Of Schemes and Memes Blog

Best of nature.com blogs, SciLogs.com and Scitable: 13 – 19 July

Predators in the publishing jungle

In this week’s Soapbox Science post, Ian Woolley asks how to identify “predatory publishers”:

The phrase “predatory publishing” doesn’t project a lot of goodwill, either as a characteristic of the publisher or of the person who is classifying them. Jeffrey Beall is an academic librarian at the University of Colorado who publishes a blog “Scholarly Open Access”, recently featured in a much debated article in the New York Times and a wide-ranging report in Nature. Titles of recent posts include “The onslaught of questionable open access journal continues unabated”, “new open access publisher launches with 66 journal titles” and “another society journal hijacked”. He clearly feels passionately about these issues. The first edition of his criteria for determining predatory open access publishers was uploaded in August 2012, and a new version in December; his decisions are made partly on the basis of colleagues who have “shared information”. 

Do you agree with Ian’s thoughts? If so share your comments in the thread. 

UK medical research regulators spared the axe

The future of the two UK regulating bodies for human-embryo and human-tissue research has been safeguarded, as the UK government announced this week that the bodies will continue to exist. Daniel Cressey explains more in the News Blog:

Back in 2010 the government said that it would axe the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which regulates research on human embryos and fertility treatment. The Human Tissue Authority (HTA), which regulates other human tissue research and organ donation, was also to be wound up. The proposals were unpopular with many researchers, and earlier this year the Department of Health announced that instead it would commission an independent review to see whether the two bodies could be merged.

That review — published yesterday — found that there was “relatively little overlap” in the work of the two regulators and they should continue as separate bodies. This outcome has been accepted by the government.

Continue to Daniel’s post to find out more.

Tweaking proteins for medicine

Every Wednesday, the Indigenus Blog hosts an ‘Away from home’ blog series features one Indian postdoc working in a foreign lab recounting his/her experience of working there. This week’s post features Anupam Goel, an alumnus of Meerut Institute of Engineering and Technology in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh:

Anupam is researching protein interactions at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, USA as a postdoctoral associate now. In future, he hopes to sell recombinant proteins/enzymes for application in several emergency medical situations in India.

Anupam Goel, pursuing one of his many interests beyond research.

Find out more about Anupam in his post. You can also join in the online conversation using the #postdochat hashtag.

Monsanto drops bid to have GM crops approved in Europe

Biotech giant Monsanto is abandoning attempts to get more genetically modified crops onto the European market. Daniel Cressey elaborates in the News Blog:

The company’s move follows the high profile retreat from Europe by another GM biotech firm, BASF, in 2012.

“We will no longer be pursuing approvals for cultivation of new biotech crops in Europe,” the St Louis, Missouri-based company said in an email statement. “Instead, we will focus on enabling imports of biotech crops into the EU and the growth of our current business there.”

The company says it is withdrawing all its pending applications in Europe for GM crops, which consist of 6 types of corn, a soybean and a sugarbeet.

Further information can be found in Daniel’s post. 

State of science in non-Arab Spring states

Mohammed Yahia explains in the House of Wisdom Blog how the Arab Spring brought much hope for a science renaissance that would drive development across a region that has been rather stagnant for too long. However, for countries that overthrew their regimes, this has not yet fully materialized due to ongoing instability and turmoil:


Yet the ripples from these countries have spread far and wide to neighbouring countries that did not topple their leaders or monarchs. In a long feature published this week, SciDev.Net explores the effect of the Arab Spring on four of these countries: Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, and Sudan.

In Morocco, waves of protests spread across the country in February 2011 after the Egyptians protests toppled Mubarak in Egypt. They continued on four some four months, with angry young people protesting the increasing unemployment among younger people. This led the monarch to accelerate reform that focused on science research and linked it to industry to spur development. 

You can read SciDev.Net’s full article on this here.

How Monkeys and Pigs are Changing the Way Scientists View Ebola

Scott Camazine (via Encyclopædia Britannica Online )

Scitable blogger Julia Paoli looks at the Ebola virus and how monkeys and pigs are changing the way scientists view the virus:

Along with monkeys, pigs have also been in the spotlight recently with regards to Ebola. Ebola’s natural host organism has not yet been identified, although, scientists hypothesize that the organism is a type of bat. However, a new study points to the fact that pigs, in addition to bats, may be an Ebola host. A 2009 outbreak of Ebola Reston in the Philippines shed new light on Ebola’s natural host. Multiple pigs in the Philippines had tested positive for Ebola Reston and had transmitted the virus to humans. Luckily, Ebola Reston is not fatal to humans so there were no human deaths. According to the paper “Ebola Reston Virus Infection of Pigs: Clinical Significance and Transmission Potential” published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases in 2011, the discovery of Ebola Reston in pigs is significant because it “may indicate [the] emergence of a filovirus (the family of viruses Ebola belongs to) in a new mammalian host.” 

Learn more about the Ebola virus in Julia’s post. 

The costs of human bones 

SciLogs blogger Kerstin Hoppenhaus links out to a Twitter-conversation that caught her attention this week:

The costs of human bones – A conversation on Twitter › I, EVA

Access to specimens and casts is much more complicated than it seems at first glance. Continue to Kerstin’s post to hear more thoughts from Twitter.

Photo of the Week: I’ve got my Eyes on you!

Finally, the photo of the week is from SciLogs blogger Paige Brown.

Does anyone know what type of spider this is? I’m guessing a type of Orb Weaver… or a grass spider? 

Photo by Paige Brown, http://paigesphotos.photoshelter.com/.

Leave your suggestions in the comment thread.


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