The business of universities

Universities are strange two-headed beasts: they are places where much of the research we publish is conducted, but they are also educational institutes, whose job is to train students (not all of whom go on to become scientists, or necessarily contribute to the research side of the enterprise). Added to the mix now is that many universities are now effectively businesses, having to provide their own operating revenues in the face of tighter funding.  Read more

Focus on childhood developmental disorders

Some of you have (hopefully) noticed that our October issue is fatter than normal, with a special focus on childhood developmental disorders. Four specially commissioned perspectives in this issue explore dyslexia, autism, specific language impairment and Fragile X syndrome, as well as the commonalities between these disorders and the overlap between normal and abnormal development. This is a large and often somewhat contentious field, but we hope that these articles stimulate thought and act as a spur for further research. Thanks to our sponsors, the content of the article is freely available through December 2006 here. Here are the links to the individual articles which make up this focus:  … Read more

The right to pro-test

Demonstrations by animal rights activists are unfortunately nothing new, but there was an interesting demonstration last weekend in Oxford, UK. This one also had lots of placard waving about animal research, catchy slogans, and yes, a strong police presence. The message however was very different: this was actually a demonstration in favor of animal testing.  Read more

Science and the media

Unlike Annette, I’m a relative newcomer to the US of A, and I’m still fairly attached to my old stomping ground in the UK. And there is a knock-down, drag-out battle developing in the newspaper pages there about a scientific issue that I for one had thought was long gone: the link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The debate of course goes back to the Lancet paper by Andrew Wakefield way back in 1998, which suggested a link between the triple measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism (though the authors were careful to say that they had not established a causal link). This was followed by a precipitous drop in MMR vaccination in the UK, but in 2004, ten of the original co-authors of paper issued a ‘retraction of interpretation’ of the original paper in the face of increasing doubts about the results and the ethical conduct of the study.  Read more

Publishing in Nature Journals

Following up on interesting things happening at SFN, our chief editor Sandra Aamodt (along with Nature and Nature Reviews Neuroscience editors) gave a talk on Monday on publishing in Nature journals. One of the aims of the talk was to give people a better idea about exactly what happens to a paper once it has been submitted to us. The whole editorial process can sometimes appear to be a bit mysterious, and we are hoping to take away some of the mystery in this talk. Did we succeed? Did you find this talk useful? Feedback welcome!  Read more