Uh, “Stuff” Scientists Say, and some context

This is a little overdue, in terms of memes, but relevant to my talking about science thing, so here goes. I have no idea how much of this is accessible to a non-scientific audience, but feel free to ask questions if you have any. Or to add anything, if you do have a scientific background.

It would be lazy of me to dump a video and not talk about anything. Especially a parody, since it would probably help to try and give a little bit more context for that. So let’s talk about some of the things that appeared in the video a little bit further, taking them out of the “joke” context a bit.

First, the “clear trend” jokes that appeared in the first ten seconds. This is part of why other people who understand the field needs to verify that the conclusions the authors come to in a paper are actually supported by the data. Yes, some people will be spot on and their conclusions will be strongly supported by the data. Other conclusions might be less convincing, or might overreach what they can actually say. But without being trained in that particular field, knowing which is which is really hard. Actually, even in the first few years of receiving that training, it can be pretty hard, but don’t tell my professors that I said so.

And what is that guy who wants monkeys and hamster ovaries and virgin flies working on, anyway? The joke is illustrating that scientists may ask to borrow weird things, but I want to point out that different people will probably be asking for all of those different things. Not the same person. It’s a lot more common to see people sticking with one organism per project. Usually per multiple projects. Please don’t ask me specifics about working with any of those three animals, though, because I never have and don’t intend to.

Science and Nature are both very prestigious journals to publish in. And being the third author means being the third person listed on the paper as an author. Papers can have anywhere between one and infinity authors, with maybe somewhere between five and ten being the most common, give or take a few. The most important positions are first author and corresponding author. The first author is the person who actually wrote the paper, and the person whose project this is. The corresponding author is usually the professor in whose lab the experiment was done, and so is responsible for planning, ideas, and funding. The corresponding author is generally listed last.

Hopefully some of this will be useful or entertaining to someone. Feedback or constructive criticism would be great, so I can figure out how to structure these posts. Questions are also great, especially if they can prompt another post.

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