- The Open Notebook, a science-journalism-focused site described as a "non-profit organization that provides unique tools and resources to help science journalists at all experience levels hone their craft", is introducing a series of short videos featuring prominent science writers giving advice. First up is the esteemed Deborah Blum. Watch the video: the point she makes about being able to distill things down to a sentence is a good one. It extends beyond journalism, too--can you sum up your one-hour research seminar in a sentence? How about your journal club article?
- Physics professor and blogger Chad Orzel has some recommendations about science blogging. First and foremost: enjoy it.
- Illustrator Glendon Mellow points out some ineffective or just plain bad uses of imagery in pro-vaccination science communication. He uses this as a case study of why science communicators need to be mindful of the images they use and why using illustrations/photos can be beneficial to reaching an audience.
- Maryn McKenna brings some results from ScienceOnline to the internet, discussing what science writers can learn from genre novels.
Denialism, chemophobia, and fraud
- Last week I included a link to a chemophobic, medically-related New York Times piece accompanied by a commentary/analysis by Michelle Francl at The Culture of Chemistry. This week, Francl has taken her argument to Slate magazine with an excellent, pointed piece. The second page, especially, contains an effective argument against blind naturophilia.
- At Forbes, Emily Willingham provides recommendations for fighting denialism via a social-networking, almost grassroots approach. She also recommends not calling denialism "denialism". I think her points are good, and I would suspect they are empirically more effective than a Dawkins-style mind-clubbing.
- Derek Lowe points out a frightening example of a post at Retraction Watch being taken down after a fraudulent DMCA notice was filed against the blog. This kind of thing is a threat to scientific integrity and is illustrative of how 'reputation companies' and others can stifle important communication.
Chemical education & academia
- Glen Ernst writes skeptically of the concept of a "10K BA" (i.e. radically cheap, cost-effective degree) in the context of undergraduate chemical education. It's hard to imagine being able to support effective lab facilities for that amount.
- Educators: Don't miss grad-student and educational specialist Michael Evans' thoughtful and thorough chemical education roundup.
- At Fragments of Truth, we find a tongue-in-cheek 'story' proposing "erase undesirable data" coupons in order to accelerate PhD student publication and graduation.
- Kate Clancy and Chris Chambers provide a response to "pseudoscience and stereotyping" in regards to how to increase involvement of girls in science. At Brain Flapping, Dean Burnett provides a parody of stereotypes with some amusing "recommendations" for making boys more interested in science.
- From C&EN comes news that the director of the NSF, Subra Suresh, has stepped down to accept a job as the president of Carnegie Mellon University.
- The abundance of over-used or inappropriatedly-used antibiotics in agriculture is an important topic for public health. This brief piece in Wired, with accompanying infographics, shows that the problem is indeed bad. Some highlights: 80% of antibiotic use in the US is for livestock; also, Salmonella isolates from poultry are increasingly showing multidrug resistance. The piece also questions the efficacy of the FDA's policy of "voluntary" antibiotic regulation/reporting.
- Scot Huler points out that North Carolina's new leader of the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources is a climate-change denier who considers oil to be a renewable resource.
- A little feature by Colorado State University explores the role one faculty member, an expert in plant-pathogen intereactions, is playing in biosecurity and public policy. It's a cool example to illustrate the importance of "beyond-the-lab" science impact.
- The American Institute of Physics (AIP) provides a summary of a the first House Science Committee meeting of this Congressional term. It seems favorable; topics of discussion included how to increase numbers in STEM education (including improving K-12 STEM education), how to maintain R&D tax credits for businesses, and how to improve immigration policies to retain international STEM graduates. The chemistry job market was absent.
- B.R.S.M. points out an interesting paper that is decidedly not gluten-free.
- At ChemBark, Paul (and commenters) point out some highly-cited chemistry papers, comparing the Sanger sequencing paper to KCN's entire career. There's a 1.4:1 ratio of citations in that case, which isn't really fair: Sanger sequencing is at least one or two orders of magnitude more important than KCN's career.
- Chemjobber describes a (somewhat) large-scale industrial use of C-H activation. This area of chemistry is the basis of many high-profile academic groups, so it's nice to see examples adopted in what some would call the 'real world'.
- See Arr Oh scribes an open letter homage to R.B. Woodward. Also included is a link to open-access PDFs of R.B. Woodward's doctoral (and bachelor's) theses from MIT. It's really quite fascinating to be able to see how the nature of chemical writing has (and hasn't) changed since 1937. My favorite sentence so far: "When the reaction was complete, the dark brown oil was washed several times with water dried over a small amount of anhydrous sodium sulphate and distilled in a gigh vacuum" (sic).
- Derek Lowe discusses a recent HR-geared report on pharma employment. A heavy implication of the report is that management is having a difficult time finding qualified employees, which Derek disagrees with.
- This New Yorker profile of Amy Bishop--the scientist who shot six of her colleagues in a faculty meeting--is a long, long read, but it's well-done and illustrates the complexities of what the media (and others) tend to simplify as either a problem with the pressures of academia or purely a case of poor mental health.
- Ewan Birney of The Guardian brings us a set of short vignettes about the role emotions play in science. It's interesting to read and be mindful of, especially given public perception of scientists (as well as scientist perception of scientists).
- This Scientific American blogpost by Samuel Arbesman discusses a new metric for determining the ideal impact-to-cost ratio when selecting an open-access journal.
- I liked this story at The Crux (Discover Magazine) about the role of microbes in shaping biodiversity.
- Cassandra Willyard (The Last Word on Nothing) writes about a classical music album in the 1960s that was produced as an advertisement for a sleep aid. The album's liner notes include the chemical structure for the drug.