Readers of MyScienceWork are a diverse bunch, representing many seemingly unrelated communities, both professionals and fans of science, in different parts of the world. So, we wondered, at the year’s end, when the dust had settled, what types of articles would emerge as the most popular? As it turns out, they run the gamut, much like you, Readers!
(Flickr / Graham Steel)
The latest research news, it goes without saying, interests fans of science. This year, the findings that most caught the attention of MyScienceWork readers suggested a link between surgery and Alzheimer’s disease. Cognitive decline had long been seen following surgery, but no one knew why. The study described here suggests that inflammation could be the culprit in speeding up the pathology of Alzheimer’s:
Beyond the breaking news, the human side of science speaks to our readers. Who are the people who actually do the research, day in and day out, that we so enjoy learning about? They are, for one, graduate students, like those featured in both seasons of Knock Knock Doc. They are also impressive individuals who have devoted a lifetime of expertise to their field and, often, to patients.
Jacinto Convit is one such person. A Venezuelan medical doctor and researcher, he has dedicated the last eight decades or so to the study of a number of major diseases and to improving health systems throughout his country. Beginning with leprosy in the 1930s, he helped to vastly improve conditions for these patients who, throughout history, have suffered disproportionately in society from their disease. Just a year before completing a full century on the planet, when this portrait was written, Dr. Convit was still in the lab and still going strong.
Sometimes, more than one great mind may independently produce the same great idea—and which name we remember may be an accident of history or of personality. This seems to have been the case with Alfred Russel Wallace and a certain Charles Darwin. Although each of them had the insight that natural selection drives the incremental changes leading to the appearance of new traits in a species, it is Darwin’s name we associate with this work today. This theory provides an orderly way to think about how evolution acts on different species and, thus, to reveal the connections between them. When we understand this, we see webs of related species begin to emerge, like wonderful, unruly family trees.
From high-level taxonomic categories, down to individual human communities, we find networks of connections within groups. Two more of this year’s most popular articles aim to help one specific community take full advantage of its networks. Laurence Bianchini’s article provided a handy overview of the plethora of social media and digital tools available to make a researcher’s life easier. Do you want to streamline your literature review? Need to enhance your international collaborations, or find one, to begin with? Which digital arrows should be in your research quiver? This article will help you explore the options:
With more and more and more information online – raw data, scientific publications, discussions, images, tweets, ... – there is now a significant need to manage it all. Google does a great job, to a point, but eventually human “curators” are needed to bring nuance to the gargantuan mass of data out there. This article shows us the different forms that this work can take, its utility for today’s “researcher 2.0” and the necessity for realizing the full potential of Open Science.
There you have it: a sampling from a year of science stories as varied as the people reading them. We’re looking forward to 2014 and to exploring with you all that emerges from the world of research. Happy New Year!
The MyScienceWork Team