Weekend reads: Tortured reviewers, why failure is good, journals without editors?

booksThis week at Retraction Watch, an explosives paper burned up, and we found that we’re cited in a $8 million lawsuit. Here’s what’s happening elsewhere:

8 thoughts on “Weekend reads: Tortured reviewers, why failure is good, journals without editors?”

  1. Re: front loading. Doesn’t publishing ‘online before print’ versions of articles essentially serve a similar purpose (boosting IF and Immediacy Index)? It essentially allows for articles to be available for indeterminate periods of time and gather citations before they even get formally published, but as far as I noticed an article doesn’t get indexed until its ‘version of record’ gets assigned to a particular issue of a journal. And that’s a pretty widespread practice, too.

  2. The link to this news item is broken.

    “Shoukhrat Mitalipov, the researcher who cloned human embryonic stem cells — but had to correct the paper — and Woo-Suk Hwang, the fraudster who claimed to have done so are getting together with $90 million in backing from a company.”

  3. “Are “right to be forgotten” laws making cases of plagiarism disappear from Google?”

    No. Google makes things disappear from Google. In each removal request, Google has to weigh the public interest of having the information available in search results against the individual’s privacy interest. Or, as the EU Court of Justice puts it in (Case C‑131/12):

    “a fair balance should be sought in particular between that interest and the data subject’s fundamental rights”.

    Apparently in the cases mentioned Google has decided in favour of the individual’s privacy interest, so the question should really be whether Google is appropriately weighing the factors in those cases.

  4. A few comments on some of these very important stories:

    a) Dr. Brembs. Should authors ignore publishers’ and journals’ IFA requests?

    b) To Brian Johnson from Wiley. Why should “peers” respond to a system that neither values them nor remunerates them for their professionalism?

    c) Dr. Orzel: “Failure in real science is good” A slight mischaracterization. Most science is failure. In most cases, what we see in a paper represents only the most positive results, emphasizing why negative results must also be published, even if as supplementary files. There is too little emphasis on negative results.

    d) Dr. Bishop’s story should be read in detail. In fact, it refers to an Elsevier journal Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders (RASD), where she states: “I realised that I had to take action for two reasons. First, RASD was an Elsevier journal. In 2012 I had resigned from the editorial boards of other Elsevier journals. But I’d been unaware that I was on the Editorial Board of RASD, so I had not written to them. Second, I was interested in Michelle’s concerns about editorial practices at the journal.” Take-home message: we have the responsibility of examining, in detail these editor boards, the papers and profiles of the editors and the publishing practices, especially of papers with a turn-around time of 6 days.

    e) “It’s time for more researchers to step up to debunk junk”. Dr. Edward Marks, this is one corner-stone of post-publication peer review (PPPR).

    f) Anonymous reviews are an essential element of PPPR. Provided they are civil, state the facts as blandly as possible, they serve simply, and exclusively, to state the concerns with work. Whether this states something about the authors themselves depends on additional factors. In any case, those whose work is being scrutinized will certainly feel defensive, and angry in some cases. But, this is a maturation process that eventually leads to the realization that PPPR is an intricate element of the peer review fiber of any paper, especially after it has been published, precisely to counter situations where there may have been peer reviewer failure or editorial bias.

    g) How to deal with “reference rot”? Indeed, such papers deserve to have errata published because their content is basically flawed. Readers should know that what was true at the time of publication is no longer true at the time at which the paper is being read. By not correcting these errors, the publisher is not being responsible towards the literature it is selling, or advertising. I wouldn’t be surprised to start seeing retractions soon based on papers whose reference lists no longer support the claims made therein because the literature no longer exists. This would be a valid, but extremely dangerously damaging, reason for retractions. Scientists and publishers beware! Read the Klein et al. paper with great care. I think the bigger question behind the RR syndrome is how on earth did such URLs be allowed to be passed as scholarly references in the first place? Another true slap in the face of traditional peer review.

  5. A quick off topic question for commenters.

    Is it possible to plagiarize your own patent? I filled a patent a while ago, but have not finalized the paper for submission. Now the patent has been made public and can be found online. Obviously the data that supports the patent is the same as what we want to publish. Is there a problem with using that data. I dont think so, but never hurts to ask.

    The only info I can find online is basically, patent first and publish later, which we have done.

  6. John, I’m not sure I know the answer to that question. But I think you can reduce all risks, and place the full onus of responsibility on the editors and publisher by doing the following:
    a) Indicating during the submission process that the paper is based on the patent.
    b) Submitting, with a non-disclosure form that should first be signed by the editor, the actual full patent text, with the paper (use security-coded low-res PDF file, or low-res jpg file just in case).
    c) Adding inverted commas to any text that is identical to the patent itself.
    d) Adding, as a disclaimer or acknowledgements, a full statement that the data is based on the patent, and indicating clearly what data, text, tables etc. are derived directly from the patent.

    If a high level journal, there should be enough common sense for the editor to then decide whether to proceed with the paper, or not. By doing the above, at least you safe-guard yourself, as much as possible, against future claims of self-plagiarism while also shifting the onus of responsibility to the editors/publisher if they eventually accept the paper for publication. At least, that’s what I would do in a similar situation.

    The fact that you are asking this question indicates that despite centuries of publishing, and decades of patents, that rules and guidelines for such cases still remain unclear. A preposterous situation, in fact.

    1. Thanks for your advise. I think a good editor should be able to help us through process. Now we just have to find a good journal. lol

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