General

PNAS narrows pathway to publication

Nature Newsblog - 2 hours 10 min ago

One door to publishing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has slammed shut. In an editorial this week, Editor-in Chief Inder Verma said the prestigious US journal will no longer accept submitted papers that come with a pre-arranged editor (who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences).

The journal formalized this publication track in 2010, when it eliminated so-called “communicated” papers, which allowed academy members to usher papers from non-member colleagues through to publication. Papers with pre-arranged editors (known in PNAS-speak as “PE”) went through peer review, but the process was shepherded by an academy member pre-chosen by the author of the paper, rather than an editor selected by journal. The intention was to encourage papers that were interdisciplinary or ‘ahead of their time’, and deserving of special attention. According to Verma’s letter: “The PE process was intended to be used on rare occasions but, since we formalized the PE process, more than 11,000 papers have been submitted by authors with a PE designation. Although we are certain that some of these papers truly needed special attention, the vast majority likely did not, and therefore we are discontinuing the PE process as of October 1, 2014.” Papers already submitted through that track won’t be affected by the change.

Nature noted Verma’s desire to eliminate pre-arranged editor submissions in a recent feature on PNAS (“The Inside Track”): “One in five direct submissions published in 2013 used a prearranged editor, and the acceptance rate for these papers is higher than for other direct submissions. ‘More and more the playing field will be levelled,’ says Verma.” That story focused on PNAS’s “contributed” path to publication, which lets academy members publish up to four papers per year using peer reviewers they select (whose comments the members can take or leave). As our story noted, many members rarely or never use the “contributed”  track, while just a handful make regular use of it. This publication track remains unchanged, so academy members don’t need to make an “Indiana Jones” style dash through a closing door just yet.

hat tip: In the Pipeline

Categories: General, News

UK and US universities slip in latest rankings

Nature Newsblog - 2 hours 46 min ago

The California Institute of Technology was ranked #1 university in the world by the Times Higher Education, but overall the US lost three institutions from the top-200.

Bob Paz/Caltech

Universities in both the United States and United Kingdom slipped slightly down the tables in the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-15, released on 1 October.

Both countries still dominate the rankings, with 103 of the top 200 institutions — and the totality of the top 12 spots — between them. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena topped the table for the fourth year in a row (see Top 10 below). But overall the US lost three institutions from the top 200, and the UK lost two. According to THE, over four years the US has suffered the largest total loss in rankings position.

Meanwhile universities on the Asian continent continued to rise within the ranking, with China, Russia and Hong Kong gaining one top 200 representative each, and Turkey gaining three. German universities also increased their representation, with two new top-200 entrants.

The rankings, which were revamped in 2010, try to measure an institution’s research, teaching, knowledge transfer and international outlook, based on 13 criteria, which include a reputation survey, subject-averaged citation impact, income from industry and international co-authorship.

Flaws in such rankings are well documented (see ‘University rankings ranked’), but the annual tables continue to prove popular among students and policymakers. The THE results come on the back of the QS World University Rankings, which painted a rosier picture for UK universities.

2014-15 Rank
2013-14 Rank
Institution name 1 1 California Institute of Technology 2 2 Harvard University 3 2 University of Oxford 4 4 Stanford University 5 7 University of Cambridge 6 5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology 7 6 Princeton University 8 8 University of California, Berkeley 9 10 Imperial College London
Categories: General, News

Have our bodies held the key to new antibiotics all along?

Biology News - Wed, 2014-10-01 15:52

As the threat of antibiotic resistance grows, scientists are turning to the human body and the trillion or so bacteria that have colonized us — collectively called our microbiota — for new clues to fighting microbial infections. They've logged an early success with the discovery of a new antibiotic candidate from vaginal bacteria, reports Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.

Categories: Biology News, General

ZEB1, Oscar for leading role in fat storage

Biology News - Wed, 2014-10-01 15:52

The process of adipogenesis made clear by identifying the precise proteins that play the leading roles in fat absorption

And the winner is ... ZEB1! There are many actors involved in the process of adipogenesis, used by the body to store the fat that it absorbs from food. Up to now there had been some uncertainty as to how it was regulated. Yet, understanding this mechanism is of crucial importance to prevent the diseases related to fat accumulation in adipose tissue.

Categories: Biology News, General

Botany: Forensic chemistry could stop plant thieves

Nature - Wed, 2014-10-01 13:45

Botany: Forensic chemistry could stop plant thieves

Nature 514, 7520 (2014). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/514017a

Author: Linda Nordling

Scientists hope to save rare cycads using isotope analysis.

Categories: General, Nature

Astronomy: To catch a cosmic ray

Nature - Wed, 2014-10-01 13:45

Astronomy: To catch a cosmic ray

Nature 514, 7520 (2014). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/514020a

Author: Katia Moskvitch

The Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina has spent almost ten years looking for the source of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays — but to no avail. Now the observatory faces an uncertain future.

Categories: General, Nature

The first South Americans: Extreme living

Nature - Wed, 2014-10-01 13:45

The first South Americans: Extreme living

Nature 514, 7520 (2014). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/514024a

Author: Barbara Fraser

After humans arrived in South America, they quickly spread into some of its most remote corners.

Categories: General, Nature

Resources: Curb vast water use in central Asia

Nature - Wed, 2014-10-01 13:45

Resources: Curb vast water use in central Asia

Nature 514, 7520 (2014). doi:10.1038/514027a

Author: Olli Varis

Irrigation-intensive industries in former Soviet republics have sucked water bodies dry. Olli Varis calls for economic reform to ease environmental and social tensions.

Categories: General, Nature

Climate policy: Ditch the 2 °C warming goal

Nature - Wed, 2014-10-01 13:45

Climate policy: Ditch the 2 °C warming goal

Nature 514, 7520 (2014). doi:10.1038/514030a

Authors: David G. Victor & Charles F. Kennel

Average global temperature is not a good indicator of planetary health. Track a range of vital signs instead, urge David G. Victor and Charles F. Kennel.

Categories: General, Nature

Correction

Nature - Wed, 2014-10-01 13:45

Correction

Nature 514, 7520 (2014). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/514018b

The News story 'Seed-patent case in Supreme Court' (Nature494, 289–290; 2013 ) implied that Monsanto patented a method for engineering transgenic crops to produce sterile seeds before 1999. Although it began negotiations in 1998 to acquire the firm

Categories: General, Nature

New book list, September 24, 2014

Ernst Mayr Library Blog - Wed, 2014-09-24 10:05

An alphataxonomic revision of extinct and extant razorbills (Aves, Alcidae): a combined morphometric and phylogenetic approach.
By N. Adam Smith and Julia A. Clarke. Washington, D.C.: American Ornithologists’ Union, 2011. HOLLIS# 014169118
QL696.C42 S65 2011

The Crustacea: revised and updated from the Traité de Zoologie. Volume 4, pt. B.
Edited by J. Forest and J.C. von Vaupel Klein; advisory editor, F.R. Schram. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2004- . HOLLIS# 009471158
QL435.C77 2004 v. 4, pt. B

Dinosaurs of Utah.
By Frank DeCourten. Second Edition. Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press, [2013]. HOLLIS# 014159037
QE862.D2 D42 2013

The evolution of plants.
By K.J. Willis (Biodiversity Institute, University of Oxford), J.C. McElwain (School of Biology & Environmental Science, University College Dublin). Second edition. Oxford, United Kingdom; New York: Oxford University Press, [2014]. HOLLIS# 014159038
QK980.W56 2014

Freshwater fishes of North America. Volume 1: Petromyzontidae to Catostomidae.
Edited by Melvin L. Warren, Jr., and Brooks M. Burr; illustrated by Joseph R. Tomelleri. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014- . HOLLIS# 014151438
QL625.F74 2014 v. 1

HBW and BirdLife International illustrated checklist of the birds of the world. Volume 1. Non-passerines.
By Josep del Hoyo, Nigel J. Collar; with David A. Christie, Andrew Elliott, Lincoln D.C. Fishpool; colour plates by Richard Allen [and 27 others]. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, [2014]- . HOLLIS# 014161900
QL677.H78 2014

In the light of evolution. Volume 7. The human mental machinery.
John C. Avise and Francisco J. Ayala, editors. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, c2007-. HOLLIS# 011964899
QH359.I55 2007 v. 7

Moths of Europe. Vol. 4, Pyralids 2.
By Patrice Leraut ; foreword by Gaëtan du Chatenet ; translation by Nicholas Flay. [Verrières le Buisson]: N.A.P. Editions, 2006- . HOLLIS# 012194271
QL555.A1 L36 2006 v. 4

Organizing exhibitions: a handbook for museums, libraries and archives.
By Freda Matassa. London: Facet Publishing, [2014]. HOLLIS# 014019994
AM151.M345 2014

Suisun Marsh: ecological history and possible futures.
Edited by Peter B. Moyle, Amber D. Manfree, and Peggy L. Fiedler. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, [2014]. HOLLIS# 014122184
QH105.C2 S874 2014

Tadpoles of Africa: the biology and identification of all known tadpoles in sub-Saharan Africa.
By Alan Channing, Mark-Oliver Rödel, Jenny Channing. Frankfurt am Main: Edition Chimaira, 2012. HOLLIS# 014151390
QL668.E2 C426 2012

Categories: General
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