Thursday, 29 August 2013

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Control Freak!!!

I'm going to try and post these whenever I encounter them. One of my gripes, as a scientist, is when anything is presented as a "scientific truth" but lacks the most basic of scientific principles - a control.
Without a control you have no idea what is actually causing an effect or whether the effect is merely the result of the experimental procedure itself. If your test is different from your control(s) then you can claim there is a significant difference.
I've touched on the subject before and think it's useful to try and point out other examples. It should hopefully appeal to the anally retentive scientists who read and help make non-scientists aware of the concept and allow them to be a little more cynical of "facts" that are presented to them on TV/media.

Does Science (research) Suck?

There is a great little article on The Guardian site where Kayleigh Dodd highlights issues that a lot of research scientists share. Myself included.

Kayleigh points out the plight of a research scientist is that they have a very limited shelf-life of about 8 years after their PhD where they essentially have to become a group leader or get out. The problem is that regardless of whether every postdoc were to publish yearly in Nature and/or Science they aren't all going to get their own lab. There simply isn't enough money, especially in the current climate, to allow for such exponential growth. So that leaves the vast majority of postdocs in a situation where they aren't going to be group leaders and therefore have to leave academic research and hopefully find some other career because permanent postdoc positions or senior lab manager positions are few and far between. So unless we have a scenario where everyone naturally moves into another job of their own choice we seem to have a pyramid scheme that throws you off if you don't reach the peak in time.