Friday, March 30, 2007


This is the study of the DNA of entire communities of microbes, and is the subject of a new report from the US National Research Council.

Read the NRC report.

Read about the report in The Biochemist (it is thanks to an email from Frank Norman, Librarian of the NIMR in London, to a discussion list, that I know about this) and in Science.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Canadian Medical Association Journal

Two things in the issue for 27th March 2007 that caught my eye:

An editorial about research misconduct, and its investigation in Canada;

A news item about Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, a North American student led organisation that lobbies universities to research neglected diseases and to make drugs available at affordable rates.

Friday, March 23, 2007

World Tuberculosis Day

Is tomorrow, 24th March.

SciDev.Net have a page of news, commentary and features. Stop TB Partnership also have a page of resources.
Reed Elsevier and the arms trade - updated again

I was interested last week (this was in October 2005) to hear that the Lancet had published an editorial questioning how Reed Elsevier (the publisher of the Lancet) can be involved in organising arms fairs, and at the same time be a major health publisher. Reed Elsevier sent a PR person to the Today programme to argue that the arms trade is legitimate and it is better that someone organises things like this responsibly, and that each Elsevier journal was able to hold its own opinions. Perusal of the Lancet itself reveals that there was a letter signed by a dozen or so people, some signing on behalf of campaigning organisations, protesting that Reed Elsevier's involvement with the fair was incompatible with the Lancet's principles. I imagine the editorial was a response to the letter.

The editorial, the letter and a response from Reed Elsevier to that letter are all available via ScienceDirect

The BMJ published a news piece about all of this, also, at the time.

Updated bit: The BMJ today (16th March 2007) has an editorial about this whole issue: There are links to campaign materials on this topic. The editorial argues that this is not the BMJ attacking a rival journal, and that the BMJ does not want to see the Lancet "diminished". Personally, I remember being struck in my first professional post, in a library with vast collections of historic medical journals, by the campaigning nature of the Lancet. I personally wonder how compatible this campaigning nature is with a publisher that organises arms fairs, however independent each journal is from the publisher that owns it.

Second updated bit: Guardian, 23rd March, has a report about the number of letters published in this week's Lancet about this.

Kidney Diseases Specialist Library

This is a new part of the National Library for Health, at, and includes information on renal tract infection and kidney diseases in adults and children, and basic information on renal tract cancer. Information is aimed at health professionals and at patients and carers.

In our time: microbiology

While driving the other day, I found this BBC Radio 4 programme, which at the time was talking about the place of microbes in evolution. You can listen again to the programme at

Thursday, March 22, 2007

AORN Journal : March 2007

March 2007, 85(3) is on my desk and contains articles on total anomalous pulmonary venous connection, perioperative care of the immunocompromised patient, research into whether preoperative anxiety level predicts postoperative pain, research into factors influencing how perioperative nurses report errors. Then there are papers on distance learning in perioperative nurse education, and from Walter Reed Medical Center on whether "loaner" instruments were decontaminated - these are instruments owned by a company and loaned to the hospital. The "clinical issues" column includes discussion of antibiotic resistance and of C. Diff.

AORN Journal is

Neurologic complications of influenza

Plenty of things being published about influenza, of course - use our influenza webpages to link to a PubMed search that will update you - but this caught my eye:

Newland JG et al. Neurologic complications in children hospitalized with influenza: characteristics, incidence, and risk factors. Journal of Pediatrics 2007; 150(3): 306-10.

The authors reviewed all children hospitalized in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia with influenza, looking for neurologic complications, which included encephalopathy and seizures.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Reed Elsevier and arms fairs

More about campaigns on the Campaign against the Arms Trade site at See an earlier posting on this blog for more background.

Lancet special issue on COPD

The Lancet is planning a special issue on COPD, to coincide with the European Respiratory Society's annual meeting in September. They have issued a call for papers, especially those based on work that is to be presented at the meeting, papers to be submitted by 18th May. More details here (Athens login needed if off campus).

Friday, March 16, 2007

Pi Day

Thanks to the Internet Scout Report I now know about Pi Day, but unfortunately I have missed this years, which was on the 14th March. The official Pi Day website is at, and if you want to see the digits of pi beyond what my old school calculator would go to (3.1415926, I think?), you can see them at, or at

And Internet Scout Report, which sends a weekly update of useful websites, is at

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Where renal research is published

A paper in Kidney International in December last year (brought to my attention in an email from Cathy Jordan, Medical Librarian at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC, to the MEDLIB-L list) examined where renal research was published. The authors looked at 2779 primary studies, identified through 195 systematic reviews. 49 percent were published in the top 20 journals on the resulting list. 10 of those journals were not renal journals. The remaining 51 percent of papers were published in 446 different journals. Therefore, almost half of renal research is published in non renal journals, and the authors say in the abstract:

"Browsing the top journals is important. However, relevant studies are also scattered across a large range of journals that may not be routinely scanned by busy physicians, and keeping up with this literature requires other continuing education strategies."

Browsing can be done in a library, if they happen to have the top journals in print, or by signing up to receive electronic tables of contents for those journals. Your "other continuing education strategies" could include setting up an alert search in Medline or another database, for material in a particular subject. Or your librarian could do this for you. The whole of renal medicine might be too big for this, but your particular interests in it might not be.

The authors of the paper include McKibbon and Haynes of McMaster University, and the abstract is here: Links to full text will work if you subscribe (we do, at Leicester). The reference is:

Garg AX, Iansavichus AV, Kastner M, Walters LA, Wilczynski N, McKibbon KA, et al. Lost in publication: Half of all renal practice evidence is published in non-renal journals. Kidney Int. 2006;70(11):1995-2005.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Electron microscopy, kinases and C. elegans

Three websites I now know about, thanks to the WebWatch column in the journal Biotechniques (

That column in the March issue contains details of an elcetron microscopy site at the Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule Zurich, at It has information on how the various techniques work, as well as selected images.

The same column also has details of BANMOKI, a database of bacterial nucleoside monophosphate kinases (, and WormBook, an online review of the biology of C. elegans ( This is open access and includes protocols, biology, genomics and a lot else.

Friday, March 09, 2007


A colleague and I taught a "Google and beyond" class recently, looking at advanced search techniques and other web tools. We included a bit on Web 2.0 (or some of it - I think I am too old for some of it) and mentioned Wikipedia.

So it was interesting to see this - - in today's Independent. Someone who has edited many entries on Wikipedia, who appeared to be a professor of religion, turns out to be a "twenty something" with no expertise in the area. He has been used as an expert in factual disputes at Wikipedia, and has been quoted as an expert by the New York Times.

I don't think that everyone who edits entries on Wikipedia is pretending to be someone they are not. I imagine many are knowledgeable enthusiasts for their subject. There was an article in the Times (or London) last weekend about some of the editors. I do wonder if particular subjects attract this sort of controversy, or the sort of tampering that has been talked about in various places, with people editing their own entries, or adding in scurrilous things to other people's. But it is an interesting phenomenon to talk about in our classes...

Here are links to two ResourceShelf posts about Wikipedia, one from 24 February and one from 7 March.

And here is a link to a Guardian story about a course at University of East Anglia (Norwich, UK) which assesses students on their editing articles for Wikipedia.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Freedom of Information

Interesting piece in the Education Guardian today outlining changes to the Freedom of Information Act.

Apparently it will be permissible for organisations to amalgamate separate enquiries and deal with them as one. There is already a "cap" on the cost of dealing with an enquiry, and if the cost goes over the cap, the organisation does not have to answer the enquiry. Two amalgamated enquiries will be more expensive and the article argues that it will be easier for organisations to decline to answer. This will, they argue, harm research.

Read the article at,,2027123,00.html