In line with the recent beetle boom on ScienceOpen, a researcher led collection on Coleoptera has been created on ScienceOpen. In the following interview founder and editor of the collection, Rolf Georg Beutel (Professor of Zoology at the Institut für Spezielle Zoologie und Evolutionsbiologie, Jena) will share a little background and gives us an insight on how it works in practice, how such thematic collections serve research communities. And of course, he will also reveal why beetles are cool.
Hi Rolf, thank you for joining. Can you first tell us a bit about your research background, and how you originally got interested in Entomology? Why did you choose to study Coleoptera?
I must admit that in contrast to many other entomologists I was not interested in insects at all as a child or later as a student of Zoology at the University of Tübingen. I was clearly inspired by an eccentric but outstanding academic teacher, Dr. G. Mickoleit, who suggested I should investigate the head and mouthparts of a very small and very cryptic beetle larva. Even though I had a hard time with my first objects of study, I obviously got hooked and continued studying beetles and other insects for the rest of my scientific career.
Why did you decide to build a ScienceOpen Collection on Coleoptera?
Dr. Stephanie Dawson, whom I have known for more than 10 years, mainly in the context of the Handbook of Zoology series, suggested to me to establish this ScienceOpen collection on beetles. My positive previous experience with her expertise and also with ScienceOpen was confirmed by the impressively efficient process of building and presenting this collection.
Coleoptera is one of the first automatically synchronized collections on ScienceOpen. What were the main principles of building the collection and how it develops?
Coleoptera is an immensely diverse and popular group. The intention was to go beyond the traditional fields of taxonomy and morphology, even though these have certainly their merits and are still very important in different contexts. The established data base will continuously grow and extend, integrating an ever increasing number of open access studies.
Do you have favourite pieces or lines of research in the collection that you find especially relevant to this field?
Primarily I consider myself as a systematist, and therefore I am interested in articles on phylogeny and classification in the first place. Even though many publications in these fields are older and not available as electronic files (or not covered by open access), the new collection already provides an impressive number of relevant studies and will grow with an accelerated rate in the future.
As an evolutionary biologist dealing with beetles among other groups of insects, I appreciate that the data base covers multiple lines of research, as for instance genetics or physiology. This has the potential for reciprocal stimulation of researchers of Coleoptera, beyond the basic disciplines like systematics and taxonomy. These are indispensable tools in biodiversity research and provide an essential reference system for studies in other fields. Connected with topics like for instance the physiological and genetic backgrounds of feeding habits or reproductive biology, evolutionary biology of Coleoptera is getting really exciting. The very rapidly growing molecular data in the “age on phylogenomics” open fascinating perspectives in the investigation of beetles and other organisms.
In which ways your research community benefits from the collection?
The easy accessibility of open access articles on beetles is an obvious advantage of this collection.
Finally, tell us about what is the coolest thing in studying entomology?
Beetles are often very beautiful insects and have attracted attention very early, for instance as religious symbol (Scarabaeus sacer) or material for jewellery, or also simply as food source. Among amateur collectors, who made valuable contributions over the last centuries, only butterflies enjoy a comparable popularity. Talking about what is cool about Coleoptera, it is hard to avoid a statement made by the geneticist and evolutionary biologist J.B.S. Haldane, who allegedly said that God had an “inordinate fondness of beetles”. This mainly refers to the incredible diversity of the group, which presently comprises approximately 380.000 described species, about one-third of all known organisms. The question why Coleoptera was much more successful (in terms of species numbers) than other groups is an intriguing question in itself for evolutionary biologists. Aside from this, beetles are an integrative part of nearly all terrestrial and limnic habitats. Many species are important plant pests but others beneficial as natural enemies of harmful species. What fascinates me most is that after centuries of research crucial phylogenetic issues are still unsolved, like for instance the interrelationships of the 4 extant suborders (“it is the glory of God to conceal things….”). Presently exponentially growing molecular data sets and improved analytical approaches (www.1KITE.org) provide new powerful tools to resolve these issues. This is definitely “cool” and exciting!
Thank you, Rolf, it’s been great getting your insight!
‘Research hasn’t been completed until it has been properly communicated.’ This is one of the great mantras of Prof. Sir Mark Walport, Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK government. What this means is that all research needs and deserves to be communicated to as wide an audience as possible, and published in an accessible format, in order to maximise its potential impact. To that end, we asked Lisa Matthias, who recently published her Master’s research with us at ScienceOpen, to tell us more about her work and what she found. Here’s her story!
Recently, I published my Masters thesis all about the politicization of US Supreme Court by partisan media. The background behind my research is that partisan news outlets cater their reports to specific partisan groups that have distinct ideological beliefs. These channels broadcast one-sided coverage, which constantly reinforces and strengthens their target audience’s political beliefs, while adopting a hostile position towards opposing views at the same time. This is most deeply highlighted in the US because of the highly polarising nature of the two-party political system.
To achieve such one-sided reporting, news stories are framed. Framing refers to how a story is told, and involves selecting and highlighting certain aspects of it, while others are explicitly neglected. The goal is to encourage a particular interpretation or evaluation of the presented information. Let’s take the Supreme Court’s ruling of legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide as an example. By shifting the audience’s focus to specific pieces of information, such as equal rights, religion, or opposing groups, the decision can be framed in terms of equality, morality, or conflict, respectively.
When people form an opinion they typically take into account all the information available to them. In the case of the Supreme Court, however, it is predominantly the media that provides that information, because the Court is generally detached from the public. This means the media has great control over the information that the public bases its opinion on about the Court and, therefore, the media also affects how the public perceives the Court. However, reporters are often left to interpret the Court’s decisions and to speculate about possible consequences, but they lack the intensive legal training that is essential to fully understand the Court’s highly specified rulings. In trying to make sense of the decisions, journalists might focus on the Justices’ personal and ideological views instead of on the legal reasoning behind the ruling. The consequence of all this is that media coverage of the Supreme Court has become increasingly politicized. On the other hand, the Court wants to convey an image of itself as an apolitical institution, which is described as being guided by legal principles, instead of personal interests, which is more characteristic of politicians.
Last week, we kicked off a series interviewing some of the top ‘open scientists’ by interviewing Dr. Joanne Kamens of Addgene, and had a look at some of the great work she’d been doing in promoting a culture of data sharing, and equal opportunity for researchers. Today, we’re bringing you another open science star, Dr. Gal Schkolnik, who recently published a really cool Collection with us on the bacterium Shewanella. Here’s her story!
Hi Gal! So can you tell us a bit about your research background, and how you originally got interested in science?
I did my BSc in Chemistry at the Tel Aviv University and my MSc at the Weizmann Institute, analyzing the chemical composition of deforestation-fire smoke from the Amazon, where farmers and corporations yearly set hectares of rainforest on fire for agriculture and pasture. For my PhD at the Technische Universitaet Berlin I measured the electric fields at protein surfaces and self-assembled monolayers. Now I’m researching Shewanella, an electroactive bacterium that can transfer electrons across its outer membrane. As you can see, I always start on a completely new field, because my greatest passion in life is acquiring knowledge – so learning something new is my favorite kind of challenge. I’m basically just a kid who never got over the “why” stage, haha. Plus I had some very inspiring teachers at school – two wonderful women who nurtured my natural tendency to go deep in pursuit of answers to the hardest questions.
People who have no access to journal subscriptions can use ScienceOpen to gain more knowledge about electroactive bacteria and their possible applications.
One of the trickiest parts about launching anything new, also true for PLOS ONE too back in the day (hard to believe now!), is that the best way to explain what you do is to show it in action. Since we only officially launched in May, we’ve been watching some interesting use-cases develop, by which we mean ScienceOpen articles with Non-Anonymous Post-Publication Peer Review (PPPR). Even though we publish with DOI in about a week, it’s taken a little longer for the reviewers to have their say (reviews also receive a DOI), but we’re finding that what they say is well worth reading.
These articles and their associated reviews reassure us that PPPR, which some feel is still pretty radical, is a nascent but potentially healthy way to improve the way we review research. They also start to show that PPPR can benefit all sorts of research. If it can work for less spectacular, negative or contradictory research, then perhaps it will shine for once in a lifetime findings (which are of course far more rare).
What do these use-cases tell us? Mostly that its early days, so meaningful observations are perhaps premature! However, here are some thoughts:
The reviewers that are being invited to the scientific conversation are participating and broadening the debate
The reviews are respectfully delivered with a straightforward tone, even when critical (probably because they are Non-Anon)
It’s good to see papers from the medical community, arguably the quintessential OA use-case for researchers, patients, their families and friends
The reviewers are appropriately matched to the content, authors can suggest up to 10 and anyone with 5 or more publications on their ORCID iD can review any content on the platform
The authors are largely, but not exclusively, from our Editorial Boards (no surprises here since they are usually the first to support a new publishing venture and are more senior so are freer to experiment)
Reading Non-Anon PPPR is a new skill requiring balancing a scholars background with their reviews and comparing/contrasting them with those of the others
None of these authors have yet used Versioning to revise their original articles in the light of reviewer feedback received (although this article is now on version 2)
Anyways, we hope you enjoy watching how PPPR at ScienceOpen evolves as much as we do! Feel free to leave a comment on this post to continue the conversation.
To mark the publication of her first ScienceOpen article, Nitika, who is also a member of our Editorial Board, prepared this video which is compelling both for what she says and how she says it – with a great deal of commitment!
Just 35 seconds into the video, a big smile spreads over Nitika’s face as she starts to talk about Open Access (OA) and her fist goes up as she says “more power to Open Access”! From then on, she discusses her real-life experiences of not having access to journals when she was training in India, wanting to spare others the same experience and why OA was therefore “the jewel for me”. Nitika’s enthusiasm for OA is infectious and energizing, she calls it a “pure movement”, says it is a way to “give back to the community” and believes it is going to permeate all sections of society, helping knowledge to spread. Continue reading “Welcome to author Nitika Pant Pai – impassioned OA advocate!”
Our interview series continues with a quick chat with ScienceOpen Editorial Board Member and recent ScienceOpen author Professor Miguel Andrade. His paper, entitled “FASTA Herder: A web application to trim protein sequence sets,” ( http://goo.gl/4qa7Ez ) presents a publicly available web application that uses an algorithm to identify redundant sequence homologs in protein databases.
Today’s interview continues both the Author and the Editorial Board Interview Series with a conversation between ScienceOpen and Nikos Karamanos, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Patras in Greece. Professor Karamanos is one of the authors of the recent ScienceOpen publication, “EGF/EGFR signaling axis is a significant regulator of the proteasome expression and activity in colon cancer cells” ( http://goo.gl/XD9R0L ), and an established scholar, Editorial Board member for various journals, and chair and organizer of numerous conferences. He is principal investigator Continue reading “ScienceOpen Author Interview Series – Nikos Karamanos”
Today’s author interview comes from Carol Perez-Iratxeta ( http://goo.gl/fwloa7 ), a bioinformatics researcher based at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) in Ottawa, Canada. Her research concerns data mining and computational genomic analysis applied to human disease.
ScienceOpen continues our series of interviews with our new authors with Professor Lorenzo Iorio (https://www.scienceopen.com/profile/lorenzo_iorio ), who has just published an article on ScienceOpen entitled „Orbital effects of a monochromatic plane gravitational wave with ultra-low frequency incident on a gravitationally bound two-body system.“ ( http://goo.gl/kCYgwd )