"The fact that we can keep 100 pandas in a zoo is not, on its own, a positive conservation outcome."

End the censorship of science

I completely agree with Richard Gallagher?s suggestion to open all correspondence to the public after a five-year interim.1 Maybe names are still held confidential but review comments and correspondence should not remain a secret. An open policy would discourage politically charged decisions and enable the best scientific work to reach the broader scientific community and public.

NA Christian
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA


1. R. Gallagher, ?End the censorship of science," The Scientist, 21(5):13, May 2007.

Panda conservation

In ?Year of the panda,"1 China?s Conservation International director asks an interesting question: Why do you need so many pandas?

The number of individuals per species is a good indicator to assess the state of any given community. But this is only...

The discussion of the usefulness of case reports seems to have overlooked two important points. The first is that case reports can be the starting point of ?bigger" research and clinical evaluation. Whether or not it is a rare medical condition being described, a case report provides an opportunity to describe in detail a clinical intervention and/or a surprising/different/noteworthy outcome. Many such outcomes might otherwise remain within the domain of anecdote. Publication of several similar case reports expands the knowledge base of the topic in question. At some point this topic might (then) be seen to be worthy of further evaluation.

The second point is that it is possible to construct a formal and systematic experimental evaluation of, for instance, an intervention, utilizing a single individual. That single case experiment can then be documented and published, as a more sophisticated form of case report.

Finally, it should also be acknowledged that multiple case reports are also popular in some areas. In these are detailed the clinical outcomes of a small number of similar individuals, so that tentative comparisons can then be drawn between subjects.

Martin Watson
Senior Lecturer, School of Allied Health Professionals
University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK


1. A. Gawrylewski, ?Case reports: Essential or irrelevant?" The Scientist Daily News, May 14, 2007. www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53192/ 2. J.C. Carey, ?Significance of case reports in advancing scientific knowledge," Am J Med Genet, 140:2131?4, 2006. 3. M. Eidson, et al., ?L-Tryptophan and eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome in New Mexico." Lancet, 335:645?8, 1990.


In the June issue of The Scientist, the article ?Addictive Research" (21(6):48-54, 2006) stated on first reference to George Koob as being based at the Salk Institute. Koob is in fact based at The Scripps Research Institute, as mentioned later in the article. The Scientist regrets the error.

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