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Arsenic followup 28 May, 2011

Posted by Simon Nickerson in Uncategorized.

Carl Zimmer has a great article in Slate about how the arsenic based controversy has changed the way that peer review is happening – he says we’re moving to a post-publication peer review process, where the merits of a paper are debated (often via blogs or Twitter) after it’s been published. The key point is that it’s not just amateurs or journalists writing about the research – other scientists are getting involved.

Zimmer notes that in the case of arsenic-based life, the original researchers have avoided this online debate (which was almost universally critical of their work), and only in the 3 June issue of Science will they respond to the critics. No matter which side is actually right, that’s simply too late. By staying out of the debate for over 6 months they’ve missed their chance to change people’s minds, and made it that much harder for themselves to be heard in the future.



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