Friday, October 21, 2016

Improving academic publishing through hypothesis registration, open reviews, and open data

Academic journals
There are three promising approaches for improve academic publishing:

1) Hypothesis preregistration. Currently, many academic studies gather large datasets and then search for trends/patterns within that dataset, without first stating their hypotheses. Such a post-hoc analysis, also called 'fishing', can lead to a Texas Sharpshooter falacy, which often arises when researchers have a large amount of data at their disposal, but only focus on a small subset of that data. The fallacy is characterized by a lack of a specific hypothesis prior to the gathering of data, or the formulation of a hypothesis only after data have already been gathered and examined. The fallacy occurs when the same data is used to construct and test the same hypothesis (hypotheses suggested by the data).

Suggested solution: Researchers pre-register their hypothesis, research designs, and analysis plans with a journal and publish them in advance, for example with the Open Science Foundation. Such a pre-registration allows for stronger explanatory and confirmatory research. An example of a journal that already practices hypothesis registration is Learning at Scale.

2) Many academic publications only publish the summaries of their data. This does not allow other researcher to verify the data analysis or re-use the dataset for further studies.

Suggested solution: Open data approaches allow researchers, whenever possible, feasible, and ethical, to make their dataset available for inspection and additional analysis. This also allows replication studies and an in-depth inspection by reviewers.

3) Reviewers and editors of academic journals often spend a lot of time reviewing submitted manuscripts. The academic publishing process is considered a 'dialogue' between the authors, the editor, and the reviewers. However, this dialogue happens usually behind closed doors (masked reviews) and the often substantial amount of work by the reviewers does not receive any official recognition.

Suggestion solution: Open reviews publish the peer review comments alongside the article. This gives the reviewers credit for their work and enables readers to judge for themselves how well the paper responded to the critique of peers. It could even be considered that reviewers and editors receive credit for the paper (similar to the credits in a movie that list all people who contributed in some form). Some journals even list reviewer reports with a separate DOI. Open review can also reveal the identity of authors and reviewers (rather than a single blind or double blind review). Open review could encourage a more authentic academic dialogue. Open reviews with a publication of peer review reports can contribute to greater transparency (see some examples here).

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Examples of recent evolutionary changes in humans

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Advances in genetics class since your high school biology class

Over the past decades, the field of genetics rapidly developed, for example in the areas of inherited diseases, cancer, personalized medicine, genetic counseling, the microbiome, diagnosis and discovery of viruses, taxonomy of species, genealogy, forensic science, epigenetics, junk DNA, gene therapy and gene editing.

Joel Eissenberg, Ph.D., associate dean for research and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine summarizes major advances in genetics since the 1960s:

When Did You Go to High School?
If you took high school biology in the …
1960s, you learned about the structure of the double helix and how sequences of DNA encode amino acids.
1970s, you may also have learned about cloning and the potential for recombinant DNA.
1980s, your class may have covered the clinical use of recombinant human insulin for diabetes treatment and the advent of GMO foods.
1990s, your class may have studied the molecular basis for human genetic disorders, like cystic fibrosis.
2000s, your teachers likely described how the human genome was being sequenced.

What’s changed in genetics since your high school biology class?: The field of genetics has seen astonishing breakthroughs and the development of world-changing technologies in the past half century.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

REALTO - the learning platform for vocational education that integrates school and workplace experiences

REALTO is a web- and mobile based platform that allows users to capture, annotate, and share experiences made at the workplace and at school. The goal is to integrate different forms of experiences through reflection.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Google releases digital notebook app for STEM education called 'Science Journal'

Google 'Science Journal' app
In collaboration with the Exploratorium, Google produced a free Android app, called Science Journal, aimed at helping young students record and analyze scientific experiment results. With this app, students can record data from sensors on their Android phones (or connected via an Arduino), take notes, observe, interpret and predict.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Supercomputer Watson suggests new recipes for adventurous cooks

Would you like discover new recipes? Created by a supercomputer? You can now ask Watson, IBM's supercomputer, to suggest an entirely new recipe for you that combines ingredients you might never have thought of putting together.

"Chef Watson" is an experiment to test if Watson could create entirely new and surprising recipes and ingredient combinations. After reading thousands of recipes and learning about food pairing theories and the hundreds of thousands of complex relationships between flavor compounds, Chef Watson has helped shape the public perception of the potential for cognitive computing.

You can try Chef Watson for free here or as an smartphone app.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Celebrities with PhDs or MDs

Which celebrity earned a Ph.D. or a M.D.? (The list below does not include undergraduate degrees, master degrees, or honorary doctor titles).
  • The heavyweight boxer, Vitali Klitschko, holds a Ph.D. from the Ukraine and his brother, another heavyweight boxer, Wladimir Klitschko, holds a Ph.D. from Kiev National University.
  • Brian May, Guitarist of Queen (Astronomy Ph.D.): He wrote his thesis on zodiacal dust clouds
  • Greg Graffin (Singer, Bad Religion) has a PhD from Cornell University. The PhD dissertation was entitledMonism, Atheism and the Naturalist Worldview: Perspectives from Evolutionary Biology.
  • Dexter Holland (singer & guitarist: The Offspring) was a PhD candidate in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Southern California.
  • Dan Snaith (records as Caribou) has a Ph.D. in Mathematics
  • Mayim Bialik (Blossom, Big Bang Theory) has a Ph.D. in 2008 from U.C.L.A. in neurobiology. She did her dissertation on Prader-Willi syndrome.
  • Milo Aukerman (Punk band "The Descendents") got a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin. Dissertation title: "Analysis of Opaque-2 Function in Maize".
  • Miuccia Prada (Head of the Prada fashion house) has a P.D. in political science.
  • Condoleezza Rice has her PhD in political science from the Graduate School of International Studies at University of Denver, USA.
  • Gordon Brown has his PhD in history from the University of Edinburgh, UK.
  • Martin Luther King Junior received a PhD in systematic theology from Boston University, USA
  • General David Petraeus has a PhD from Princeton.
  • German chancellor Angela Merkel has a doctorate degree in physical chemistry.
  • Robert Vaughn (The man from U.N.C.L.E): Vaughn earned a Ph.D. in communications from the University of Southern California, in 1970. In 1972, he published his dissertation as the book, Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting.
  • The only president of the United States with a Doctorate was Woodrow Wilson, who received his in History and Poli Sci from Johns Hopkins in 1886.
  • Dan Grimaldi (Patsy Parisi) on The Sopranos has a PhD in Data Processing from City University of New York.
  • Peter Weller. In 2013, Weller successfully defended his Ph.D. at UCLA in Italian Renaissance art history titled Alberti Before Florence: Sources Informing “De Pictura".
  • Shaquille O’Neal: In 2012, the former NBA basketball star defended his Ph.D. in leadership and education from Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida. Title: How Leaders Utilize Humor or Aggression in Leadership Styles.
  • Tennis player Mikhail Youzhny completed his Ph.D. in philosophy from Moscow University in 2010.
  • Former Major League pitcher “Iron Mike” Marshall obtained his Ph.D. in kinesiology from Michigan State University in 1978. His dissertation was entitled, A Comparison of an Estimate of Skeletal Age With Chronological Age When Classifying Adolescent Males for Motor Proficiency Norms.
  • Former quarterback Frank Ryan completed his Ph.D. in mathematics from Rice University in 1964.
  • Rachel Maddow received her Ph.D. in 2001. Maddow’s dissertation focused on AIDS health care reform in prisons.
  • Miuccia Prada (Prada Fashion House) earned her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Milan in 1973.
  • Former US secretary of defense Robert Gates obtained his Ph.D. in Russian and Soviet history at Georgetown University in 1974.
Actors working on a PhD:
  • James Franco is a Ph.D. student in English at Yale University. He also received his MFA from Columbia University in 2010. 
Actors with Medical Doctor Degrees (M.D.):
  • Ken Jeong (Community, The Hangover), M.D.
  • Graham Chapman (Monty Python), M.D.
  • Jonathan LaPaglia ("Cold Case"), M.D.
  • Jonathan Miller ("Beyond the Fringe"), M.D. As reported in IMDB, "As well as being a qualified doctor, he is a satirist, sculptor, photographer, author, television presenter, performer, and theatre, opera & film director."
  • George Miller ("Mad Max", "Babe", "Happy Feet" ), M.D. (Director)
Actors with an Doctor of Education (Ed.D)
  • In 1976, Bill Cosby earned a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) degree from the University of Massachusetts. For his doctoral research, he wrote a dissertation entitled, "An Integration of the Visual Media Via 'Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids' Into the Elementary School Curriculum as a Teaching Aid and Vehicle to Achieve Increased Learning".
See more here:

Here is a list of celebrities with academic degrees (mostly B.A.s).

Here is a list of comedians with academic degrees (mostly B.A.s and M.A.s).

Here is a list of professional wrestlers with academic degrees (mostly B.A.s).