Our lab manager mentioned that some journals are starting to ask for certification to prove that the cell lines described in submitted manuscripts have tested negative for mycoplasma contamination during the course of the study (for the uninitiated, mycoplasma are bacteria that can seriously interfere with the interpretation of any data generated from cultured cells, which they manage to infect with great frequency and, seemingly, glee). No certificates, no publication. I think this is an excellent idea; however, I’ve written, edited or been otherwise involved with the submission of dozens of manuscripts of this kind, and I’ve never heard of such a practice, which I also would have expected to show up on at least one of the blogs I read. Was this just a ploy to make procrastinators hand over their cells for testing (said lab manager has been asking for weeks for people to prepare and assemble their cells), or should I really be buying shares in mycoplasma testing companies?
The meeting also included a presentation by a grad student who’s been with us for a while, but is just starting a new side project. The student spent the first two thirds or so of their short talk describing their efforts to optimise the various sample preparation steps… and the remaining time describing a hypothetical dataset that reflects the results they might reasonably expect to see once the assay’s running. This included a description of how the data would be generated, measured, normalised, and analysed. I’ve never seen anyone do this before, but I think it’s actually a fantastic idea for someone who’s just starting a new project; the feedback you get on your planned analysis could help you optimise the assay and choose the best controls before you even start, for example, and you’ll probably get better feedback when showing a mock analysis using actual numbers, rather than describing your plans in more abstract terms. Thoughts?
Video clips in talks are great. So are robots. Showing video clips of robots doing awesome stuff will make every bona fide geek in the room go “COOOOOOL!!!!” simultaneously.
“Regardless of the total number of slides to be presented, lab meetings will expand to fill every last minute of the time allotted to them”. Discuss.
"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010