Category Archives: Publish/Perish

Links: Spidey suits, and tips on writing papers

Science Daily: Physicists have found a formula for a Spiderman suit.

Chemical & Engineering News: Tips for writing a journal article.


Some materials links

Invisible electronics.

To create their thin-film transistors, [Tobin J. ] Marks’ group [at Northwestern] combined films of the inorganic semiconductor indium oxide with a multilayer of self-assembling organic molecules that provides superior insulating properties.

Synthetic Gecko materials that mimics “microscopic hairs on a gecko foot”. It is “made of layers covered with thousands of stalks with splayed tips made of a polyimide, a synthetic like Nylon.”

Metamaterials with negative refractive index:

[Gunnar] Dolling’s metamaterial is made by depositing a layer of silver on a glass sheet, covering this with a thin layer of nonconducting magnesium fluoride, followed by another silver layer, forming a sandwich 100 nm thick. Dolling then etched an array of square holes through the sandwich to create a grid, similar to a wire mesh.

A key advance in Flexible electronics:

The trick to being able to manufacture—rather than handcraft—large arrays of single-crystal transistors was to devise a method for printing patterns of transistors on surfaces such as silicon wafers and flexible plastic. The first step is to put electrodes on these surfaces wherever a transistor is desired. Then the researchers make a stamp with the desired pattern out of a polymer called polydimethylsiloxane. After coating the stamp with a crystal growth agent called octadecyltriethoxysilane (OTS) and pressing it onto the surface, the researchers can then introduce a vapor of the organic crystal material onto the OTS-patterned surfaces. The vapor will condense and grow semiconducting organic single crystals only where the agent lies. With the crystals bridging the electrodes, transistors are formed.

Finally, is open peer review experiment at Nature a failure?

War for open access publishing

Via Inside HigherEd: A US federal legislation would mandate making all academic publications available for free (presumably over the internet) some ‘n’ months after their original publication date. This legislation is being bitterly opposed by several professional societies (and in particular, by the American Chemical Society). Sometime ago, it found support from high officials of several groups of colleges and universities. And now, another group of high officials have opposed it.

This is one battle that’s worth keeping an eye on.

Here’s the Wikipedia entry on open access publishing. You migh also wish to read what Richard Vedder and Mark Thoma have to say.

Update: Peter Suber informs us (through his comment, below) that he has been following this issue on his blog Open Access News.

Depression, migraines and conflicts of interest

July 13:

The latest incident, disclosed in letters to the editor and a correction in Wednesday’s journal, involves a study showing that pregnant women who stop taking antidepressants risk slipping back into depression.

Most of the 13 authors have financial ties to drug companies including antidepressant makers, but only two of them revealed their ties when the study was published in February.

July 18:

the editor of The Journal of the American Medical Association said she was misled again, this time by the authors of a study linking severe migraines to heart attacks in women.

All six authors of the study have done consulting work or received research financing from makers of treatments for migraines or heart-related problems.

Here’s a profile of Dr. Catherine D. DeAngelis, the tough-talking chief editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

She is the first woman to edit the journal, commonly known as JAMA, in its 123-year history. Her résumé runs 25 pages, excluding minor details like these: On dull days she blasts the “William Tell Overture” across the cubicles, and the bird in her office ficus tree has a motion detector that makes visitors jump.


… Dr. DeAngelis said she had dug up conflicts she suspected, that she had questioned the authors, and that when she believed an author intended to deceive her, she asked that the author be disciplined by the dean of his or her medical school.

She also publishes corrections in which she names doctors who evade her rules. She said one such doctor from Harvard, whom she declined to name, called her in tears.

“This follows them the rest of their life,” Dr. DeAngelis said.

Further, she has tightened the journal’s guidelines, making authors sign statements that describe any possible conflicts.

“It’s very rare that it’s deliberate,” she said. “In most cases, they just don’t get it. But the rule is: You reveal, then let me or the other editors decide whether it’s relevant.”

Dr. Joseph B. Martin, dean of the Harvard Medical School, said he completely concurred with Dr. DeAngelis’s argument that doctors should disclose “more rather than less, and ideally everything.”

Dr. DeAngelis says she gets 6,000 submissions a year with an average of six authors each, and she cannot check them all. “I’m not the F.B.I.,” she said.

Asked if she could give the rules even more teeth, perhaps even arrange with editors of other top journals to blacklist cheaters, she said, “Have you ever heard of the Sherman Antitrust Act? I’ve talked to three lawyers about that. They all said: ‘You want to end up in jail? Don’t go there.’ ”

* * *

Benedict Carey’s commentary on willful non-disclosures by scientists who should know better is here. The NYTimes editorial on these recent revelations is here.

Nature’s experiment with ‘open’ peer review

Nature, a leading science journal, is conducting an interesting experiment wherein a paper’s authors can have it reviewed ‘openly’ — like comments in a blog! This would be in addition to the regular (anonymous) review process.

While I haven’t given it much thought, others have. Arunn Narasimhan (Mechanical Engineering, IIT-Madras) has a link-ful post examining this experiment from many angles.

Academic papers in Open Access journals receive better recognition

Here’s the abstract of the paper by Gunther Eysenbach.

Open access (OA) to the research literature has the potential to accelerate recognition and dissemination of research findings, but its actual effects are controversial. This was a longitudinal bibliometric analysis of a cohort of OA and non-OA articles published between June 8, 2004, and December 20, 2004, in the same journal (PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). Article characteristics were extracted, and citation data were compared between the two groups at three different points in time: at “quasi-baseline” (December 2004, 0–6 mo after publication), in April 2005 (4–10 mo after publication), and in October 2005 (10–16 mo after publication). Potentially confounding variables, including number of authors, authors’ lifetime publication count and impact, submission track, country of corresponding author, funding organization, and discipline, were adjusted for in logistic and linear multiple regression models. A total of 1,492 original research articles were analyzed: 212 (14.2% of all articles) were OA articles paid by the author, and 1,280 (85.8%) were non-OA articles. In April 2005 (mean 206 d after publication), 627 (49.0%) of the non-OA articles versus 78 (36.8%) of the OA articles were not cited (relative risk = 1.3 [95% Confidence Interval: 1.1–1.6]; p = 0.001). 6 mo later (mean 288 d after publication), non-OA articles were still more likely to be uncited (non-OA: 172 [13.6%], OA: 11 [5.2%]; relative risk = 2.6 [1.4–4.7]; p