September 30, 2004

Vioxx -- the right decision

Bloomberg.com: U.S.. For some, it is difficult to let go of $2.5 billion annually, but for the top execs in Merck, letting go was the right decision. When it comes to human health and human lives at stake, this type of decision should never be a difficult decision. And if I am ever in the position to make such a decision, I hope that my action would be swift, undetered and unflinching. It is still up in the air, however, how this action will affect public attitude towards Merck and the pharmaceutical industry, for that matter.

Posted by johnvu at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2004

Current Scientific Journal Publishers Aren't Making Money (yeah right!)

Person Tearsheet | Information Industry Executive Salaries Increase 16% In 2001 - Brief Article

"Incidentally, any member of the public can access any of our content by going into a public library and asking for it. There will be a time gap but they can do that."

Oral evidence to Inquiry, March 1st 2004, Crispin Davis (CEO, Reed Elsevier)

You can read this, and a number of other excellent quotes at the myth-buster page.

Posted by johnvu at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2004

NIH is on your side

washingtonpost.com: NIH Proposes Free Access For Public to Research Data. I got this article from a slashdot submission. I sure hope that the open access revolution will finally arrive with the implementation of this NIH policy. It's good to know that most scientists (including Nobel Laureates) agree that the current publishing system has to change to allow better access.

Posted by johnvu at 08:43 PM | Comments (0)

Sort of like the Maniatis for HIV work

Virology Manual for HIV Laboratories. The protocols in this manual are useful, but it's not an exhaustive manual of all the procedures used in a lab primarily dealing with HIV.

Posted by johnvu at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)

September 03, 2004

Save money, but you still have to use proprietary software

BioMed Central | Instructions for authors | Endnote discount. Biomed central: The open access publisher, so they say. Does anyone see the difficulty in being constrained to use a specific program in order to get a discount in publishing fees, to an open access publisher? I wish the discount also pertained to authors deciding to submit in BibTeX format. The difference? Well, if you tout yourself as an open access publisher, would it not be better that you decide on an open standard to store bibliographic data rather than commit yourself to a specific software package? Would it hurt you to live by the spirit of "open access" rather than the letter of it? What if ISI decides to change the way EndNote formats its data? That could break the compatibility of old files in the archive -- you're at the mercy of the software publisher AND you force your users to constantly upgrade (and buy) software that they don't necessarily need. But if you decided on an open standard to store bibliographic data, you would never need to worry about backwards compatibility, about the future of the software company, or about your users being pissed off at you for forcing them to buy new software. I realize that this is all a matter of economics -- the publisher is not giving a $50 discount for nothing. But for once in scientific publishing, couldn't they look beyond the monetary economics and start to see the social economy, i.e. the benefit of open access and open standards for scientists? We are scientists after all, if an open standard is not up to par you know that we'll hack it, fix it, or rebuild it until it does work.

Posted by johnvu at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

Sims for Cells

USATODAY.com - EA to boost production of mobile-phone games. I was scanning the USA Today headlines and I see "Sims for cells." I knew that Sims meant the game, The Sims, and I knew what cells were. I thought to myself, "Cool, a simulation role playing game about cell growth." I wondered how fun it would be to simulate yourself as a cell in a tissue macroenvironment. Perhaps I could be a macrophage going around eating other cells or debris, or perhaps a dendritic cell that grabs a friend along to the party known as the draining lymph node, or maybe I could play god and alter the number of muscle cells and build a super-strong organism. But then I followed the link, and find out that "cells" meant cellular phones. Darn. I'm such a bio-geek.

Posted by johnvu at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)