Weekend reads: Women in science, creative peer review, is civil discourse about science still possible?

booksAnother busy week at Retraction Watch. Here’s what was happening elsewhere:

4 thoughts on “Weekend reads: Women in science, creative peer review, is civil discourse about science still possible?”

  1. Some brief comments:
    a) I am of the opinion that the suicide of Sasai had nothing to do with atonement.
    b) Alice Bell is spot on about the lack of infrastructure, or the currently poor one in place in many countries’ institutes and in many publishers.
    c) The system of suggesting reviewers should be totally scrapped.
    d) The Lancet was wrong to publish the piece on Gaza, for one simple reason: it was politically motivated and had nothing to do with science. Re-establish strict boundaries between science and politics.
    e) Jeff Beall is spot on about Omics, but awareness will not solve the problem. More drastic measures are required.
    f) I am really surprised to learn that Kent Anderson is going to lead Science and associated journals, especially with quite strongly opinionated articles written by him at the Scholarly Kitchen: http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/author/scholarlykitchen/.
    g) Landes Bioscience journals are being taken over by Taylor and Francis, according to a June release http://newsroom.taylorandfrancisgroup.com/news/press-release/taylor-francis-group-llc-acquires-landes-bioscience#.U-YwN6N77Sg This could be important…

  2. The first article points out the flaws in using Big Data. Author pulls the list of authors from arXiv – arXiv does not cover my field so I need to ask, is it complete and does it reflect the distribution of papers from these disciplines. Her analysis is based on the gender of authors (based on first name) and the order of names. Maybe this was influenced by the SNL character but if your name is “Pat”, too bad, your papers are not included. Not sure what was done for authors who used only the initials of their first and middle names – my name is listed this way on two papers.

    The comments following the piece point out some of the major flaws. The percent of women in science has grown (slightly) since 1991 but analysis appears to use the total period and does not control for differences in the length of the careers of the researchers – a critical variable but something that is very difficult to pull from these data alone. Charts would make more sense if they controlled for years after terminal degree. The author also assumes that the major contributor is the first author and the PI is the last. Comments following the piece point out that this assumption is wrong for many of the areas of research.

    I agree with these comments but what really gets to me as a female researcher are the reams of speculations to explain the results of the poorly designed analysis. Big Data puts out volume of records. Unless the researcher has the skills and puts in the time to match multiple databases, a single Big Data database like this one has too few variables to make the it useful for this analysis. To regurgitate the standard reasons to support these weak results is just wrong.

  3. Mr. Beall’s characteristic of OMICS as abusing is… questionable. Folks giving them money are either like the folks sending checks to Nigerea so they can claim their lost aunt who happened to be a queen’s inheritance OR those who are trying to a CV with low quality publications.

    For the later, they are not being abused, they are abusing. For the former, they are being lazy. First, they should have known that “journal =/= respectable.” Second, a publisher cannot just publish someone’s intellectual property without it being explicitly signed over. Therefore, they folks should feel free to issue take down notices and (with the proper alerting of future editors to the full situation), re-submit elsewhere. Or, these authors could simply not pay as this is not a legally enforceable debt. RW can’t ask for comments and then say that somewhere on their website it says that all commentators owe them a $1,000,000.00 USD. OMICS will have two choices: 1) retract said article (leaving author free to republish it) or 2) keep said article up (leaving the author to either pursue take-down/copyright reclamation) or to leave it as his/her published final work.

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