Telling Science's Stories

In case you didn't realize it, biology is built on an oral tradition.

Steven Wiley
Jan 1, 2008

Recently, when I needed to understand the details of how the MAPK signal transduction pathway is regulated, I did what I believe most biologists would have done: I spent several weeks trying to dig the information out of over a dozen papers published during the last decade. Many of the papers contradicted each other, making it necessary to pick sides in scientific disputes that had long since died. So my picture of the science behind the pathway regulation was murky, at best. Fortunately, toward the end of this ordeal, I went to a scientific conference on receptor tyrosine kinase signaling attended by Walter Kolch and Rony Seger, two experts in the field. A 15-minute conversation with them provided the information that had eluded me for weeks.

Every biologist has been frustrated by an inability to find a specific piece of information in the literature. You are planning an experiment and...

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