Monthly Archives: January 2014


Scientific thought is a huge collaborative effort. The data, thoughts, hypotheses, etc. of others are fair game for any researcher to utilize in their work. The caveat is that all such work must be properly attributed. Students will often make ‘petit plagiarisms’ where it is clear that they are referring to a certain work, and then quote it verbatim without quotation marks. I have also seen where students will list references, but not cite within the paper. Occasionally, a reference may be omitted, but the student is not claiming to have developed the concept of niche partioning – all this is within what I would call an honest mistake. When a student hands in a paper that is the wikipedia¬†entry verbatim, they are blatantly claiming another’s work as their own and this is bad.

In the huge collaborative effort called scientific thought there is peer review, where we read each other’s paper prior to review. This process is extremely flawed and helpful. There are the before submission reviews where the manuscript goes to friends who make comments and the post submission reviews where unknown reviewers make comments. The anonymity of these reviewers is essential, but also means that there is no credit given for extremely hard work – it is done for the common good of the collaborative effort.

By the time somebody has published a couple of scientific papers, and maybe gotten a Doctorate, it is assumed they should know how to avoid plagiarism. I still make mistakes citing items and very much appreciate when a reviewer helps me out. This is a very not funny cartoon about a very not funny subject. I am still trying to make sense of this paper I was asked to review that blatantly claimed another person’s concept as their own.



Everything poops!

Often, biologists identify animals by their sign. This can be the characteristic scratches some species leave on trees, a unique nest, or some other artifact. Often this artifact is poop. It is no big secret, that when it comes to animals, everything poops. Today, as I was processing dung beetles from some samples from 2011, I came across something I have never had the opportunity to see before – dung beetle poop – specifically Onthophagus taurus poop. This is a poop made by animal that eats poop, or poop squared.

2014-01-01 10.00.40The specimen in question must have defecated when it hit the antifreeze that I use in the pitfall trap and then the poop remained excreted, but attached, through the alcohol storage and subsequent pinning before microscope examination for specific determination. Needless to say, this is a most auspicious start to a new year that I hope will be filled with exciting discoveries!

I hope that 2014 is filled with interesting and wonderful discoveries for all of you also – HAPPY NEW YEAR!