The best of TME (for the last two months)

I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for year-end lists. Ten biggest science discoveries. Fifty best albums of 2014. They make fantastic procrastination fodder, and I’ll comb through each one that crosses my desktop before the New Year.

In the same spirit, I wanted to take a quick reflective look at the past couple months here at The Molecular Ecologist. We are already a third of the way through the tenure of our new influx of contributors (me included), and it might be informative to look at trends in what this diverse group is talking about and think about where the readers of TME would like to see us go in the immediate future.

Since the beginning of November, the new contributors (Arun, Karen, Melissa, Noah, Rob, and Stacy) have authored 36 posts (19,536 words!). Each post averages around 500 words, and is shared on Facebook 37.2 times and gets Tweeted 12.4 times. Speaking of social media, the social media impact awards go to:

Post with the most shares on Facebook

Arun Sethuraman’s “Admixture maps in R for dummies”

I think it is safe to say that folks love a good how-to article, and Arun’s entire series of program R tutorials has been a hit. I’m not sure if one person can continue pumping out R data tutorials on a weekly basis, but I’m sure that each one will be greeted with open arms. If you get sick of seeing so many Circos plots in the journal 6-9 months from now, you’ll know who to blame.

Most Tweeted post

Karen James’ “Hurrah! Hurrah!” DNA barcoding and the lost story of Darwin’s meadow”

This isn’t surprising for two reasons. First, Karen has a huge presence on social media. Second, this is a really good piece on where the history of science meets molecular ecology and back again.

 

What are we writing about?

Contributors tag their posts with a variety of “categories” to help readers go back and find articles that cover certain topics. We’ve attached 35 different tags to our posts over the last couple months, adding up to a total of 117. However, some of these 35 tags were seen more often than others.

Categories

 

Genomics, population genetics, and adaptation are the top three covered categories (9-18 posts), followed by a group of topics with around 6 posts a piece that includes mutation, next-generation sequencing, phylogenetics, software, methods, and natural history. A pretty even spread overall.

It isn’t surprising that contributors are writing a lot about genomics and next-generation sequencing, but it is impressive that the group has highlighted papers that apply these data to questions of natural history, medicine, adaptation, speciation, and conservation.

What journals are we reading?

Part of the task of TME contributors is to expose readers to new/exciting research from across a wide swath of journals. We’ve cited 33 different journals a total of 82 times, ranging from new open, access journals like PeerJ to publishing titans like Science and Nature. We’ve even featured papers that are in the pre-print stage as part of the growing bioRxiv project.

Journals

 

But it stands to reason that Molecular Ecology would be featured prominently among the featured articles on TME. Science is tied for the lead, but the majority of these references come from Noah’s recent rundown on the new avian genome bonanza.

Some of the more conspicuous omissions? I’d suggest Trends in Ecology & Evolution or Systematic Biology.

Do we have a taxonomic bias?

Taxon

Sort of? While mammals are on the top of the heap, a good percentage of TME posts don’t mention any specific taxon. Melissa wins the prize for least taxonomic bias by highlighting six different taxonomic groups over the course of seven posts, but no contributor mentioned the same taxonomic group more than twice.

 

Lastly, I want to turn my back on objective data and give some subjective awards. Feel free to make your own suggestions if you disagree!

Best post title

Noah set a high bar with his very first post “WTF (What’s The Function?)”

Best supporting photo

Stacy’s choice for her post “Totally RAD” perfectly illustrated the edgy, dangerous trends in RAD sequencing.

Artwork courtesy of chrispiascik.com © Chris Piascik

Artwork courtesy of chrispiascik.com
© Chris Piascik

Best two-month review

I had to give myself an award, right?

Most “Eww” inducing moment

Hands down, it has to be this tapeworm taking a stroll through a human brain:

Image from New Scientist / Nagui Antoun

Let us know what’s next

So, dear reader, what is missing? Would you like to see more scientific community issues discussed (publishing, peer review, data accessibility, etc)? More interviews? More puns?

Let us know so we can continue to deliver fresh content five days a week for the coming months.

 

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About Rob Denton

I'm a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at UConn. I'm most interested in understanding the evolutionary/ecological consequences of strange reproduction in salamanders (unisexual Ambystoma). Topics I'm likely to write about: population and landscape genetics, mitonuclear interactions, polyploidy, and reptiles/amphibians.
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