Latest posts

Data not shown: time to distribute some common sense about impact factors

It’s that time of year when all clear-thinking people die a little inside: the latest set of journal impact factors has just been released.

Although there was an initial flurry of activity on Twitter last week when the 2015 Journal Citation Reports* were published by Thomson Reuters, it had died down by the weekend. You might be forgiven for thinki Continue reading

Posted in Open Access | Leave a comment

That dumb flag – It’s time to let it go

I miss my home town. I miss the sound of cicadids on a summer evening. I miss the construction of a fine, Southern sentence. I miss running around in bare feet. Continue reading

Posted in Confederacy, Confederate flag, Dylann Roof, Heritage not hate, racism | Leave a comment

What Next after Tim Hunt? (#just1action4WIS)

Last week the world erupted into a storm of outrage over remarks Sir Tim Hunt, Nobel Prize winner, made in Korea. Unacceptable, indefensible remarks. He has been made to resign from positions and committees for which he has worked so hard. An extraordinary number of column inches (virtual and real) have been devoted to demonising the man. As someon Continue reading

Posted in discrimination, Equality, personal responsibility, Royal Society, Science Culture, Women in science | Leave a comment

In which we kill the messenger: is Twitter dystopian?

In the past week there has been a lot of talk about sexism in science. I don’t want to rehash any of the arguments (though you can hear some of my views on Radio 4 and in the Telegraph). One might summarize it like this, just to set the stage:

1. Some silly, ill-thought-out comments were made by a high-profile scientist in a very public venue Continue reading

Posted in The profession of science, Women in science | Leave a comment

Cry, cry, cry (for backwards Nobel Laureates)

So this happened – at The World Conference of Science Journalism, at a lunch sponsored by Korean female scientists and engineers – just yesterday.

Tim Hunt on women

So as a human being, I am not sure I particularly care what Professor Tim Hunt, FRS thinks about women. I am however grateful I never worked for the man as it might have been a pretty Continue reading

Posted in Royal Society, Tim Hunt, WCSJ, Women in science | Leave a comment

Faking It

I seem to have given a lot of talks recently in which the phrase ‘faking it’ sat at their heart. You will realise I am not referring to talks about protein aggregation, microscopy or other scientific subjects when the use of such words might imply some decidedly dodgy and unethical practice. Rather, my talks have been about career progression, conf Continue reading

Posted in career progression, independenc, Science Culture, self-confidence | Leave a comment

In which you can take the girl out of the lab…

I suppose most scientists have the problem of taking their work home with them. And by this I don’t mean the stacks of papers you need to read, or the manuscript you’re writing, or the grant application you’re still cobbling together one day before the deadline. No, I mean the tendency we scientists have of seeing everything throu Continue reading

Posted in Gardening, Scientific thinking, The profession of science | Comments Off on In which you can take the girl out of the lab…

On starting small

We’re still here. No need to send a search party… yet.


Posted in Don't try this at home, personal, Photography, rose | Comments Off on On starting small

Science, Culture and All That Jazz

People seem to think that science and culture are two different things. Just as Stefan Collini, in his 2012 book ‘What are Universities for? ’ constantly referred to scientists and scholars, as if scientists were unable to join the (implied elite) club of scholars, culture as usually considered consists of things like music, art, poetry and literat Continue reading

Posted in Communicating Science, Matthew Arnold, Melvyn Bragg, Science Culture, Two Cultures | Comments Off on Science, Culture and All That Jazz

How Broad is Broad?

Most conferences provide food for thought and my participation this week in the Global Scholars Symposium in Cambridge certainly fulfilled my expectations in this respect. Although I was meant to be the one doing the talking, there was also time for Q+A and general discussion with the students under the broad theme of Building Impact: Listen, Learn Continue reading

Posted in career paths, interdisciplinarity, Research, Science Culture, Science policy | Comments Off on How Broad is Broad?

Do you have a sponsor? (Do you need one?)

I have been reading the book by Sylvia Ann Hewlett on sponsorship: (Forget a Mentor) Find a Sponsor. Sylvia very kindly gave me a copy of this book when I met her in March where we were both talking at The Meaning of Success event in New York; she is a fellow alumna of Girton College. She is emphatic that you need sponsors as well as mentors. As sh Continue reading

Posted in advice, careers, mentors, Science Culture | Comments Off on Do you have a sponsor? (Do you need one?)

We’ve all got troubles (including the Open Science Framework)

Surprisingly to some and not-so-surprisingly to others, we scientists have our own fair share of troubles in the way we perform our day job – bias, fraud, irreproducibility, lost results, bad data management, difficulty in publishing non-conclusive results. We also have trouble with finding research funding, pressure to publish in high prof Continue reading

Posted in bias, Open Science Network, scientific publishing, The Trouble with Scientists | Comments Off on We’ve all got troubles (including the Open Science Framework)

On the Loss of a Giant

At the turn of the year I wrote about the death of Ed Kramer, one of the two key people in my life who turned me into the person I am as a scientist. I am deeply saddened to learn about the death of the other crucial individual who influenced the course of my career so substantially, Sir Sam Edwards. I have written previously a little about Sam but Continue reading

Posted in Cavendish Professor, Science Culture, Sir Sam Edwards, soft matter physics | Comments Off on On the Loss of a Giant

Being an expert in (membrane) recycling has perks!

This morning I awoke to the following email (and yes, “OMICS” does it again):

Dear Dr. Steve Caplan,

Greetings of the day. Hope you are doing well. Continue reading

Posted in barcelona, emminence, endocytosis, humor, mitosis, OMICS, recycling, Research, science | Comments Off on Being an expert in (membrane) recycling has perks!

Knowledge versus Experience

One of the things that is always said about teaching is that it shows you what you do or don’t know. You can’t flannel an explanation to a student who keeps asking probing questions though you may manage to do it to yourself. They may be questions that approach a topic in some way you had never considered before but rapidly realise is i Continue reading

Posted in career progression, Communicating Science, mentoring, public speaking, Science Culture | Comments Off on Knowledge versus Experience