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Animal research war wages I understand the frustration behind Conn's writing. 1 I can easily believe that the demonstrations in connection with his job interview swayed the board to pick another candidate for the job. On the other hand, I still believe that a great majority in the country realizes that there is no replacement for animal

The Scientist Staff
May 31, 2008

Animal research war wages

I understand the frustration behind Conn's writing. 1 I can easily believe that the demonstrations in connection with his job interview swayed the board to pick another candidate for the job. On the other hand, I still believe that a great majority in the country realizes that there is no replacement for animal models in medical research. So what can be done?

University regents, presidents, boards, deans, and basically everybody in administration have to stand up for the people who use animals in research at the institution. Too many are prepared to throw researchers who have to use animals in their job through the window, as shortsighted solutions of a PR problem.

Göran Hellekant
Medical School Duluth
Duluth, MN
ghelleka@d.umn.edu

University regents, presidents, boards, deans...have to stand up for the people who use animals in research at the institution.

Having personally viewed hours of Matt...

Babel = Bedlam?

Suggesting that all scientists' native languages should be respected for publication 1 merely shifts the burden onto translators. The cost doesn't vanish; in fact, it gets worse as the number of translators approaches the square of the number of languages. Having a single language is more efficient than supporting many.

Rick Miller
Universal Esperanto Association
Muskego, WI
rdmiller3@gmail.com

The casual way with which some native-English speakers brush away my 30-year efforts to master their language is sometimes galling. Nevertheless, the reality is there: English has become the universal language of science and is here to stay. Scientists of all countries should realize that choosing a career in science also means a lifelong effort to master English.

Wim Crusio
Bordeaux University
Talence, France
wim_crusio@yahoo.com

I wonder whether the bigger issue with non-English speakers and writers is that the "language of science" has become increasingly complex and has now hit crisis proportions even for English-speaking scientists. We are writing in grinding detail about smaller and smaller things, we spout acronyms and abbreviations until they come out of our ears, and we write like lawyers, not scientists, with incredibly nuanced and convoluted statements. This has to make scientific writing extraordinarily difficult for the non-English speaker.

James Wilmer
Market America, Inc.
Stokesdale, NC
docbox@marketamerica.com

References

1. R. Gallagher, "Speaking your mind," The Scientist, 22(4):13, April 2008.

Yes to negative data?

Re: "No to negative data," 1 in which Steven Wiley argues that negative results are not worth publishing, it's sad that many scientists, perhaps in the biosciences in particular, seem to spend a lot of time designing experiments to support their pet hypotheses, rather than identifying weaknesses and bringing us closer to the truth. Selective use of data to support hypotheses, and turning a blind eye from experiments that "failed," may not quite count as fraud, but in my mind comes a pretty close second.

Stephen Hopkins
Injury Research Salford Royal Foundation Trust
Salford, UK
steve.hopkins@manchester.ac.uk

The author seems to be rather innocent about the way science really works. All results are about whittling down among a set of alternatives. Both the so-called positives and the so-called negatives therefore achieve the same thing: Very few results are utterly decisive, and we need to see the weight of evidence unfolding before we change our models.

John Horsfall
Oxford, UK
horsfall.john@mac.com

Steven Wiley Responds: It is clear that the issue of negative data triggers a gut reaction in most biologists. I think that is because most of our results are negative, and it frustrates us to think that no one cares about that. The reality, however, is that we don't.

I agree that my work would have greatly benefited from knowing about potential blind alleys beforehand, but I am skeptical that: 1) other scientists went down the same blind alleys, and 2) they would (or should) have taken the time to write them up into coherent scientific articles.

References

1. S. Wiley, "No to negative data," The Scientist, 22(4):39, April 2008.

Errata

In the May article "Dandruff Genomics" (22(5):75-7, 2008), we incorrectly spelled Procter & Gamble, and Joe Tiesman's and Teun Boekhout's names.

In the May 'Citation Classic' (22(5):64, 2008), the author name should be Ronald Breslow.

In the article "Reinventing the Antibody" (22(4):89-91, 2008), the clinical trial for BiTE antibody MT-103 was started in 2003, not 2006. Also, the trial required only milligram amounts, not gram amounts. The Scientist regrets these errors.