To bid or not to bid: James Watson and the Noble Auction

Originally posted on Scepticemia:

James Watson, the celebrated scientist who unraveled the mystery of the structure of the DNA, is set to sell off his Nobel Prize at an auction. If he indeed does put it up for sale, he shall be the first living recipient to have done so. Understandably, the scientific world and interverse has been set aflutter by this decision. However, even as he has created this sudden flurry of activities, it has also given rise to the wounds that he, in his profound ivory-tower-based ignorance, had propounded about seven or so years ago.

The Troubled Helix (Photo by Daniel Mordzinski/AFP/Getty Images)

The Troubled Helix (Photo by Daniel Mordzinski/AFP/Getty Images)

Never one to mince his words. Jim Watson has widely been regarded as an obnoxious, arrogant and self-indulgent person (even by the standards of Harvard Professors!). And this is not me, but from what one of his earliest colleagues, the Naturalist, Ed Wilson, stated in his essay in…

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Why Are Publishers and Editors Wasting Time Formatting Citations?

Originally posted on The Scholarly Kitchen:

Sign reading, "citation needed"

Actually, we have the citation. It’s the identifiers and the metadata we need. (Image via futureatlas.com https://www.flickr.com/people/87913776@N00).

Citations are foundational elements of scholarly publishing. They provide evidence of the reliance of current work on existing literature, background on how research strategies were developed, indication of the thoroughness of the work, and a summary of significant prior related art, as well as facilitating plagiarism detection. As an ancillary benefit, they also have created one metric against which past research is judged. The investment in ensuring references are accurate, complete, and the link (if one exists) to the referenced object is functioning is certainly a core publishing function.

However, all of these things have very little to do with how references are presented in citations, nor the importance of one style over another. Much of the focus on citation style is driven by domain tradition and adherence to one of the…

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Quality of non-randomised studies in systematic reviews

Originally posted on Research Rainbow:

When we look at answering a research question using a systematic review it’s common to look for the best available evidence. This usually comes in the form of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) which randomise people into one of 2 or more different groups and then compare the differences.

But what happens if there is little or no evidence from high quality RCTs to look at for a given question. In some cases it may be unethical to randomise people to receive a certain health intervention . Can you imagine randomising pregnant women to take a drug in order to look at the harms it may cause to the child?

Well the Cochrane Epilepsy Group have been looking at just these types of questions in their reviews. And the evidence that contributes to finding answers about risks and harms is mostly carried out using non-randomised studies. Now some of these studies…

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Igniting the hidden fire of demand for understandable scientific evidence

Originally posted on Nordic-EBM:

And now for something completely different.

tlhIl Segh ‘oH qulSo”e’. laSvarghmeyDaq Du’meyDaq che’ronmeyDaq je lo’lu’. Hotchugh nuv, DIrDaj raghmoHlaH qulSo’ ‘ej nuv HeghmoHlaH QIHvam. pIjHa’ nuv QIH qulSo’, ‘ach QIHDI’ Qobqu’ ‘ej ‘oy’qu’moH.

qaStaHvIS poH nI’ ropyaHDaq ratlhnIS SIDpu’ law’.

nuv’e’ QIHpu’bogh qulSo’ Qorghlu’meH, motlh SutDaj tuQmoHHa’lu’ ‘ej DIr rIQ Say’moHlu’meH bIQ taS na’ joq lo’lu’. qulSo’ ‘ay’mey leghlaHchu’meH Qel, rut chalqut ngat lo’. ‘ach SuQqu’ ngatvam ‘ej porgh ‘elchugh SID HeghmoHlaH.

ghItlhvamvaD chalqut ngat lo’ luchovmeH Qul tamey’e’ DInejta’. cha’ tamey lI’ DISamta’ ‘ej DInuDta’. chorghmaH chorgh SIDpu’ ghu’mey chovta’ ghItlhwI’pu’. SIDpu’ QIHpu’ qulSo’ ‘ej ‘opvaD chalqut ngat lo’lu’ta’ ‘ach latlhpu’vaD lo’lu’pu’be’. SID ghu’ Dubbe’law’ chalqut ngat ‘e’ wItu’ ‘ej lo’lu’be’ ‘e’ luchup tameyvam qonwI’pu’.

SIDpu’ QIHpu’bogh qulSo’ luQorghlu’meH lI’bogh latlh Qul tamey’e’, pagh wISamta’.

That’s clear, right? No? Well yes OK. I can’t read it either. But please bear with me for a moment.

We’ll come back to…

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Identifying Research Priorities and Setting Research Agenda in Clinical Toxinology with a Focus on Snake Envenomation

“Identifying Research Priorities and Setting Research Agenda in Clinical Toxinology with a Focus on Snake Envenomation” was the theme of the round table discussion at the Toxinological Society of India Conference 2014 held at Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine on November 22 2014.

Theme lecture on Identifying Research Priorities and Setting Research Agenda was delivered by Dr. Soumyadeep Bhaumik, Cochrane Agenda and Priority Setting Methods Group, & BioMedical Genomics Centre, Kolkata, India

Health Research priority setting processes enable policy-makers, researchers, clinicians and public health professionals to effectively use available resources to collectively decide on what problems or uncertainties are worth trying to resolve/understand for maximal benefit. A transparent and evidence based priority setting process not only helps prioritization but also puts in perspective of patients and the need to improve health outcomes and reverse inequity. Snakebites, a neglected tropical condition, affects millions and kills thousands and yet there is miniscule research in this arena. The presentation focused on the basic concepts of research priority setting exercise, its utility and methods and processes for identifying research gaps and setting research agendas including question formulation, evidence assessment and prioritization process.

The presentation is available here Identifying Research Priorities & Setting Research Agenda. (Click)

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The Round Table discussion that followed had the following discussants

1. Professor Y K Gupta (Chair), Department of Pharmacology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi,India
2. Professor Yuri N. Utkin, Shemyakin-Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Russia
3. Professor Chittaranjan Maity, Head of the Department, Department of Biochemistry,KPC Medical College,Kolkata,India
4. Professor Antony Gomes, Laboratory of Toxinology and Experimental Pharmacodynamics, University of Calcutta, Kolkata,India
5. Professor Juan J Calvete, Laboratorio de Venomica , Estrtuctural y Funcional Instituoto de Biomedicina de Valencia, Spain
6. Dr Soumyadeep Bhaumik, Cochrane Agenda and Priority Setting Methods Group, & BioMedical Genomics Centre, Kolkata, India
7. Professor Santanu K Tripathi (Rapporteur for Toxinological Society of India). Head of the Department , Clinical & Experimental Pharmacology, Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine, Kolkata,India

The discussion focused to understand how priority setting processes can be inculcated in the field of snake envenomation and what broad domains can be considered priorities, as well as the ways to deal with challenges to development and implementation of research agenda in snake envenomation .

Please visit :  http://capsmg.cochrane.org/ for more details and resources on setting research agendas and identifying research priorities.

Developing evidence based health policy in resource limited settings—lessons from Nepal

Few would argue against the benefits of evidence informed public health and health policies. However, efforts to inform health policy in resource limited settings face particularly daunting challenges—often specific to the political complexity and resource limitations experienced uniquely in low and middle income countries (LMICs).

The Nepal Health Research Council (NHRC), a Government of Nepal body, has a long held mandate to support informed decision making by health policymakers in Nepal—an exciting but daunting role to operationalise. Informing health policy assumes that there is a base of information to communicate: in Nepal, this often isn’t available.

Read the full article by Dr Sangeeta R, Dr. Soumyadeep B and Dr. Krishna A at the British Medical Journal Blogs (Open Access)

Better Healthcare for the ASEAN Community after 2015

Hanoi, Vietnam – Hanoi hosted the 12th ASEAN Meeting of the Ministers of Health in September, the title “Better Healthcare for the ASEAN Community after 2015”, where 2015 stands for the dealing on the Millennium Development Goals established by the UN in 2000. Delegates of Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar and the Philippines (joined by auditors from China, Japan and South Korea, ASEAN+3) met to talk about health: how to protect and it and how to improve it.

ASEAN-member-countriesAmong the thematic panel to which representatives of the international community of donors have been invited, it is astonishing how countries which are generally known for their natural and cultural heritage (Phuket, Angkor Wat, Bali) have in fact complex and often extremely sophisticated health systems. Everything is addressed: old age, emerging infectious diseases, HIV/AIDS and health insurance systems.
In a region that grows, becomes richer and therefore older, the management of old age can’t be underestimated. Globalization means more economic exchange, but with trade and global transport come diseases, with richness and new opening to a new world come new habits and more sexual freedom, used by HIV/AIDS and STIs to move across countries. Speaking of health, being blunt about it even, is not a mere health priority anymore: it has become a political one too.

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