Saturday, October 27, 2012

Polar Obsession

Photobook review time! I just bought a new photobook: Edward Weston, Life Work offered as a special deal on The Online Photographer. It is the most expensive book I ever bought. No sorry, it is the most expensive non-work-related book I ever bought. Anyway, two days after the offer started the book sold out, now there are only some Special Edition books left.

However, I don't have the book as such yet, so this time it is Polar Obsession by Paul Nicklen. It is published by the National Geographic, and is absolutely stunning. Good format, slightly squat and not too large for having in one's knee. It is however to large for hand-holding. The binding and the paper quality are excellent and the reproductions are really nice.
There are a huge number of these amazing photographs accompanied by fascinating little stories. Like one about a female leopard seal that tried to feed him penguins. But don't read it here, listen to him tell the story himself:
This is really one of my best photobooks, and it wasn't even that expensive.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hemodynamic Mechanisms of Acute Kidney Injury

Last week I was at an Acta Physiologica Symposium in Copenhagen. It was a scientific meeting jointly financed by the Scandinavian Physiological Society through the European journal Acta Physiologica, previously Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, and the German Science Council. As far as I have understood the first meeting they have ever financed outside of Germany.

From my perspective it was brilliant, there were at least six of my collaborators there and we got some time to discuss our future plans. Admittedly, not much time, but face-time is worth immensely much more than any number of mails and phone calls.

We were at the very worthy Royal Danish Academy of Science located in an old building right across from Tivoli in Copenhagen, just behind the city hall. It's from a time when there was money for science, and when that money wasn't unnecessarily spent on research. Marble, marble, marble, huge oil-paintings, relief-ceilings with paintings.

The actual meeting was about the hemodynamic mechanisms of acute kidney injury, which is a very current topic indeed. We are just about closing in on a time when we will be able to detect kidney injury already in the A&E, before the advent of renal failure with cessation of filtration. This means we will need to be able to distinguish different kinds of kidney diseases and will be able to follow treatment much more closely. What it means is that not only will we have to understand the early progression of kidney injury much better, we also need to find new, quick ways of defining it. It's going to be lots of fun. Look for the proceedings in the March or April issue of Acta Physiologica.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

That third reviewer and the quality of your research

An interesting piece of meta-research has been circulating recently: Papers that have been refused and resubmitted receive more citations than papers that are accepted as is. This may appear counterintuitive or self-evident depending on your point of view.

It appears counterintuitive for non-scientists because it is easy to think that most of what gets refused is low-quality research. However, I would posit that authors are actually quite good at picking the right journal for their work, and get refused for other reasons than the over all scientific quality. This is where it seems self-evident. If authors are good at picking journals, then papers get refused because of insufficient supporting data. If, in addition, the quality is good this means that the reviewers find the results highly interesting. So interesting in fact that they would like more data to be really certain that the conclusions are correct.

This would certainly fit with the result of Calcagno and co-workers' findings that these previously refused articles are more highly cited. On top of that, a refusal generally includes reviewer comments and suggestions that pin-point the weaknesses of the work as seen from the outside. This often means that the authors will add even more data before resubmitting, and may then choose a higher impact journal as was indicated by the finding that the highest impact journals actually were more likely to accept articles that had been rejected elsewhere first.

There is of course still the possibility that the third reviewer is being an ass.