Biotech student study group needs assistance

Fri Oct 24 15:51:18 EST 1997

     I just logged on to this newsgroup for the first time in
several weeks and thought I'd better throw my two cents in
because I had made the original recommendation to Diane to
post her message to this group.  When Diane contacted me
(as the moderator of one of the BIOSCI newsgroups) several
weeks ago, asking which of the BIOSCI newsgroups would be
most appropriate for her group of undergraduate biology
majors to post their questions,   I suggested methods and
reagents, telling her that the post would get the broadest
exposure  in this high-volume group and that the newsgroup
users  had a broad range of expertise in the biological
sciences and shared a common interest in laboratory
methods.  I thought that this (somewhat but not entirely)
atypical post would be tolerated by the group - a lot of
former undergrad bio majors themselves!  I told her that she
would most likely get input in the form of titles of texts, lab
manuals, "classic" papers and web sites - resources that the
group could use to zero in on the information required to
formulate the answers to their 11 questions.
     I think the statement  in the students' post regarding
obtaining "answers" to their questions has been grossly
overinterpreted and taken far too literally by some in this
group.  It is unfair to assume that the students are  "asking
on-line for the answers," asking people to "read text books for
them" or "replace trips to the bookshelves" with trips to the
Internet.  Given the complex nature of the questions,  it
would be unreasonable for the students to expect to get any
more than pointers and guidelines  - i.e., on specific aspects
of questions where interested individuals had expertise -  and
I think it's safe to assume that this is the level of information
that they were seeking.   They clearly state that they are
using a variety of resources, only one of which (and
presumably a minor one) is the Internet.  Their choice of the
BIOSCI newsgroups as a source of informal advice from
scientists actively engaged in biological research  (a career
they may be considering) is an obvious one.  This was
probably these undergraduates'  first foray into the
community of professional scientists on the Internet and I
think they have gone about it in a professional manner.

Mary McCarthy
Associate Scientific Editor, BioTechniques

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