Structured procrastination, 23-Aug-2012 edition

By Grant Jacobs 23/08/2012

Long-time readers will know ‘Structured procrastinations’ are when I point to interesting or quirky articles, usually on the less academic side, to clear tabs out of my web browser.

What was that about impact factors, Nature? Criticising their inflated status under a banner headlining your own impact factor…

(Original seen on twitter, by Petro Baltrao; reproduced with permission.)

If impact factors interest you, read Stephen Curry’s article Sick of Impact Factors, which has lots of excellent commentary following it. Fellow sciblogger, Siouxsie has a short take on Stephen’s article, Statistically illiterate…

There’s a new history of science blog over at the Guardian, The H Word. There’s three H’s there – history, Higgitt and Heggie, the authors. They aim to cover the history of science, institutions, instruments and museums.

In two pregnancy-related themes, one study looks at the gut microbiota (that’s the collection of bacteria living in your gut) in pregnant women, summarised in Nature News. The study suggests that this may be linked to mothers (and their babies) putting on the pounds (or kilos) in later pregnancy. There is potentially an interesting interplay between the body, changing the gut microbiota and metabolism at work. Another study looks at epigenetic changes in the DNA of  newborns whose mothers smoked while they were pregnant.

Disability awareness and the disabled in the science community (including students). I’m calling for contributions for a blog carnival I hope to host. Any disability is open to consideration and I’m open to whatever angles you have: technology, teaching, history, personal experience, and so on. You don’t have to be disabled yourself to contribute. Old posts on the theme will be considered.

Fly yourself over Mars. The Mars Curiosity rover has attracted attention to all things Martian. If you haven’t tried it already, you can explore Mars through Google Mars in either 2-D or 3-D. The locations of some features and previous vehicle landings are marked.

I’ll let you form your own opinion, but in Japan some universities are competing in a Miss Science beauty pageant. (H/T: @sciencegoddess and @kubke)

We’re keen on accurate in-depth reporting here. Local journalist Bernard Hickey is floating the early stages his site offering “Public interest journalism funded by the public”. There’s coverage from MediaWatch and Bernard’s video introduction to the idea.

Distinguishing correlation and causation is covered in a series of posts at the It’s an important topic for anyone who reads media accounts of medical/health statistics, or just anything reporting that one thing is ‘linked’ to another. (H/T Stacey Baker via twitter.)

Tidying up my posts. The recent(ish) upgrade of sciblogs has muddled up a few parts of older posts, for example mangling some (but not all) diacritics or curly quotes, not accepting a few YouTube URLs and so on. I’m working my way through these; currently I’m up to about a year ago. If you spot any I’ve missed, let me know. I hope to also tidy the comments, but that’ll have to wait until I learn how to do that without reposting them to you. You won’t want a bunch of old comments in your RSS feeds…

Other articles on Code for life:

NZ Skeptics Conference 2012

Calling for submissions: Disability Awareness and the Disabled in the Science Community

Science PhD career preferences surveyed

What kind of scientist are you?

Do TED lectures need better vetting?

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