1) Retractions in the scientific literature seem to be more common now than 10 years ago. How often are articles being retracted? How many retractions are due to outright fraud, compared with possible "sloppiness," as in use of a bad cell line, technical problems, or other unintentional mistakes? Should scientists worry about what they read in the literature now or do you think scientists should always be skeptical of what they read?

Published in COMPASS Points

It is truly alarming to see the sharp increase in retractions in the scientific literature due to misconduct such as outright fraud and data falsification. To put the rising trend in perspective, the number of articles retracted due to misconduct, rather than errors, has increased ~10-fold since 1975 [1]. Multiple studies have tried to explain this distressing trend by providing information on the numbers of scientists who knowingly committed misconduct (for examples, see [2-5]), studying the patterns in retractions from different journals [6], or even analyzing details about the scientists committing misconduct [3]. However, I believe a look at the causes is necessary in order to battle this epidemic.

Published in COMPASS Points

"I study tiny things that are man and woman parts of an animal. The woman part talks and the man part listens. The tiny things have a conversation so that they can find each other and make babies. Some man things are better at listening than others. I want to know if the man things that are better at listening are also better at making babies."

Published in COMPASS Points
Friday, 04 October 2013 00:00

3D printing: Cell Biology and Beyond!

What is 3D printing?
3D printing is the process of printing a three-dimensional object from a computer-generated model. It utilizes an additive process whereby successive layers of materials are laid upon each other in a sequential manner and a solid 3D object is "printed" to life. One can print simple objects such as toys, coffee cups, etc. or extremely complex ones such as electronic devices, bicycles, guns and human organs like kidneys, heart and bladder.

Published in COMPASS Points
Friday, 27 September 2013 00:00

An Invisible-Becoming-Visible Minority?

We recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr's I Have a Dream speech. A critical step towards civil rights was established at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Fifty years later, we are seeing in real time the fastest civil rights movement in history. In 1996, only 27% of Americans agreed that those in same-sex marriages should have the same rights as traditional marriages. In 2013, this number is 53% [1].

Published in COMPASS Points
Friday, 20 September 2013 00:00

What Is ASCB’s Celldance?

When I first heard of the ASCB Celldance contest, I thought it might involve an interpretative dance, so I steered clear of it. But it's actually a great chance for grad students and post-docs to make use of their beautiful scientific movies for cash prizes, and the guidelines are extremely simple. Any ASCB member can submit their very own movies (4 minutes max) that illustrate a cellular process in an educational way.

Published in COMPASS Points
Thursday, 12 September 2013 00:00

How to Use Prezi to Make a Dynamic ePoster Talk

ePoster talks are an exciting new format being debuted this year at ASCB. During normal poster sessions, selected posters will be displayed on large monitors in meeting rooms for 30 minutes each. Following this, presenters will give a 3-4 minute run-through of their posters, which are required to incorporate multimedia content.

Whether you've been selected to present an ePoster this year or are looking to adapt this format for use at your own meeting, you're probably wondering what tools are at your disposal.

Published in COMPASS Points
Friday, 06 September 2013 00:00

What I Really Learned in Graduate School

I learned a lot in graduate school. I learned about receptor tyrosine kinases, and oncogenic transformation, and how to do a western blot. But more importantly, I learned about myself, and I acquired many skills that help me to be not only a better scientist, but to be more engaged and successful in life. Here I have compiled several COMPASS members' ideas on some of the most valuable lessons they learned in graduate school – and many extend far beyond the laboratory.

Published in COMPASS Points
Friday, 30 August 2013 00:00

The Revolution of Online Education

I successfully designed my spaceship to blast oncoming meteors out of the way, when I realized that my code was sick. I was taking "An Introduction to Python" online through Coursera (described below). The course was offered from Rice University and it consisted of about four 10- to 15-minute video lectures each week with two quizzes and a mini-project due every Saturday. The mini-project was especially challenging; the assignment was to program a game, and as the course progressed, the games became harder. The final exam was to program a version of Asteroids—complete with a moving spaceship that could fire at rocks and make them explode.

Published in COMPASS Points
Friday, 23 August 2013 00:00

Hack Your Science

As the media constantly remind us, "hackers" are typing very fast in an effort to steal your identity and co-opt your website to display pictures of dinosaurs wearing hats.

Published in COMPASS Points
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