A New and Stunning Metric from NIH Reveals the Real Nature of Scientific Impact

What if I told you that nearly 90 percent of the publications which have profoundly influenced the life sciences did not appear in a high-impact factor journal? If you signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, you probably aren’t surprised. If you haven’t signed DORA, it…

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What Cell Biologists Can Learn from Google Cars

Computer engineers have served up some unimaginable surprises. Just as the steam engine (in particular the highly efficient ve…

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A False Sense of Precision—What Happens to Journal Impact Factor (JIF) Rankings When You Drop a Decimal Place?

The current world’s record in the 100-meter dash, held by the Jamaican runner Usain Bolt, is 9.58 seconds. Actually Bolt ran it in 9.572 seconds but the rules require rounding up to two decimal places. And yet in the 100-meter dash, a third decimal place can make a big difference at the finish lin…

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Anti-Vaxxers and the Failure of Science Communication

As a child growing up in Italy in the 1960s, I had measles. In those days, pretty much everybody had measles at some point because the virus is so infectious that 90% of those who come in contact with the virus contract the disease. The virus stays suspended in the air for several hours. For the non…

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Colliding Worlds—A Rare Visit to the CERN Collider Gives a Biologist New Hope

Last week, I was invited to speak about research and innovation at an Aspen Institute meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, held at the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, better known to the rest of the world by its acronym, CERN. Like all Aspen Institute meetings, this one flew at a high lev…

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Watching Train Wrecks

Along with the future of U.S. research science, the train wreck metaphor has suffered terribly in recent days. Politicians and pundits had already twisted the metaphor during the federal government shutdown into a cliché about bad stuff happening that’s someone else’s fault. Now with the edge o…

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