Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Realization (of something I already knew…)

Sometimes it’s important to be reminded of things. Sometimes it’s most important to be reminded of things you already knew.

I actually dragged my sorry rump out of lab this afternoon to go to my program’s journal club. The paper being discussed was interesting (in principle), and it was from a lab where I’m interesting in doing a post doc. I also thought it was a good opportunity to work on my goal of being even a teensy bit more social.

At any rate, I was pretty excited about the paper. Actually sitting down and going through it though served to remind me that just because a group has a great reputation and just because the paper is in C/N/S doesn’t mean that the work is good. It doesn’t mean that the results are real or interesting or that the experiments were designed well or that the paper was even put together thoughtfully.

Actually making myself go to journal club reminded me of all that. It reminded me that given the right circumstances there’s a broad range of people that can publish in top tier journals. It also reminded me that publishing those types of paper or hailing from a lab with good name recognition and reputation doesn’t necessarily make you a great scientist.

Of course, I’ve known those things for a long time now, but sometimes it is good to be reminded.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Scoopage (and I don't mean ice cream)

We just got mega-scooped. An almost intact paper that Postdoc Guy left behind was just published basically figure for figure by another group with only the teeniest of differences. Hmph. Interestingly, the senior author was on the study section that reviewed the grant on this project. He was also the postdoc mentor of one of my committee members.

I’ve been giving Crazy Man a hard time about this paper ever since Postdoc Guy left. But nobody listens to me. It wasn’t my project, but I was an author because I did a few bits of data for it. In fact, it was in a system that I’ve been adamantly refusing to work on for years, maybe even the whole time I’ve been in grad school.

However (and there’s always a however)… I think I can rescue this paper. I’ve gradually been doing a little here and there with this system, despite my best efforts. And I have ideas! Crazy ideas, for experiments that I’m all poised to do. Crazy experiments that will be relatively easy to do, needed to be done anyway, and will really only mean adding an additional group to experiments that I was planning to do anyway!

Assuming these experiments go according to plan (snicker…when does that ever happen?), they would then become the bulk of the paper, it would be higher impact than it was before, and I would likely become first author. What are the chances this works?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Did you read the paper?

We just found out that GlamourMag manuscript was accepted! For the resubmission, they actually added an additional reviewer, purportedly to assess the validity of the mathematical arguments. Based on this reviewer’s comments, I told Crazy Man that I was fairly sure s/he hadn’t read the paper. At all.

At any rate, it was accepted, pending a few minor changes to address the final comments from the reviewers. Again, I really think this same reviewer didn’t even read the paper. This reviewer stated that it was important to point out that we argue that our system is better than previous systems for predicting biological function, but we didn’t include any functional data. And then I was like,

There’s a whole main figure that’s nothing but the correlation of our predictions with the actual functional data, and I believe there’s two supplementary figures that are also other measures of function. Which I know, because I DID ALL THE FUNCTIONAL ASSAYS. And the correlation of the prediction with the function is the whole point of the paper.

I sure am glad I don’t have to rebut those particular comments myself because I totally want to write to the editor and tell her to never, ever use this person as a reviewer again because they’re clearly a frickin’ idiot. Sheesh.