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Enter the Dilettante

March 21, 2009

I am trying to rid the word dilettante of its negative connotations and use it to highlight my interest in scientific research of all kinds.  My area of expertise is chemical engineering and food science, however this does not prevent my interest in any other research.

I like any and all science, so this is my playground where I can properly discuss other areas outside my expertise without getting a bad formal peer review!  Since I am a dilettante my observations will be from a biased viewpoint, but that’s ok – I hope some experts can wander in here and be ready for some lively debate discussion!

Each week I will blog about recent research carried out in a randomly selected country somewhere in the world.  My methodology for selecting articles for discussion will be very simple.  The country where the research is located will be selected randomly using the tried and true ‘spinning globe and pin‘ method.  A list of research universities will be found for that country and again, one will be selected at random.

I am having trouble finding a convenient comprehensive database of research institutes or companies that carry out research, so if anyone can point one out I would be grateful.  If one doesn’t exist, then I might start one up!  Since there are only about 195 countries in the world, by the time I get through them once just looking at universities, I might have found such a database

Since I am not limiting my search to research within my field, I will simply plug in the institution selected for the day into a science search database.  I am very fond of Web of Science, although you do need institution access – I am using mine from The University of Queensland.  I will then write about the first article listed (which will be the most recent) which is actually from the selected institution.  It does not matter what the article is about or where it is from – this blog is not about writing about ‘rockstar’ research but about giving every institution a chance to have their work critiqued and disseminated.

If no results are found then I will do a broader search for papers (involving Google, a paper clip and chewing gum, a la Macguyver style).  If a country should be spun up again on a subsequent day in the future that spin will be rejected and another spin for a country not yet selected will be carried out.


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