Biocurious is a weblog about biology, quantified.

Things that biophysicists often do that real biologists never do?

by PhilipJ on 21 February 2008

Reference Alberts et al‘s Molecular Biology of the Cell in journal articles.



  1. sam    3352 days ago    #

    why?


  2. PhilipJ    3352 days ago    #

    I’m not entirely sure. You never see biophysics papers written by people who would consider themselves biologists reference Serway’s Physics for Scientists and Engineers, so I’m not sure why physicists think it is appropriate to reference Alberts. Why the primary literature isn’t referenced instead always confuses me.


  3. Eva    3352 days ago    #

    Really? That’s weird…


  4. Tyler    3352 days ago    #

    Are you saying they’ve not mastered the art of finding who Albert’s cited and citing those articles instead?


  5. Frederick Ross    3351 days ago    #

    On the other hand, it’s perfectly normal to reference Landau and Lifshitz or similar texts which have completely assimilated the primary literature. Going back to the original research papers would be a waste of time compared to reading the relevant section of L&L.

    The problem isn’t that physicists want to reference books. It’s that the biologists don’t write books that can be referenced.

    For my part I’m always astonished when anyone reads Alberts, much less references it.


  6. PhilipJ    3351 days ago    #

    Tyler – no, I’m sure they could do that. But my thought is that (non-bio)physicists who read the article would never care to go to the primary literature, and they don’t expect biologists to read their papers. This does both physicists and biologists a real injustice in my opinion.

    Frederick – L&Ls are of a considerably higher level than Alberts is in the respective fields. I think Alberts is a fine text for introductory ideas to molecular biology, but that shouldn’t be the end point for a biophysicist looking into some problem in biology. And it definitely shouldn’t make it onto the reference list in a Nature Physics or PRL article.


  7. Black Knight    3347 days ago    #

    And this biologist is the laughing. You biophysicists are missing the funny by analysing the post in the comments :)


  8. Mark James Adams    3345 days ago    #

    The equivalent for evolutionary psychologists is citing Campbell & Reece.


  9. PonderingFool    3345 days ago    #

    On the other hand, it’s perfectly normal to reference Landau and Lifshitz or similar texts which have completely assimilated the primary literature. Going back to the original research papers would be a waste of time compared to reading the relevant section of L&L. *************************

    As long as the book/review has the point correct. For a grant, my lab dug back through reviews that referenced earlier reviews all the way to the original research article. What did we find? The article actual said the opposite of what had been cited and propagated.


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