Editorials

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  • Scientific investigation is often a reductive process involving precise experiments in artificial environments. Perhaps some advice from a romantic poet will help to avoid the pitfalls of too narrow a view of plant research.

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  • Plants exist within a complex network of interactions with organisms both closely and distantly related to them. That none can survive ‘entire of itself’ is as true of plant science as the plants we study.

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  • Science is not a solo endeavour but a social one, and the most social part is conference attendance. Regardless of their other strengths and weaknesses, scientific meetings are critical for encouraging researchers early in their careers.

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  • The use of preprints has been well established in physical science research for decades. Is it time for the plant sciences to also embrace the format?

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  • No scientist works in isolation, but not all scientists can inspire the collaborations needed for more modern research. Good mentors have never been more important.

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  • The past century or so has seen a growing divide between the sciences and the arts. But a recent bout of exhibitions, biographies and documentaries illustrates how arbitrary the distinction between plant scientist and botanical artist really is.

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  • Wild relatives of modern crops, and varieties that have fallen from common usage, contain traits that may be of great value to modern plant breeders. How can these valuable genetic resources be best maintained?

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  • To ensure that political and societal decisions safeguard the sustainability of humanity, it is vital that the work of plant biologists is understood by policymakers and the public alike. Perhaps then issues could be discussed directly, not through the potentially biased lens of the media.

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  • In an attempt to ensure high standards of transparency and reproducibility, Nature Plants is introducing a plant-specific reporting checklist for authors — and making it a requirement for all refereed papers.

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  • Nature Plants has now completed a full year of publication as a journal aimed at all the plant sciences. What better time to assess the extent to which this goal has been met?

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  • Medical science has acknowledged that research resources are not always directed where they will be most effective. Is it time that we paid similar attention to blind spots within the plant sciences?

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  • Plants are often the subjects of paintings but their involvement in literature and drama is rarely centre stage. With the inauguration of a new literary festival it is time for a reassessment of the plant kingdom's dramatic potential.

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  • Scientific and technological advances can only be achieved through careful experimentation, but what has been discovered often overshadows how the discovery was made. However, there are a variety of mechanisms, old and new, for the sharing of practical expertise.

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  • Images of ‘real’ scientists are rare in everyday society, and those of scientists who are also women are doubly so. Could a female scientist on something as commonplace as a banknote help?

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  • The involvement of online discussion sites in the identification of errors, anomalies and worse in the published literature continues to demonstrate the usefulness of post-publication review. It also highlights the ambiguous power of anonymity.

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  • The subject of extinction and de-extinction are much in the news at the moment, but discussions tend to focus on the loss or resurrection of charismatic animals like tigers or tyrannosaurs. Where is the talk of the plant species that have been lost and that might be worth bringing back?

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  • Botany underpins the modern world, not only agriculture but medicine, material science, chemistry and much more. Yet it has been belittled to the point where even the name botany is out of favour; too outdated for a modern science. Thankfully botanical researchers continue to look forward, not back.

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  • The majority of biological research is concentrated on a handful of species for valid practical reasons. But it is important that such pragmatism does not distort our view of life's complexity.

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  • Synthetic biology could be seen as a natural development of traditional biotechnology and applied genetics. However, the exuberant culture that it has embraced should ensure it has a very bright future.

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  • Plant research projects are increasingly producing large systematic collections of phenotype data. But how can it be stored so that others can easily use it and that proper credit goes to the creators of the data?

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