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This Week in Nature: Jan 5, 2012

In Nature Reviews Genetics this week, the University of Montpellier's Robert Feil and the Centro Nacional de Biotecnología's Mario Fraga discuss emerging patterns in epigenetics and the environment. The duo says that though they remain largely unknown, mechanistic insights being made in model systems may help researchers elucidate human epigenetics.

Over in this week's Nature, Jerome Ravetz at the University of Oxford contemplates how the community's quality-assurance system — "peer review, publication and replication" — might keep up with changes to the social practice of science driven by, technological advances, among other things. Changes thus far have been evident, he says:

The rise of digital media has revolutionized the management of information and created opportunities for broader involvement in science's production. Collaborations are growing ever larger, transforming the concept of authorship. Prepublication discussions of research on blogs dilute a principal author's claim to discovery. And the public is increasingly involved.

Ravetz wonders whether in the future, as more scientists and non-scientists alike take part in research discussions online, quality might suffer. "Amid all the uncertainties of science in the digital age, if quality assurance is to be effective, this lesson of civility will need to be learned by us all," he writes.

Elsewhere in the issue, 10 researchers contribute their advice on how scientific plagiarism might be stopped. Harold Garner suggests that the community ought to flag plagiarized studies, while Yuehong Zhang and Ian McIntosh say repeat offenders should be blacklisted.

The Scan

Fertility Fraud Found

Consumer genetic testing has uncovered cases of fertility fraud that are leading to lawsuits, according to USA Today.

Ties Between Vigorous Exercise, ALS in Genetically At-Risk People

Regular strenuous exercise could contribute to motor neuron disease development among those already at genetic risk, Sky News reports.

Test Warning

The Guardian writes that the US regulators have warned against using a rapid COVID-19 test that is a key part of mass testing in the UK.

Science Papers Examine Feedback Mechanism Affecting Xist, Continuous Health Monitoring for Precision Medicine

In Science this week: analysis of cis confinement of the X-inactive specific transcript, and more.