What Does Biotech Really Suffer From? Information Overload, or Underload?
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other journals, such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, The Journal of Biological Chemistry, Cancer Research, The Journal of Experimental Medicine, Genes and Development, Genetics, FASEB Journal, and about 50 others. Keyword searches would help you focus on those topics specifically of interest to you.
These days, the Big Three journals have grown and divided like the bacteria that they often report on. Science, still a stand-alone journal, has spun off Science Signaling and Science Translational Medicine. Nature publishes not just its primary journal but also Nature Biotechnology, Nature Cell Biology, Nature Chemical Biology, Nature Genetics, Nature Immunology, Nature Medicine, Nature Neuroscience, and a whole host of Nature Review journals. Cell has morphed into Molecular Cell, Cell Cancer Cell, Developmental Cell, and Cell Metabolism, all in addition to the flagship Cell.
The rising cost of journal subscriptions has led to the growth of open source, free online journals such as those published by the nonprofit Public Library of Science (PLoS). While the trend is admirable, especially for those on a tight budget, the number of free journals is still dwarfed by those that you need to pay to access. And while I haven’t done a formal survey, it is clear that most of the papers that I try to access online are not freely available.
In the past, an inelegant solution to the journal access problem was to simply pay a visit to a local university or research institution’s biomedical library that subscribed to the journal(s) of interest. You could read them for free and photocopy those articles that you wanted for a minimal fee. Not nearly as convenient as having a decent library down the hall, but at least you could access the information. These days, a variant of this workaround is still a viable option. While most institutions no longer get a substantial number of physical copies of their journals (a result of space constraints and high storage costs), they can provide computer access to their extensive journal subscriptions for guests to their libraries. The primary problem for visitors is overcoming personal inertia to get to the library, and once there, you have to hope there is an available computer to use. This all assumes, of course, that you work in close physical proximity to a well-equipped medical library.
Reading (or even scanning) multiple journals certainly isn’t a formal job requirement, and many scientists don’t do it as a rule. Many years ago a graduate school advisor opined that 95 percent of the scientific literature was “crap” and could be safely ignored. Experience has shown me, however, that being widely read has significant advantages. It enhances collaboration. It facilitates your ability to make connections, to see relationships, to partake of a bigger picture. This, in turn, can lead to insights, to breakthroughs, to innovation. Others would argue the opposite view, that all of the “extraneous” reading simply dilutes one’s focus from the primary goal … Next Page »