Do authorship conventions really work?

Camille Nous, is a fictitious French addition to quite a few high profile articles designed to “protest” current authorship conventions in science. She has published across quite the waterfront of disciplines–easily explained by her non-existence. But the larger question raised by the addition of Nous to the list is whether our authorship conventions serve the function for which they were designed–namely to allocate intellectual responsibility for the publication as a product. My own view is that this question is quite valid. The whole reason that I support ORCID is the notion of allocating credit for the production of scientific work in a manner that is more functional than the current status quo. Although it goes beyond ORCID. Many journals require a section that essentially states who did what with regards to the project. Now if you could attach that to ORCID, then we’d be in a better place.

The Green Premium: Bill Gates

I’m guilty of reading quite a bit of science fiction. My latest read is Kim Stanley Robinson’s Ministry for the Future. It deals with the decade just ahead of our own time, when the climate chickens truly come home to roost. After this year of pandemic and political unrest, it’s easily imaginable. Which leads me to Politico’s interview with Bill Gates, here. Gates, mainly advocates going after the really big stuff for reducing carbon emissions–where the really big payoffs are. Rather than sweating the small incremental policy adjustments.

Events of January 6 here in DC…

There is much excellent content out there. My own experience of the day itself was surreal, as it was for many. For me, the connection goes back to beginning of my professional life, not in science, but on the Hill. Right after graduating from Amherst College, I interned on the Hill for the New England Congressional Caucus. Our senior member was non other than the House Speaker, Tip O’Neill. Since then, for me, there have been decades of visits to the Capitol Building for various work obligations. What happened this past week was of course an armed rebellion that led to deaths and threatened the very core of our republic. That it was stopped before killing democracy in this country doesn’t ameliorate the on-going threat.

Going back to the subject of the blog, it is the respect for such a thing as objective truth, that keeps the discoveries coming. Let us all work together, to protect the concept of truth, so as to be able to continue with what many of us love: science.


Photo by Oleg Magni on

Yes, it’s here–finally. After the Spring semester, this will be a sabbatical year (AY21-22) for me. Plans for the year include foci on AI, environmental microbiomes and SARS-CoV2. And of course, I’ll continue to give unsolicited science policy advice to the new Administration. They’ll need all the help they can get.

Thanks so much to my loyal readers. I wish you all a much better 2021.

Neil Shubin’s new book…

Some Assembly Required, is excellent. Neil played an absolutely critical role in building the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory’s relationship with the University of Chicago early in the last decade. But he’s very impressive as a science communicator. This book is about the relatively recent marriage between molecular biology and the study of our biosphere’s historical trajectory–a domain that used to be wholly occupied by the anatomists.