Friday, January 23, 2015

Elegance in Science Writing?

A short piece in Nature popped up on my Twitter feed this morning called "A call for beautiful prose in papers". You can read it here:

I found it interesting for a number of reasons.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Antibiotic Resistance and US Investment in Global Health

The NIH Fogarty Institute published a story recently about the growing issue of antibiotic resistance - here it is if you care to give it a read:

 Global leaders raise alarm on antibiotic resistance

A quote from the article summarizes the issue: 

Poor diagnostic tools, inappropriate use of antibiotics and a lack of new replacement drugs are causing a global crisis of antimicrobial resistance, according to global health leaders.

 I have never personally had an issue with the US sending money to foreign countries for research and education, although I know some people feel there are no good reasons for this. I submit that THIS issue is a damn good reason!

If we, who supposedly have the best healthcare in the world, do not take on the responsibility to equip developing countries with the tools they need to properly diagnose diseases and educate healthcare workers in those countries on when (and when not) to use antibiotics, we will end up with a global pandemic of deadly germs. That would suck, I think.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Document Recovery Trick

So you know that horrible, horrible feeling when you spend an hour perfecting a document that you opened from an email, then you save it, close it, and ONLY THEN realize you had not "SAVED AS" and you DON'T KNOW WHERE IT IS?

*insert popped-eye emoticon*

Yeah, I just had that.

But I didn't panic, because I knew it was on my computer somewhere. The trick was figuring out where exactly "somewhere" was. This is what I did:

  1. OK, so I did panic, but only for a moment.
  2. I re-opened Word and looked at my Recent documents list (accessible from the File tab). It was wasn't there.
  3. Had slightly more panic.
  4. I opened Windows Explorer and searched using terms from the file name. Got nothing or a bunch of irrelevant somethings.
  5. Took several deep breaths.
  6. Had this inspiration: reopened the document from the email and did a "Save As". This gave me the location!
  7. Clicked in the folder address box and copied the location.
  8. Opened Windows Explorer and pasted the location into the folder address box.
  9. PRESTO! There it was!
So hallelujah for not panicking (much...), keeping my wits about me (mostly...), and recovering an hour's worth of work with a little know-how!

Happy Good Friday!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wise Words from Van Gogh

I stumbled across this quote today, and it was a timely reminder that it's important in every aspect of life to remember to ignore the voices of doubt in your head:

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint', then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced."
 - Vincent Van Gogh

Friday, March 21, 2014

Modifier Nouns: -s or no -s?

So typically in English you can "stack" nouns to the left of the main noun and make them into modifiers, like so:

Instead of:

 a study that is funded by NCI, focused on cancer, long term, a prospective cohort, and ongoing
You can say:
a long-term, ongoing, NCI-funded, cancer-focused prospective cohort study

(And we could keep going all day with the stacking -- if we wanted too, although as your editor, I would advise against it!)

Typically, as part of this process, you lose the final "-s" on plural nouns. For example, if you were discussing the "quality controls" implemented in your lab:


*quality controls procedures
quality control procedures

Where this process gets sticky is when you have a collective noun that looks like a plural (and ends in "-s") but that is grammatically singular. Especially sticky, in my experience, are such nouns created from adjectives. Recent examples of these that have made their way across my editing desk include "bioinformatics", "proteomics", and -- more recently -- "metabolomics".

These are nifty, exciting-sounding nouns. I like them! However, they make for rather awkward noun stacking:

Correct (??):

*?metabolomics assay

I never quite know. It's awkward and weird-sounding to my ear, because as an adjective-derived noun, "metabolomics" and its cousins retain their adjectivalness just enough that I want to change the example above to "metabolomic assay". But that doesn't have quite the same meaning, so I end up leaving it alone. And wincing ever so slightly every time I re-read it.

 Ah, the life of an editor! Forever twitching over minutiae...


Friday, March 7, 2014

Open Data

"Open Access" to published scientific reports -- especially reports produced using government funds -- has been a topic for heated debate for a number of years. More recently, I've come across an equally heated debate on Twitter about "Open Data". Open Data, similar to its sibling Open Access, asserts that researchers should make the data they collect, clean, and organize freely and publicly available. There are variations in how this should look. Some would have datasets published along with manuscripts. Some would have them posted on an institutional website. Others would have datasets "accessible", but only through a gateway through which interested parties would submit an analysis request to the original researchers, who would do the actual analysis and send the results to the requester.

I can see both sides of the issue. On the one hand, I think publicly funded research should absolutely be made public and freely accessible -- at least, at some point in its life. On the other hand, I think the original researchers should retain credit for the work they did collecting, cleaning, and organizing.

There are deeper issues too. There is the potential for a negative impact on the career paths of researchers whose data "goes public", since their capacity to publish from their data is going to decrease as the number of people with access to their data increases. That is not to say that researchers should be allowed to sit on their data in perpetuity either, but it seems to me that there ought to be balance struck.

Also, there is a particularly sticky issue with human genetic datasets. A tremendous amount of public resources have been and will continue to be poured into genotyping, sequencing, etc. to ferret out the "host" causes of human disease. Shouldn't this data be accessible to as many people as possible, so we can accelerate the process of identifying how genes affect human health? Well, maybe. Then again, is it really ethical to make genotyping and sequencing data fully accessible to anyone on the internet when we know that it is now possible to identify individuals from such data?


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Welcome to BioMedEDITS!

BioMedEdits provides accurate and professional editing services for biomedical researchers, specializing in the areas of epidemiology and chronic disease and in working with non-native speakers of English.

I have over 15 years of experience editing in various fields and over 10 years of experience working specifically for scientists in disciplines ranging from climate change research to cancer genetics.