Moving on from optogenetic frustrationsPosted: June 23, 2014
Here is a plea to neuroscience editors to find a 100 fucking pound grain of salt to take with reviewers who prescribe optogenetic experiments in knee-jerk fashion. Now that I have written this, my internal annoyance is externalized to the internet where it can no longer bother me. Right?
1. Optogetetics is great when it is appropriate to the experimental question and in contexts where it has been shown (convincingly, with science) to work as advertised. I like to use it, however the conditions above are rarely met for my work.
2. The sum total of my experience with “optogenetic experiments proposed by reviewers” (n=7 reviewers) is that reviewers who demand new optogenetic experiments (i.e. not extensions/controls with regard to existing optogenetic experiments in the paper) are 100% idiots.
3. This is not because of anything of the particular problems with optogenetics per se, though that is some part of it. It is almost entirely because they are terrible experiments by any standard. At best irrelevant, but usually the reviewer 3 sweet spot of being exceedingly difficult and completely non-informative.
4. This pattern says something important about scientists who think the latest craze is the answer to everything. And that thing is “ignore them.”
5. Given the totally unearned “gee whiz” bonus that a paper gets through the use of optogenetics, don’t you think the authors probably considered ways in which it could be used? And maybe they have good reasons for not using it?
Just stop it. Imposed conformity of any kind—theoretical, methodological, experimental system—is the death of creative science.