[proteomics] Re: Everyone Has All The Answers, I Guess

  • From: "Ipek Bosgelmez" <ipek4477@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: proteomics@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2007 17:48:24 +0200

Actually, I have only few answers compared to my long list of questions, I
think this is sth expected because I am a freshman in proteomics. Proteomics
seems to be "looking for a needle in the hay". Several weeks ago, a senior
-interested mainly in genomics- saw the 2D-gel image, and said that I should
be amazed with this "universe with all these shiny stars" in it. What is
more important I think, among those spots, only some of them are detected as
If we had all the answers, why would we be doing these experiments and
mistakes, am I wrong? We are gathering experience in our lab; when somebody
is around when I make a mistake or progress, I can share it. In this
respect, I agree, we do not ask for other's opinion most of the time,
however I think SMH is an exception since almost all the questions are asked
to him at lab. EBA is right:) Hope to learn more in the proteomics-freelist
and looking forward to receiving new mails.

Ipek B.

On 1/31/07, Mavi Gozler <mavigozler@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

I find it somewhat amazing that scientists do not seem to be using other
scientists as sources of information perhaps on subjects in science in
general and on subjects in proteomics in particular. At least in forums like

The activity (postings) in this particular discussion list, as a check of
the archives will reveal, have been solely mine.  And I have really not made
a dent with respect to contributions in the field of proteomics, so what can
I really have to say about it?  My group is just starting to get some things
submitted now, which is amazing considering our particular working
environment (our adminstrative bureaucrats) does everything it can to make
us completely uncompetitive.

But getting back to the subject, I really don't see scientists using other
scientists as sources of information for science.

Let me qualify that actually.

Certainly within one's laboratory working group, particularly in
laboratories whose professorial head properly insists on holding at least
weekly progress meetings by which lab members rotate in giving
reports/summaries/presentations of their work so that they might get
suggestions and useful guidance on sticking points, there is a lot of input
and questions-and-answers that move the science along.  And students and/or
postdocs might often find conversations with experienced faculty and staff
in the department or college or institute just as helpful.

But it rarely, if ever, seems to be the case that scientists will think to
find information in a direct Q&A on the Internet through any forum.

Only a few sci.* newsgroups on the Usenet have activity that would be
considered to have a pulse.  Although mass spectrometry is becoming more of
a useful tool to biologists and proteomists, the sci.techniques.mass-specgroup 
gets maybe 30 posts a month, and quite a few of those from a reseller
of MS systems (those are helpful in my view too).

The creation of the BITNET (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitnet) was
largely an effort to get academic staff between universities to share info
and ideas, and it died on the vine basically.

With the exception of the one-on-one use of email (private messaging), it
seems that academics still prefer the traditional non-online ways of sharing
info and ideas, such as the intralaboratory group interactions, the
telephone, and national and international science meetings/symposia.  They
have given much less consideration to discussion lists (public messaging) or
(Usenet) newsgroups.

What do you do when you get stuck?

I suppose some professors teach that when you get blocked going down one
path, abandon it rather than possibly waste valuable time trying to find a
way around the block.  Continue walking down the other paths you have
already mapped for yourself and try to make progress on each one or a
particularly critical one.   This is sort of the multiple pots (projects)
boiling rule:  when one pot goes to slow or boils badly or burns, turn off
the heat (attention) to it, and tend to the other pots.  A professor would
fault a student who did not have more than one pot boiling (project going or
in preparation) at a time.

A student taking one's problem or question about a difficulty to the
Usenet or a discussion group would probably be judged by a professor as the
student wasting his or her time...as a student not having made the
realization that the project has come to a hopeless stopping or blocking

In other words, when one has to resort to taking a question to a large
worldwide forum, one must recognize that one has reached the point requiring
abandonment of the project.  Is that not true of the kind of thinking going
on in many, if not all, cases?

I suppose another reason there is little to no activity in these types of
forums is the hesitance to pose questions that might have resulted from a
prior experience of posting questions and getting unhelpful or snide replies
or answers that the poster had not given much thought to the subject, or had
been lazy to do background work on the matter, or that the poster should "do
his own homework."  Unfortunately there is a lot of that incivility around.

The fault I find here is not in the person posing the question though.  I
find the fault in the misanthrope posting such a reply.  If the misanthrope
feels the poster was too lazy to do minimal work in finding the answer, then
don't reply at all rather than posting just a purely hateful answer.  Snide,
unnecessarily critical replies without any constructive help or
encouragement have no business ever being posted, in my own opinion.

Of course language and the fear of being unable to communicate one's
meaning is always a consideration.  I am a native English speaker---yeah,
it's hard to tell from some of those awkward sentences above, right?----and
I think English is an awful, illogical language to learn, especially as a
2nd language.  (And I am fluent in two human languages, and forgot how to be
fluent in a 3rd, so I have a fair idea of what is a good international
language.)  But English is spoken or understood to different degrees of
fluency by more than half the world's population, and so it looks like we
are stuck with it (unless someone wants to try to get Esperanto off the
ground again).  I hope the shyness to post is not because one is afraid of
not composing the perfect sentence or paragraph in English.

Or maybe there is little or no activity to this discussion group or the
science newsgroups I read because everyone gets the answers to their
questions in ways more rapid than waiting for responses to a worldwide
group.  Or people are satisfied not to get the answers at all.

I know I don't have all the answers.  I am lucky to have answers to even a
few questions, for that matter.

Such as the answer to the question of where people are getting the answers
to their questions.

Best wishes for your continuing successes and achievements,

--- SMH

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