Weekend reads: Data sharing fees block access; Machiavellianism and gossip in science; “power pose” redux

booksThe week at Retraction Watch featured a look at where retractions for fake peer review come from, and an eyebrow-raising plan that has a journal charging would-be whistleblowers a fee. Here’s what was happening elsewhere:

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3 thoughts on “Weekend reads: Data sharing fees block access; Machiavellianism and gossip in science; “power pose” redux”

  1. I’m surprised at the lack of discussion, in considering double-blind peer review, of the hazard of blocking reviewers from being able to detect unacknowledged conflicts of interests on the authors’ part. Maybe this is more of a concern in medicine than in other fields, but I really don’t fancy having reviewers blinded to, say, the fact that 3 of the authors sit on the board of the company which owns the device they’re testing….

  2. A brief note to mention that our article on “Irreproducibility in hydrogen storage material research” published in Energy & Environmental Science will hopefully be made open access soon. In the meantime, if anyone is interested but doesn’t have access, please just email me for a pdf…

  3. It is clearly topical to be bothered about pre-publication peer review and impact. Journal peer reviewers frequently provide a wonderful service and the resultant publication is indeed markedly improved by their efforts. They are also well known to have blocked excellent science, sometimes for trivial reasons or even worse personal pride and fraud. However, the benefits of “peer review” are so high that even predatory journals feel the need to at least toss a nod of the head in its direction. To counteract this, some journals are moving to more post review – but surely subsequent citation (regardless of whether favourable or negative to the publication) is post publication peer review? In fact, those bothering to actually read the paper are surely peers, rather than the likely quite small group of scientists vaguely associated with the field of the report? This is particularly noted in previous articles noting the difficulty of publishing cross-discipline work.
    Impact factor fraudulent activity (and at a personal level h-index stacking) only arises because we attribute IF as a measure of the prestige of the journal and by implication a quality halo sits on all papers published in it. This is patently nonsense, as evidenced by many retractions and papers we like to snigger at. Equally, predatory journals may occasionally snare a good quality piece of work, but the dust cloud surrounding these journals automatically applies to any papers in them.
    Perhaps a journal, not using the pejorative epithet “preprint” could resolve a lot of these issues. It becomes the responsibility of the authors to seek prepublication review and decide on the validity of publication, check the validity and accuracy of references, even decide on their preference of page layout and referencing style. If it is well cited, clearly it was quality work. In many respects, it may also be up to the author’s institutional authorities to influence whether the work is publishable or not. Bioarxiv and arXiv are a good start towards this as many papers submitted are not in fact published again elsewhere, but why then muddle the message? Preprint of course serves a separate purpose.
    With such a scheme, authors need to actually read and consider the quality of any paper they cite rather than assume the mantle of authority implied by an IF is good enough.

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