Weekend reads: Stapel as an object lesson, peer review’s flaws, and salami slicing

booksIt’s been another busy week at Retraction Watch. Here’s a sampling of scientific publishing and misconduct news from around the web:

Happy reading!

10 thoughts on “Weekend reads: Stapel as an object lesson, peer review’s flaws, and salami slicing”

  1. How thinner the salami can be sliced in Brazil? Some interesting numbers (taken from the comments of a previous post at RW)

    A) http://scholar.google.ch/citations?sortby=pubdate&hl=en&user=OHmp6A4AAAAJ&pagesize=100&view_op=list_works

    Citations: 17337
    Published articles: 1294
    “Articles published in 2014”: 6

    B) http://scholar.google.ch/citations?sortby=pubdate&hl=en&user=Cm0v22YAAAAJ&pagesize=100&view_op=list_works

    Published articles: 184 (21 articles were published at Parasites & Vectors. He is a member of the editorial board)

    by the way, he is only a kid:

    C) http://scholar.google.com/citations?sortby=pubdate&hl=en&user=_0WNaTsAAAAJ&pagesize=100&view_op=list_works

    Published articles: 699
    Articles published in 2013: 84 … ~1.6 articles/week
    Articles published in 2012: 82 … ~1.57 articles/week

    1. There is a local policy in Brazil favoring number of publications to get more funding and political power. A whole department will venerate any heavy publisher. This results in embarrassing situations like those the entomologists described in other posts. And as the department depends on such manoeuvres, these guys will shield the offenders from any serious bad consequences from doing it, creating a vicious cycle. This is a serious issue, not only in Brazil, but locally generating travesties like this one… I think opportunistic publishing/coauthoring is the most prevalent misconduct here, sprinkled with sexying-up of data for the same ends.

  2. I don’t know if there was intentional irony in posting the link about herding in science right after the link about the Seralini retraction.
    But intentional or not, the irony is exquisite.
    This is another article on the same topic.
    I am not sure how useful such modelling is, especially as I think the purpose of peer review is not determine if a hypothesis is wrong or not. Rather amongst, many things, might the hypothesis be right, are the conclusions logically connected to the data, are there alternative explanations that could explain the data, are the controls or statistical tests applied appropriate, are there any straightforward experiments that might confirm or falsify the hypothesis and any generic matters around communication or clarity of expression. Publishing a hypothesis that turns out to be wrong does not represent a failure of peer review.

  3. On saturday I tried to comment the Salami’s article at Estadão.
    Basically, my comment was the data above mentioned by Jennifer Lopez. Regretfully, the owner of the science blog at Estadão did not publish it. I have also tried to only post the link to the post of RW, but I was not successful. Later, that day, the owner of the blog sent me an e-mail indicating that he was analysing the data and that this was the reason for the delay.
    Today, many others comments were published except mine.
    It is sad to see that this blog, at an important newspaper, that is willing to deal with issues such as science fraud, misconduct and bad quality science in Brazil, does not allows to cite such publicly available data from Brazilian researchers that are doing really well in terms of number of publications…

    1. They are afraid of getting sued by the 1As and their minions, and there is also political pressure against the newspapers to prevent them from attacking Brazilian science too much… Never noticed how they stopped commenting on the series of retractions of Curi and Zuben after their first matters on them? And that commenting moderation in such news has become more and more controlled? Even the blog Ciencia Brasil has changed its tone when dealing with the topic. That is political pressure and fear of litigation…

  4. So frustrating… They propose those kind of issues about scientific integrity in Brazil in a rather superficial manner while excluding important related comments… I hate this lack of coherence… I would prefer that they talk about how wonderful is the production of 1A researchers…

    I´m also frustrated about pubpeer… Those attacks to Dr de Moor (and to others) are not fair… https://pubpeer.com/publications/72A4922DEB9A9D543CE2EBEC2A3011
    I have also tried to post some comments there (in support to Dr. de Moor position), however, they were never published or otherwise deleted…

    The few promissing spaces to express what is wrong about science are non-objetive and totally biased… In the case of Pubpeer, they are misusing anonimity to do harm, instead of legitimate how important is scientific anonymity…

    RW keep it doing well!!

    1. I have read the Pubpeer link you gave and although I do feel the critiques are tough, they are certainly very precise in the issues exposed. I do not see any abuse. The author took a very positive stance in responding to every critique and does seem to me genuinely interested in seeking good Science. However, the author is clearly revolted from having been exposed red-handed, and shows the same reaction I have seen in many tourists in Germany caught without the ticket in the metro. It doesnt matter if you had good intentions, if it was your first time, or if it is a ‘minor fault’ — if you are caught breaking the rule in a serious system, you will pay the price, and this can happen in front of everyone else.
      The author has admitted to image manipulation in ways which are against the rules. The fact that the author thinks that everyone else also does it is both not an excuse, and is a misconception. There are good scientists who will not manipulate images (or statistical tests, as the author claims) to favour their conclusions. I do believe that all manipulation should be exposed in an attempt to inhibit misconduct, and if one wants to contribute to this objective, must accept being corrected in public and abide rules.

  5. I have e-mailed to the owner of the blog at Estadão (http://blogs.estadao.com.br/herton-escobar/)

    Prezado Herton,

    can you please engage in the commentaries at RW http://retractionwatch.com/2013/12/07/weekend-reads-stapel-as-an-object-lesson-peer-reviews-flaws-and-salami-slicing/#comment-69903

    It would be important if you can explain what is the problem, in Brazil, to publish the kind of data I tried to post in several times at your blog.

    thank you,

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