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The Bloggers Retort


This month, bloggers respond to a number of issues: shaky peer-review, condemned geneticists, GINA, and even electronic notebooks.

Demanding Answers

Out on the Web, people are still wondering what was going on at the journal Proteomics to have Mohamad Warda and Jin Han's paper, entitled "Mitochondria, the missing link between body and soul: Proteomic prospective evidence," slip through the peer-review process. Though the paper was retracted — citing plagiarism as the reason — bloggers PZ Myers, Stephen Salzberg, Attila Csordás, and Lars Juhl Jensen find that inadequate. "The plagiarism is bad all right, but my main concern was that such a blatantly goofy paper made it through peer review. How?" writes Myers. The bloggers are awaiting an explanation from editor-in-chief Michael Dunn.

Listing Sins

Not only has the Vatican come up with new deadly sins that include genetic experimentation, bloggers have come up with their own set of deadly sins. Sciencebase's David Bradley made a list of deadly sins for scientists which includes plagiarism (and self-plagiarism), lying, vanity, and procrastination. Eye on DNA's Hsien-Hsien Lei focused her list on the deadly sins of genetics, including: believing that genes are deterministic, eugenics, fabricating results, and blogging about DNA. Bradley's readers also add working grad students too hard, inflating budget proposals, being a "smarty-pants," and having "delusions of competency" to the list.

Notebooks Minus the Paper

Derek Lowe and PhilipJ are impressed by digital lab notebooks. At In the Pipeline, Lowe writes that he can easily draw chemical structures and search for specific data, and at Biocurious, PhilipJ likes their ability to store digital images and bits of code — as well as being much more legible. At Omics! Omics!, Neil Saunders has a related post on how to think about data. If scientists can structure their data generically and coherently, he says, that will make using electronic notebooks a breeze.

Need Protection?

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act may have passed the US House of Representatives, but it's not yet law. Genetic Future's Daniel MacArthur blogs about what he considers a well-reasoned opposition opinion to the bill: that better information will lead to better management of risk. Texas, meanwhile, passed a new law that Jere Odell of PredictER says might make GINA more germane — the law requires that insurance companies give employees' health records to their employers. Odell points out that local media outlets in Texas are reporting that genetic test results are already protected, leading him to wonder what difference GINA will make.

The Scan

Pfizer-BioNTech Seek Full Vaccine Approval

According to the New York Times, Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking full US Food and Drug Administration approval for their SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Viral Integration Study Critiqued

Science writes that a paper reporting that SARS-CoV-2 can occasionally integrate into the host genome is drawing criticism.

Giraffe Species Debate

The Scientist reports that a new analysis aiming to end the discussion of how many giraffe species there are has only continued it.

Science Papers Examine Factors Shaping SARS-CoV-2 Spread, Give Insight Into Bacterial Evolution

In Science this week: genomic analysis points to role of human behavior in SARS-CoV-2 spread, and more.