The Opposing Thumb

An opinionated digit leafs through the biological literature
Monday Morning Smörgåsbord

Monday Morning Smörgåsbord

Academic journals have a higher profit margin that almost any legal business. “This lucrative nature of academic publishing comes at a price–and that weight falls on the shoulders of the full higher education community which is already bearing the burden of significantly decreasing academic budgets. ‘A large research university will pay between $3-3.5 million a year in academic subscription fees –the majority of which goes to for-profit academic publishers'”. Jason Schmitt at the Huffington Post asks if they are also obsolete.

Some schadenfreude before the good will of New Year’s Day sets in: Adam Marcus & Ivan Oransky (aka Wham!, sorry, I mean Retraction Watch) at The Scientist on “The Top Ten Retractions of 2014″.

“One of the most striking features of the neuroscience literature is the contrast between the image of “thinking” presented there and our everyday experience.” Philip Ball at Prospect Magazine on all the big brain projects, and do they have a snowball’s chance in a Foreman Grill of solving any of the questions about mind that we’re all curious about.

“An astronaut who mixes up an orange drink for breakfast on Monday morning and urinates on Monday afternoon can use that same water, newly purified, to mix a fresh drink on Thursday.” Charles Fishman at The Atlantic on what 5200 days in space have taught us about supporting human life.

Just who the hell are you talking about? Barbara Migeon at eLife on scientists’ frequent failure to make clear what species they are studying. “For many years I have been surprised to see that the titles of many papers in my own field, X inactivation, do not indicate the mammalian species used for their research, implying that their evidence applies to all mammals. Many readers cannot help but assume that it does, even when other published evidence indicates that such an assumption is erroneous.”

“Lilliput Under the Sea”: Tim Flannery at the New York Review of Books on a volume of stunning images of marine invertebrates.

Bored with the the Holidays? Lock yourself in a car, basement or elevator with Ed Yong’s top science longreads of 2014 at Not Exactly Rocket Science.

It’s not over: Michelle Mello, Maria Merritt, and Scott Halpern at PLOS Medicine on supporting those who fight Ebola. “Some may be called to this crisis by its extraordinary scope and urgency. These motivations are not merely matters of personal conscience; they exemplify core values of the healthcare and public health professions that institutions and society should encourage.”

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