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Science in fiction

Daily life in biomedical labs described in new novel by scientist

Heidelberg, 9 March 2016

Book cover: Raw DataWhen looking at a book with the title Raw Data, you’d probably expect a dry read of scientific facts. On the contrary – Pernille Rørth’s new novel is the exact opposite: a vivid account set in a scientific environment that gives insight into researchers’ daily lives from a very personal point of view.

The story is told from the perspective of two young female scientists whose careers in biomedical research are portrayed. At the beginning of the book, the reader is right in the middle of the action: Karen, one of the protagonists, has just given her first talk at an important scientific conference. She recalls the trials and tribulations she has encountered in her career so far – the passion and excitement of working in a lab, but also the frustration and jealousy that come with the job. She thinks of her colleague Chloe, one of the other postdocs in her lab. One of Chloe’s studies had to be retracted and a series of bad events has been set in motion.

The primary intent of this novel is to familiarize the reader with the world of scientists. Raw Data illustrates the pressure and excitement of young researchers to publish their results. With her first novel, Pernille Rørth emphasizes how amazing and inspiring doing science can be. “It is not just tough and competitive, but also wonderful,” she adds.

The book is complemented by an interview with the author, who has been working in science for 25 years. She evaluates to what extent the fictional content meets her personal experiences and reports on the general topics of peer review and women in science. She also explains the impact of scientific misconduct and how this can affect a researcher’s life and career.

Pernille Rørth holds a PhD in cell biology and genetics. She has led research labs at top institutions in the US, Europe and Asia, including the Carnegie Institution for Science (Department of Embryology) and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). She is senior author of numerous research articles, including some in the most prestigious journals in biology. She also served as Executive Editor (Editor-in-Chief) of The EMBO Journal for five years. She now lives in Copenhagen with her husband, who is also a scientist. 

P. Rørth
Raw Data
A Novel on Life in Science
Springer. 2016, VII, 195 p.
Softcover 19,99 € | £15.00 | $19.99
ISBN 978-3-319-23972-9
Also available as an eBook

Further information

About the book Raw Data

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Christiane Ranke | Springer | Communications
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