This seminar will deal with some "big picture" topics in
modern science. There are approximately 13 topics that
we’ll discuss (roughly one per week), and 13 "stakeholder"
roles of the scientific enterprise. Each of you will be
responsible for a short (15 minute) presentation to the
rest of the class on one of these topics. The order of
assigned presentations was chosen at random. You can swap
topics with one of your classmates, but please keep me
informed of any swaps. The day before your assigned
presentation, you’ll be expected to email a brief (1 page)
abstract to the rest of the class. Following each of the
presentations, we’ll each assume a different role and will
discuss how that topic bears on the work and interests of
each of the stakeholders. The roles have also been passed
out at random, but you should each have each of the roles
only once this semester.Your grades for this course will
be based on the quality of your presentation (30%) as well
as your contributions to the discussions of other topics
- What is Science? How is
Science different from Research?
What makes an explanation Scientific? Is science
predictive? Is science "right" or just
self-correcting? Why does it work so well? Why is
reproducibility a good standard?
Reproducible by whom?
- Publish or Perish: What goes in
to a scientific publication? What doesn't go in?
What goes in supporting materials? What are the
stages of publication? Why submit to one journal
instead of another? Is it OK to use a paper as a
chapter of your thesis? What is scooping?
- Supporting science: Grants,
Funding models, industrial research and
sustainability. Is popular science necessarily good
science? Why were there so many Hydrogen storage
grants? How is a grant different from a contract?
What happened to Bell Labs? What is overhead?
- Scholarly metrics
(h-index, citation count, publication
count, journal impact factors). Can you measure
quality of science, or just quantity? Who
calculates impact factors? What is the
- Open Access Publishing (PLoS,
PubMed Central). Copyright issues and The Journals
vs. The Public. Who owns a scientific paper? Why
don’t more scientists put their papers in PubMed
- Peer review, preprint services
(arXiv, Nature Precedings), and post-publication
peer review. The following equation is demonstrably
true on youtube comment streams: (Normal person +
anonymity + audience) = bad behavior. Is it
necessarily true for scientific papers? How do you
get honest feedback without anonymity?
- The "third leg" of science:
simulations, informatics, and "omics". Do computers
change anything about science? What does a
simulation actually test? What can you learn from
the statistics of large data sets?
- Open Source scientific
software: licenses, advantages, disadvantages.
Should you cite your plotting program? Should you
trust your plotting program? Should you
trust your quantum chemistry program? Who
owns scientific code?
- Open Data: public science
databases / accession IDs, data licenses, Does
scientific data have copyright protection? What is
CC0? Who owns scientific data? Machine readability
& searching, Hierarchies vs. Annotation &
- Open Notebook Science: Making
yourself vulnerable to scooping or sharing your
science? Lab wikis, open protocols, exposing
scientific dirty laundry.
- Researcher Tracking: Is your
name enough? Orcid, ResearcherID, OpenID, blogging,
annotating, post-publication reviewing,
- Conferences. What are they for?
What goes into a conference presentation? What goes
in to a poster? The danger of out-of-band
conference communications. Examples of good talks.
Examples of bad talks.
- Social networking
for collaborative science. Going beyond SETI @ home. Why
would a ΄Facebook for Science‘ be a good idea? Why would
it be a bad idea?