"Men are only so good as their technical developments allow them to be."--George Orwell,
Inside the Whale and Other Essays, 1940
There are numerous awards and prizes for scientific achievement, and rightly so. Today's researchers are heavily dependent on sophisticated laboratory equipment, specialized software, and electronic access to databases. Orwell's maxim has never been so relevant. Yet recognizing excellence in the provision of these services has been remarkably lacking.
That omission is corrected today with The Scientist Readers' Choice Awards. Over a span of six weeks, researchers who visited The Scientist's Web site were invited to vote for their favorite lab equipment, software package, kit provider, Web site, technical support, design, and gadget. The result: An inventory, which can be found on page 45, of outstanding products and services from sagacious companies and organizations. The awards will be presented at the American Society for Cell Biology meeting in San Francisco in mid-December. Congratulations to the winners!
We would like to thank all those readers who took the time to complete the voting forms. Because the votes came from product users, practical features such as reliability, facility, adaptability, response speed and cost-effectiveness would have played an important role alongside the less tangible quality of innovation. Thus, the awards are for usable, tried-and-true technologies. It is your involvement that provides this credibility, which can only come from within the scientific community itself.
What are the benefits of such prizes? Well, everyone loves a bit of credit. For the winners, there's the feel-good factor, imbuing staff with a sense of achievement and pride while conferring prestige and enhanced credibility on the company or organization. For the scientific community, it is a chance to acknowledge the contribution that equipment manufacturers and service providers make to the ongoing vigor of today's research, as well as to recognize excellence. And for The Scientist, it provides an opportunity to entertain and inform our readers while providing value to our advertisers.
In just this vein, please see another article in this issue, "Lab Holiday Wish List" on page 45. Here, instead of surveying current products and services, we asked for suggestions for the most useful and/or desirable future developments. So if, in a couple of years hence, a high-throughput image-scanning device is helping you work smarter, or a rapid patenting service is making your lab more productive, remember: You read it here first!
Best wishes for the holidays.
--Richard Gallagher, Editor