Monday 24 July 2017

On the importance of controls, even when the tools are computational

NB. this content is reposted from an article I wrote for the NZSBMB "Southern Blot" newsletter.

I thought I’d talk about something else, something I find particularly interesting: Negative Controls4! I have worked with researchers who proudly talk about how many lanes of their gels are dedicated to their negative controls, and I’m sure all researchers spend a lot of time and effort on developing appropriate negative controls. Which is great. Yet, some researchers when they move from the wet-lab to sitting in front of a computer will forget about running negative controls on their bioinformatic experiments too. I did mention this issue in my talk in the context of our investigation into the interplay behind the speed and accuracy of bioinformatic tools3.

Negative Controls are a backbone of research, and an important component of the definition of P-values that are frequently used to report the significance of findings 5 (the “null” distribution/hypothesis is of course a form of negative control).

Monday 13 April 2015

NZ's hottest researchers from 2012-2014.

Roughly two years ago I blogged "NZ's hottest researchers from 2010-2012" (updated figure), this was a list of NZ-based researchers that had published several papers that had been cited 10 or more times between 2010 and 2012.

I thought it was about time to update this listing and I had some spare time over the Xmas holidays to work on this (hayfever at my in-law's place in Taranaki laid me out for a day or two). I'm now finishing this up during the Easter holidays. Has anything changed in the past two years? I was also curious to find out which funding agencies were funding these researchers and whether the researchers they published was open access or not.

Friday 22 August 2014

A response to the New Zealand Government's National Statement of Science Investment from the Rutherford Discovery Fellows

The New Zealand Government recently requested feedback on their "National Statement of Science Investment". New Zealand is a wonderful place to live and work. However, research and development in this country is chronically underfunded (e.g. What's So Special About Science (And How Much Should We Spend on It?). Consequently, our response is fairly predictable. Feel free to read it on figshare.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Opening up research proposals

I'm involved with a submission to the Knight News Challenge called "opening up research proposals". The basic idea is to make more funding applications publicly accessible. In the hope that this will increase collaboration, reduce unethical application recycling and generally make the world a happier and more productive place.

I think I have to practise what I'm preaching. Therefore I have made my Rutherford Discovery Fellowship Application available via figshare.

Ten suggestions for selecting a research topic

Paul P. Gardner1 and Venkateswarlu Pulakanam2

1. Biomolecular Interactions Centre and School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
2. College of Business and Law, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Selecting a research project is one of the most important decisions researchers at any stage of their career can make [1][2][3]. This is of particular importance for early-career academics. An early selection of the wrong project can have a negative impact on later career options. We believe it is very important to invest time mulling over which of the infinitude of projects we can investigate. In the following we present a number of ideas that will mitigate the risk of failure before embarking on a project. We target our suggestions for younger scientists, however, more experienced researchers may also benefit from these ideas. We hope that this will further your career goals, rather than sap your will to live.
The project management literature contains a number of useful tools for identifying good projects. Tools like SMART criteria [4] for identifying sensible objectives and SWOT analyses [5] for selecting good projects are handy additions to include in your strategic approach to research.
We have identified 10 key tools that we believe are of particular benefit to early-career scientists.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

A PhD position is available in my group!

I have one exciting opportunity for a lucky applicant. If you're interested in RNA, Bioinformatics and living in our little village on the underside of the planet then please follow the instructions in my advertisement.