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Quantification Quandary

Michael Nielsen says it's "very, very difficult for even the best scientists to accurately assess the value of scientific discoveries," which partly explains why some of the most influential revelations — like Einstein's theory of gravity — "were initially underappreciated." Despite their participation in a discipline so deeply vested in metrics and statistical significance, scientists have not yet determined the best way to judge the value of research, Nielsen says. Still, while "it may be near-impossible to accurately evaluate scientific work, as a practical matter we are forced to make such evaluations," he says. "Every time a committee decides to award or decline a grant, or to hire or not hire a scientist, they are making a judgment about the relative worth of different scientific work." In an essay on his blog, Nielsen suggests that "heavy reliance on a small number of metrics," such as h-index values and citation counts, "is bad for science."

The Scan

NFTs for Genome Sharing

Nature News writes that non-fungible tokens could be a way for people to profit from sharing genomic data.

Wastewater Warning System

Time magazine writes that cities and college campuses are monitoring sewage for SARS-CoV-2, an approach officials hope lasts beyond COVID-19.

Networks to Boost Surveillance

Scientific American writes that new organizations and networks aim to improve the ability of developing countries to conduct SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance.

Genome Biology Papers on Gastric Cancer Epimutations, BUTTERFLY, GUNC Tool

In Genome Biology this week: recurrent epigenetic mutations in gastric cancer, correction tool for unique molecular identifier-based assays, and more.