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Institutionalized Plagiarism

By | August 2, 2004

During the Dark Ages a guild of professional assassins, rogues, and thieves willfully misled inquiries as to the guilt of fellow associates in order to exonerate them of their crimes. Although this behavior probably originated with the dawn of humanity, the thieves' guild was first to codify the dastardly practice. Centuries later, gangsters and professional mobsters, typified by Lucky Luciano and John Dillinger, exploited the tenets of the thieves' code of silence so successfully that it permea


Intellectual Property Rights and the Public Good

By | July 19, 2004

Courtesy of Dr. Ronald Phillips, U. of MinnesotaThe granting of intellectual property rights is intended to stimulate innovation. The twin goals of encouraging innovation and promoting access to inventions require a balancing act between the scope of protection and limits on proprietary rights. In the United States and elsewhere, the government subsidizes research extensively.For developing countries, access to new products, particularly drugs and seeds, is often a question of life and death. Th


Society Publishers Provide More Than Open Access

By | July 5, 2004

Brad FitzpatrickAlively and sometimes acrimonious discussion is raging in scientific and publishing circles over the issue of "open access" to the content of scientific journals, where all papers published in a journal are available, at no charge, to everyone from the day they appear in print. Under this model, the costs associated with publishing are borne solely by the authors, or more likely by their funding sources; readers do not pay for access.The American Society for Biochemistry and Mole


In Italy, a committee comprising three members grants tenured positions atthe lowest level, namely research assistant professor. These committees draw members from two sources: The institution that makes the position available nominates one person, and the others are elected, at the national level, by professors in the field. National regulations require that the applicants submit a limited number of published papers. The universities specify the number; the applicants choose which papers are su


The Myth of Delayed Recognition

By | June 7, 2004

Brad FitzpatrickMost scientists can name an example of an important discovery that had little initial impact on contemporary research. Mendel's work is a classic example.12 The phenomenon of delayed recognition is sometimes invoked in disputes about the validity of citation analysis in evaluating scientists. However, as bibliometricians know, actual examples of delayed recognition are rare.To identify such papers and to shed some light on their role in scientific communication, we analyzed progr



By | May 24, 2004

Brad FitzpatrickScience and technology have been enlisted in the fight against terrorism. The US Department of Homeland Security is investing over $1 billion per year in R&D. The National Institutes of Health is devoting even more, nearly 6% of its $28 billion R&D budget. US universities, national laboratories, and industrial R&D establishments all have become involved. While the nation is calling on the scientific community to serve these vital missions, it is also implementing poli


Remarkable Research, Humble Conditions

By | May 10, 2004

Brad FitzpatrickThe Balkan region, so frequently engulfed in wars, is not considered a fertile ground for scientific research. Each generation in the former Yugoslavia is disturbed by at least one war. Despite the odds, quite a few properly educated, wise, and brave Yugoslav minds have made significant scientific contributions.Scientists need to communicate freely and regularly with all members of the scientific community. They must have free access to foreign scientific innovations, including n


Are Pharmaceutical Company Mergers Rational?

By | April 26, 2004

Brad FitzpatrickAfter decades of relative stability, pharmaceutical industry mergers burgeoned about 15 years ago in three distinct waves. The first occurred in the late 1980s/early 1990s, the second happened a few years later, and the third at the beginning of this century. The first wave involved Bristol-Myers Squibb and Smith-Kline Beecham. The second saw: in 1994, American Home Products join with Ayerst and Wyeth, two subsidiaries that had been run independently; in 1995, Glaxo Wellcome, Pha


Handling Human Samples Is Worth the Risk

By | April 12, 2004

Brad FitzpatrickJust recently, our university's Biosafety Committee told the faculty that we must discontinue certain laboratory exercises. The long list includes human blood, blood products, body fluids (cerebrospinal, synovial, pleural, pericardial, peritoneal, and amniotic fluids, saliva, and urine), contaminated needles, pathological wastes, microbiological wastes, and unfixed human tissues and organs.We think that this decision, based on safety reasons that we can appreciate, is wrong. To q


The Digitization of Museum Specimens

By | March 29, 2004

Brad FitzpatrickNatural history museum collections contain a world of knowledge thatcan be used to support the needs of science and society. We need to develop the infrastructure, technology, and collaborative framework to make these collections electronically available to a worldwide audience.These museums contain specimens and data collected over hundreds of years. Researchers can use these collections to understand the past and predict future environmental scenarios. At the moment, the collec


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