Most scientists would never pursue an experiment that was almost guaranteed to fail. But not only is microbiologist Rosie Redfield, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, attempting to replicate the disputed claim that a bacterium can incorporate arsenic into its DNA backbone, she is doing so in public view, detailing her work in an open lab notebook on her blog. . . .The model of peer-reviewed journals is very cumbersome and does not do enough to weed out fraudulent research. Live lab notebooks is one possible way around those problems. Most scientists are secretive because they want to be the first to "publish" their results, which is the way to get recognition, honors, money, etc. Blog posts don't count. But they should, because they give others a much better view of what scientists are actually doing than finished papers do.
Partly, Redfield wants to perform the detailed analyses of so-called 'arsenic life' that she thinks should have been in the original paper, published in Science last December, by Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a NASA Astrobiology Research Fellow based at the US Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California, and 11 others. Redfield's findings are already contradicting aspects of the original work.
But she also wants to strike a blow for openness in research. "It is such a great opportunity to do open science," she says. "I've been doing all my research openly for a while, but nobody pays attention."
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Science as it Happens
A new way of doing science: