Monthly Archives: October 2008


Using the Google PageRank algorithm as an alternative citation metric

Posted 30 October 2008 by Noah Gray

The Journal of Neuroscience is publishing a series of invited commentaries exploring the current use of impact metrics to measure scientific achievement (and how misleading the metrics can be) and what alternatives may be available. I’m sure that this will give us plenty to discuss over the coming weeks. The first piece explores a modification of Google’s PageRank algorithm. The authors call this “CiteRank”. ... Read more

The neuroscience gossip mill: Who’s movin’?

Posted 27 October 2008 by Noah Gray

In today’s episode of the “NGM” (neuroscience gossip mill – try and keep up people…), let’s discuss recent moves. This includes those that are official and those that are, well let’s just say the ink may not yet be dry on the paperwork. I’ll start with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, since many know that the faculty search there is a topic near and dear to my heart. ... Read more

Author contribution quantification [or] Placing false authority

Posted 24 October 2008 by Noah Gray

In a letter to Science last week, Dr. Cagan Sekercioglu proposed a plan to quantify the amount of work conducted by each author on a paper, so as to have a better gauge of the role played by each contributor. This would, I assume, be in addition to the “author contributions” paragraph that many publications now list with manuscripts, something Nature started on a voluntary basis almost 10 years ago. Although I have argued for better quantifiable measures of impact... Read more

Can you define consciousness?

Posted 22 October 2008 by Noah Gray

Nature News ran a feature this week about disputed definitions. One of these was a no-brainer…consciousness (ouch, I know). There are very few topics that can engage both scientists and the public alike as determining an appropriate definition for consciousness. And almost nobody can provide a satisfactory answer. The current protocol used in hospitals to identify whether someone exists in a vegetative state involves a series of behavioral tests in which the subject is supposed to respond to stimuli and... Read more

How to cool off hot results

Posted 15 October 2008 by Noah Gray

In this week’s Nature, Vincent Detours raises the concern that the now-common practice of publishing papers online ahead of print (AOP in Nature-speak) has the potential to leave high profile results dangling out in public without any level-headed, calm and cool commentary to guide the ensuing media consumption of the hot result. He therefore suggests that “editorial comments” should accompany any controversial findings, to place the matter in context and to act as an informative back-up to the press release.... Read more

Recklessness from the conservative

Posted 10 October 2008 by Noah Gray

I just had to get this out there because at the end of this piece, Friedman essentially listed all of the arguments I gave to my mother two nights ago when we had a nice “friendly” political discussion about her ill-advised support for one particular candidate. I am still insulted that John McCain decided it was best for the country (WRONG!! Best for his campaign to highjack support from the moral conservatives…) to put forth this particular ticket as one... Read more

Poster session paparazzi

Posted 9 October 2008 by Noah Gray

There has been a slow, but steadily-growing poster session photography movement that started well before the Web 2.0 revolution. As a graduate student, each year when I strolled around the poster session at my favorite meeting, I began to see more and more people walking around with cameras. Not that conspicuous at first, until I saw many using their cameras for uses other than documenting their attendance for the expense reimbursement office. These photographers were snapping shots of posters, usually... Read more

What happens when an anatomist has too much time to kill

Posted 7 October 2008 by Noah Gray

Biology and anatomy students often have the same initial question when they start the dissection portion of the school curriculum: ‘What cognitive side-effects might occur from long-term formaldehyde exposure?’ Having just finished Home Economics class, the immediate second question on their minds might be: ‘How can I combine my love for arts and crafts with science?’ The blog Why would you knit that?! has an answer to both questions: Thanks to Adam Rutherford for pointing this out. ... Read more

“Neuro Forum” – Involving the next generation of neurophysiologists

Posted 6 October 2008 by Noah Gray

In a recent editorial, David Linden, the newish Chief Editor at J Neurophysiology, introduced his readership to an original section in his journal entitled “Neuro Forum”. The design is based on the “Journal Club” series started in 2006 by J Neuroscience and is supposed to be penned by younger scientists (students and post-docs). To differentiate Neuro Forum from the J Neurosci Journal Club, authors will be able to comment on any paper from any journal published within the previous 3... Read more