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Daily briefing: How monkeypox might be spreading in sexual networks

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Two researchers in lab coats working in a laboratory each looking through a microscope.

Many journals require researchers to state whether they will share the data that underlie papers.Credit: Getty

Many researchers renege on data sharing

Most biomedical researchers don’t respond to requests for access to the data underlying their journal articles or hand it over when asked, despite stating their willingness to share it. A study has found that of almost 1,800 journal articles for which authors indicated that their data would be available on reasonable request, only 14% of authors contacted responded to e-mail requests for data, and a mere 6.7% actually shared their data in a usable form.

Nature | 4 min read

Reference: Journal of Clinical Epidemiology paper

Mastodon tusk reveals life of roaming

Chemical signatures inscribed in an ancient tusk tell a mastodon’s life story — from his adolescent years to his premature death around 13,200 years ago. Researchers matched the chemical signatures in the tusks of an American mastodon (Mammut americanum) with those from his home range in what is now Indiana. They found that, as an adult, he travelled to mastodon mating grounds every year in the spring and summer. It was there, at 34 years of age, that he met his end, probably from a skull puncture during a battle with another bull.

The New York Times | 4 min read & Nature Research Highlight | 1 min read (Nature paywall)

Reference: PNAS paper

Monkeypox and sexual networks

Our understanding of sexually transmitted infections is shedding light on why monkeypox is spreading in parts of the world where it’s not often found. The virus might have made its way into the highly interconnected sexual networks of men who have sex with men (MSM). Most of the recorded cases in the current outbreak have been in MSM — although that might be partly because they choose to get health check-ups more often than other people. Researchers emphasise that it is important to avoid any stigma that could worsen discrimination. And more research is needed on how sexual encounters might play a part in transmission. But scientists are also focused on how to protect those most at risk and limit spread — for example, by offering vaccination to MSM with many sexual partners. “It’s not about who you are,” says epidemiologist and former HIV activist Gregg Gonsalves. “It’s about what you’re doing. And we’re not going to stigmatize it. But just know that you’re at greater risk if you fit this profile.”

Science | 8 min read

Reference: medRxiv preprint (not peer reviewed)

Features & opinion

Science communication with a French twist

When English-speaking computational geneticist Sarah Gagliano Taliun moved to a French-speaking part of Canada, she experienced something many researchers have to do every day: speak about science in a different language. Her perspective on the experience offers lessons for anyone facing a linguistic challenge in their scientific career. “Learning how to communicate science effectively in a language other than English has helped me to become a better science communicator in general,” she says.

Nature | 4 min read

China rising fast in the Nature Index

China’s ranking in the Nature Index 2022 Annual Tables has skyrocketed. Out of the top 50 fastest-rising institutions on the list, just 10 were from outside China. The result shows how the country’s investment in research spending has paid off, say researchers — as well as its heavy emphasis on publishing papers for career progression. There are many qualities that could be used to define greatness, but the tables rely on just one: the share of articles published in 82 prestigious scientific journals, selected by an independent panel of scientists and tracked by the Nature Index database. Overall, the United States retains the top spot.

Nature | 8 min read

Reference: Nature Index 2022 Annual Tables

Bar chart of leading countries in the Nature Index for 2021, with their 2020 Share also included.

Source: Nature Index

The Voyagers’ swansongs

The twin spacecraft Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were launched within 15 days of each other in the summer of 1977 to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime planetary conjunction. Their careers have been a litany of firsts, including the first fly-bys of Uranus and Neptune, and their being the first human-made objects in interstellar space. They have survived for 40 years after their initial 4-year mission — and now they are winding down. This year, NASA plans to begin turning off some of the Voyagers’ systems to eke out the last of their plutonium power sources. Scientists and engineers, some of whom have worked with the craft from the beginning, look back at the ambitious missions and how they wildly exceeded expectations.

Scientific American | 20 min read

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“These images will be the culmination of decades of dedication, talent, and dreams — but they will also be just the beginning.”

The first proper images from the James Webb Space Telescope will be released simultaneously to the whole world on 12 July, says Webb programme scientist Eric Smith. (Petapixel | 3 min read)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-022-01726-8

Today I enjoyed meeting a newly described species, Lamarckdromia beagle, which is a crab that wears a sponge as a hat. “It forms a nice cap that fits quite snugly to the top of the crab,” says zoologist Andrew Hosie. No one wants to “munch through a sponge just to get to a crab”, apparently.

Thanks for reading,

Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

With contributions by Nicky Phillips

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