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Tips and tricks for being a better scientist

Astrobetter: It's like Lifehacker, but for astronomers. Although, frankly, I think a lot of the tips and tricks would apply just as well to other branches of science. Learn how to talk about your research without rambling. Add QR codes to your posters. Improve your peer reviewing skills. (Via a really neat conversation about science communication tools happening now at Science Online New York City. #sonyc) Maggie

NYT: It's OK for a newspaper to say a source is lying

The good news: The New York Times called shenanigans on a quote in the same story the quote appeared in, saying "This is false." The less-exciting news: It happened in a story about competing pizza restaurants. But still, as Jay Rosen points out, praise is in order. This is something journalism needs more of, and if it has to start with a pizza feud, so be it.

A comic about the real scientific process

Made by scientist Paul Vallett for his Electron Cafe blog, this funny cartoon is essentially about the differences between how science happens in the movies, and how science happens in real life.

On the one hand, I like it a lot, because the speed and ease of movie science does lead people to expect major breakthroughs to happen quickly, and makes them less critical of the sort of PR and journalism that tries to paint every new paper as a game-changer. In fact, you could probably make a case for movie science being one of the drivers that helps to create that bad PR and journalism to begin with. If decades of film and television have trained people to expect easy "Eureka!" moments, maybe they're likely to have less interest in nuanced results, or the fact that not all published science is correct. Unrealistic expectations matter.

On the other hand, well-done fiction is bound by reasonable constraints. There's not time for a "and then they do real science" montage in every movie. To a certain extent, I think this particular complaint might be a bit like wondering why nobody in Star Wars ever stops to pee.

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Regulating science the way we regulate restaurant kitchens

Peer-review does many things, but it isn't built to weed out fraud. In the wake of large scandals like the expose of Andrew Wakefield's fraudulent autism study, the British government is starting to consider regulating science for fraud the same way it regulates restaurants for public health. Brian Deer, the journalist who helped expose Wakefield, supports the idea. What do you think? (Via Ivan Oransky)

Scientist proposes replacing peer review with something like Reddit

At Genomes Unzipped, Joe Pickrell, a graduate student in genetics at the University of Chicago, makes a case for replacing the traditional peer review system for scientific publications with something more akin to social networking. Or, really, a professional version of Reddit, plus some deep search features. Not having dealt with the peer-review system myself, I'm curious what the scientists out there think. Good idea? Bad idea? Good idea for some fields, bad idea for others? (Via Daniel MacArthur)

A paywall you can see from space

The good news: Bloomberg is putting together a new online media outlet that promises to produce an incredibly detailed parsing of what happens in Washington and how government really works. The bad news: The subscription fee is $5,700 per year.

The value of aggregators

The Drudge Report apparently drives more traffic to news websites than Facebook or Twitter combined. The Society for Scholarly Publishing says there's lessons to be learned here about the value of aggregation, and how science could use aggregation to drive better communication about new research and big ideas.

Skin care company tries to bribe journalists into printing its press release

Dear Editor or Health Editor: Would you consider running our press release as a win-win project? We will pay $100 for every Skin Care Patient who sees the press release in your newspaper and commits to our exclusive and effective process. We monitor each incoming patient and where they heard about us. — From a press release sent by Medisys Research Group to Virginia media outlets. At least one editor was not swayed by this "fabulous" offer and forwarded the offending press release to Jim Romenesko at Poynter. Virginia Boingers: You can read the full press release on Romenesko's blog. Let me know if it shows up in your local paper or TV station. Pay-for-play deals like this need to be exposed! (Via Gary Schwitzer)