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Kate Travis

Around the Web, January 21, 2011

I’ve got a rather conservative list of stuff for you this week:

Those of you who blog, Tweet, participate in social networks, and so on may have seen buzz this week about the Science Online conference (Twitter hashtag: #scio11), held last weekend in North Carolina. I wasn’t there (though I have been to Science Online London the past two years), so I won’t attempt to report on the surely excellent topics discussed there. But, as is often the case for a meeting of people who contribute regularly to the Interwebs, you can learn a lot by perusing the Web site, wiki, tweets, and videos of sessions. I do know at least two of our correspondents were there and there will be a forthcoming Science Careers article from the meeting. Stay tuned.

One tweet I did pick up on from #scio11 noted a new list of so called Diversity Bloggers, assembled by the folks at Their list includes our very own Micella Phoenix DeWhyse, whose column was a blog of sorts before blogs were en vogue.

Late last week, The Times’ science magazine Eureka hosted a Eureka Live event at the Wellcome Collection on women in science. I was gutted to miss the event, as two of the speakers are among my favorites to listen to on this topic. They are Athene Donald, Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge, and Ottoline Leyser, Professor of Biology at the University of York. Leyser is a recent winner of the Rosalind Franklin Award, and with her prize she put together “Mothers in Science: 64 ways to have it all” (free PDF download).

Fortunately, blogger Della wrote a summary of the event, touching on the themes of parenthood, competitiveness, social cues, and perception. Donald herself wrote a follow-up post on her own blog specifically on the theme of confidence, as the idea that women lack confidence in their credentials came up at the Eureka Live event. But in her post, Donald keeps the discussion gender-neutral and offers advice on confidence in presentations, job interviews, etc. “The key thing if you do lack self-confidence is not to let it undermine your accomplishments, but learn to fake an inner strength when in public,” she concludes.

That’s probably more than you wanted to know about what I did *not* do in the last week. In early February you’ll hear about what’s keeping me chained to my desk. Meanwhile, here are a few more interesting links:

On the research misconduct beat, the British Medical Journal this week published its third (and last) installment of journalist Brian Deer’s investigation into Andrew Wakefield and misconduct in his research attempting to link the MMR vaccine and autism. “Thirteen years later, we are only now beginning to understand the root causes of the multiple system failures involved in the Wakefield incident,” writes Douglas J. Opel of Seattle Children’s Research Institute in a related editorial. “We must strengthen our ability to investigate research-adverse events. We need to use the tools and techniques available to protect the safety of patients in the clinical realm to protect research subjects. We also need to rethink and reform our customs and culture. The disastrous impact that Wakefield’s study has had on vaccine coverage, recrudescence of disease, public trust, and, most of all, science, requires that we do so in haste.”

The Duke Chronicle published an article looking at recently released documents in the misconduct case against Anil Potti, formerly a cancer genomics researcher at Duke. “According to the documents, the National Cancer Institute continued to raise questions about the research and its use as justification for clinical trials at Duke even after a Duke review concluded in late December 2009 that the trials could continue,” the article states. “The information in the NCI documents is another indication of the growing doubts about Potti’s research in the months leading up to his suspension and resignation.” Science covered some of the issues in August; Nature published an extensive article last week.

If you haven’t already checked it out, I highly recommend this week’s Science Careers article Balancing Professional Aspirations With Family, in which our European editor Elisabeth Pain talks to neuroscientist John Apergis-Schoute about putting family before his scientific career.