Best of Nature Network for Monday, June 23: Self-genotyping, Research Integrity, and the Drawbacks of Blogrolls

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Nature Network is an online meeting place for scientists all around the world, designed to facilitate discussion, form connections, and keep in touch. The following is the first in a weekly series of articles highlighting the best conversations on Nature Network. Check back here every Monday for a round-up of the previous week’s activity on Nature Network.

Euan Adie, a Nature Network blogger, brings to Nature Network the science blog buzz surrounding California’s recent cease and desist order targeting direct-to-consumer genotyping companies. Euan elaborates that two issues California legislators have with the genotyping companies are that “…that the labs they [genetic companies] outsource to aren’t always licensed and secondly that they’re breaking a Californian law that requires all genetic tests to be ordered by a physician.” The resulting discussion addresses whether physicians are good resources for interpreting genotyping results and whether the government should have the authority to legislate whether individuals can seek to sequence their own DNA.

Pub nights are expanding beyond the London and Boston hubs. New York Nature Network users came together for their third meet-up while Toronto hosted its first. The New York meet up brought together scientists from disciplines as disparate as neuroscience, computer science, and glaciology.

The organizers of The Source Event, a science career fair taking place in London on September 26, 2008 (organized by NatureJobs), have organized a question and answer forum in which attendees can ask speakers about their background and for advice on their own career direction. In one such exchange, Daniel Weekes, a cell biology post-doc, asks Jim Loftus, a research recruitment manager at Pfizer, how an academic researcher, “…how important is previous industrial experience when applying for a job in industry?”

The recent publication of a Nature commentary on research integrity and the prevalence of academic misconduct, prompted an in-depth discussion of the current framework of regulating scientific fraud and how it may be bettered. In a forum, Brendan Maher, a news editor with Nature, asks, “How could better policies push back against this seeming flood of misconduct?” The conversation continues on Richard Grant’s blog, The Scientist.

The pros and cons of maintaining blogrolls, or lists of links to other blogs, are discussed in the Nature Networks Bloggers Unite forum. Neil Saunders suggests that, “All I get from a blogroll is a very long list of blogs, with obscure titles telling me nothing about their content. Furthermore, a lot of them are likely to be inactive or dead, since the blogroll creator will have realised that maintenance is a complete pain.” Neil suggests that FriendFeed is a better option, while Heather Etchevers and Maxine Clarke volunteer wikis and Connotea as tools for maintaining a community NN group blogroll.

If you’d like to nominate a conversation you’ve read or taken part in on Nature Network for next week’s roundup, please email us at network [at]


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