science writing

 

Neutrality, Balance and Anonymous Sources in Science Blogging – #scioStandards

Posted 24 February 2014 by Jalees Rehman

This is Part 2 of a series of blog posts in anticipation of the Upholding standards in scientific blogs (Session 10B, #scioStandards) session which I will be facilitating at noon on Saturday, March 1 at the upcoming ScienceOnline conference (February 27 – March 1, 2014 in Raleigh, NC - USA). Please read Part 1 here. The goal of these blog posts is to raise questions which readers can ponder and hopefully discuss during the session. 1.       Neutrality Neutrality is prized... Read more

Background Reading in Science Blogging – #scioStandards

Posted 21 February 2014 by Jalees Rehman

There will be so many interesting sessions at the upcoming ScienceOnline conference (February 27 – March 1, 2014 in Raleigh, NC - USA) that it is going to be difficult to choose which sessions to attend, because one will invariably miss out on concurrent sessions. If you are not too exhausted, please attend one of the last sessions of the conference: Upholding standards in scientific blogs (Session 10B, #scioStandards). I will be facilitating the discussion at this session, which will... Read more

Is It Possible To Have Excess Weight And Still Be Healthy?

Posted 14 February 2014 by Jalees Rehman

Is it possible to be overweight or obese and still be considered healthy? Most physicians advise their patients who are overweight or obese to lose weight because excess weight is a known risk factor for severe chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. However, in recent years, a controversy has arisen regarding the actual impact of increased weight on an individual’s life expectancy or risk of suffering from heart attacks. Some researchers argue that being overweight... Read more

Science and Poetry: #ScienceLanday #ScienceHaiku

Posted 3 February 2014 by Jalees Rehman

In a recent essay for 3Quarksdaily, I describe my fascination with short poetic forms such as haiku and landays (short Afghani folk poems) and how these traditional Asian forms of poetry can serve as means to create English-language poems that relate to science and our lives as academic scientists. Example of science-related haiku:   Mitochondria Grainy threads in cells, powerhouses of life are harbingers of death   Example of a landay:   Tenure Trek Sirens of tenure captivate us, chained... Read more

Critical Science Writing: A Checklist for the Life Sciences

Posted 21 May 2013 by Jalees Rehman

One major obstacle in the "infotainment versus critical science writing" debate is that there is no universal definition of what constitutes "critical analysis" in science writing. How can we decide whether or not critical science writing is adequately represented in contemporary science writing or science journalism, if we do not have a standardized method of assessing it? For this purpose, I would like to propose the following checklist of points that can be addressed in news articles or blog-posts which... Read more

‘Infotainment’ and Critical Science Journalism

Posted 19 May 2013 by Jalees Rehman

I recently wrote an op-ed piece for the Guardian in which I suggested that there is too much of an emphasis on ‘infotainment’ in contemporary science journalism and there is too little critical science journalism. The response to the article was unexpectedly strong, provoking some hostile comments on Twitter, and some of the most angry comments seem to indicate a misunderstanding of the core message. One of the themes that emerged in response to the article was the Us-vs.-Them perception... Read more

Transparency Is Not A One-Way Mirror

Posted 24 April 2013 by Jalees Rehman

An editorial in the journal Nature published on April 24, 2013 announces an important new step in the scientific peer review process for manuscripts that are being submitted to Nature and other Nature research journals. Authors of scientific manuscripts will now be required to fill out a checklist before they can submit their work to the journal. The title of the editorial, "Announcement: Reducing our irreproducibility", reveals the goal of this new step - addressing the problem of irreproducibility that... Read more

Are Scientists Divided Over Divining Rods?

Posted 25 February 2013 by Jalees Rehman

When I read a statement which starts with "Scientists are divided over......", I expect to learn about a scientific controversy involving scientists who offer distinct interpretations or analyses of published scientific data. This is not uncommon in stem cell biology. For example, scientists disagree about the differentiation capacity of adult bone marrow stem cells. Some scientists are convinced that these adult stem cells have a broad differentiation capacity and that a significant proportion can turn into heart cells or brain... Read more

The ENCODE Controversy And Professionalism In Science

Posted 24 February 2013 by Jalees Rehman

The ENCODE (Encyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project received quite a bit of attention when its results were publicized last year. This project involved a very large consortium of scientists with the goal to identify all the functional elements in the human genome. In September 2012, 30 papers were published in a coordinated release and their extraordinary claim was that roughly 80% of the human genome was "functional". This was in direct contrast to the prevailing view among molecular biologists that the... Read more

Some Highlights of the Live Chat: “Are We Doing Science the Right Way?”

Posted 8 February 2013 by Jalees Rehman

On February 7, 2013, ScienceNOW organized a Live Chat with the microbiologists Ferric Fang and Arturo Casadevall that was moderated by the Science staff writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel and discussed a very broad range of topics related to how we currently conduct science. For those who could not participate in the Live Chat, I will summarize some key comments made by Fang and Casadevall, Couzin-Frankel or other commenters.   I have grouped the comments into key themes and also added some... Read more