researcher who was one of the catalysts for the promise of chemotherapy genomics, i.e. decoding a patient's cancer's genome and picking out which chemotherapy would work best at killing it. It's an amazingly fascinating concept and it's still actively pursued to see if there is something to salvage. The reason there is something needing to be salvaged, however, is because Dr. Potti fabricated data. All of it. This was going to be the 'next big thing' in medicine, right up there with regenerative medicine, as the panacea to one's (cancerous) ills. Thankfully other diligent researchers closely examined the data and found incongruities and finally brought the sham of research down. If there was a more open source method to data review, perhaps these inconsistencies would have surfaced sooner. Because of the current system's behind-closed-doors policy, real people were subjected to faulty research premises. While it has yet to be shown if the patients did not receive true standard-of-care, it begs the question. Open Science: it can save lives.

You can learn more about Dr. Anil Potti here, here, and here.

Also, you can look up Dr. Potti and find several websites full of stock photo images of doctors and smiling young people as he details all of his grand exploits and gleans over his recent misconduct. He also falsely claimed he was a Rhodes Scholar. So yeah, he's a real piece of work.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Federal Research Public Access Act

Here is an interesting article about the Federal Research Public Access Act. It provides links to a .pdf file that's 7 pages of the actual bill, which opens up federally-funded research to public access six months after publication (i.e. a really thoughtful name to the bill). What is great about this is that it follows on the heels of the Research Works Act, which would have effectively destroyed such a possibility and nullified the NIH open access policy. The latter bill was backed by Elsevier Publishing and stinks to high heaven; already numerous scientists have signed a boycott of Elsevier Publishing. Read on and contact your state representatives to support FRPAA and squash RWA.
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