Impact factors, ouch!

Bruce Alberts, Editor-in-Chief of Science, wrote an editorial last month on why journal impact factors should not be used to judge the work of individual scientists. Among other things, the distribution of paper citations is so skewed that the mean number of citations per paper in a journal is essentially meaningless, and the two-year time window used to calculate journal impact factors introduces a bias in favour of some fields of research and against others. The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment of 2012/2013 requests, among other things, that agencies “do not use journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an individual scientist’s contributions, or in hiring, promotion, or funding decisions.”

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Blogroll: PhD Comics

PhD Comics, one of the blogs I follow, isn’t just great humour; it also has a fantastic series of 2-minute PhD theses. The most recent is on defences against herbivores in Zea mays – against very hungry caterpillars, in fact. See below for the video version of the 2-minute thesis – a great example of communicating science simply and well, from Elvira De Lange and PhD Comics.

Blogroll: Assembling my Network

Assembling my Network, one of the blogs I follow, is running a series of posts about network analysis using the igraph package of R (see Part I of III and Part II of III). I’ve expressed myself elsewhere on how useful R is (the diagram below is just one example), and these posts do a very good job of explaining the network-related aspects of R.

Update 1: see also the sequels: More food web plotting with R and Part III of III. The latter post looks at the Otago Harbour intertidal mudflat food web which I have posted about before. There will surely be more posts about R and food webs to look forward to on this blog.

Update 2: this content is now also on a page at this blog, for more convenient access.

Blogroll: Lab Life

Lab Life is a recently started blog by three biology undergraduates (Elizabeth, Nicole, and Shannon) in the North Carolina State University Research PackTrack. They plan on blogging about their research experiences – which makes their blog a great resource for young people thinking about a scientific career.