Weekend reads: Fishy research on fishes; was “Sokal Squared” misconduct?; the misuse of metrics

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The week at Retraction Watch featured a criminology professor who has had four papers retracted for plagiarism; a paper on fake news retracted for an error; and plagiarism in abstracts submitted to…a research integrity conference. Here’s what was happening elsewhere:

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8 thoughts on “Weekend reads: Fishy research on fishes; was “Sokal Squared” misconduct?; the misuse of metrics”

  1. Regarding whether Sokal Squared was research misconduct. PSU’s finding (as discussed in THE) is that an IRB application should have been submitted for this because it was research involving human subjects. I wouldn’t normally call trolling journals research but when you go back to their original Areo magazine article you’ll find an introduction, methods, results and conclusion and descriptions of their work as “our research” and the “results of our study”.

    So if you think it’s funny to get your dog a paper with a predatory publisher, no problem. If you think what you’re doing is systematic enough to write an article calling it “research” and a “study”, then you need IRB approval. I think that seems fair.

    1. I only read the New York Magazine piece, but it sure seems that IRB committees were brought in through university politics.

      But now I wonder what the ramifications might be for whistle-blowing in general. When you examine frauds (individuals, research groups, whole disciplines…), you are dealing with humans and there is always a question about harm (even though the fraudsters have achieved their positions through fraudulent means). If you’d need prior IRB evaluation, that would be pretty much the end of (non-anonymous) whistle-blowing.

      So the argument here is pretty much comparable to the argument put forward by the lawyers of the researcher who attempted to sue the people at Pubpeer. If you are commenting papers there or somewhere else, you are also doing human-subjects research at least implicitly.

  2. The most charitable interpretation of the Sokal squared hoax is that it was an experiment lacking a control group, making it a waste of everybody’s time. Less favorable assessments are that it was a publicity stunt, a pseudoscientific endeavor to feed right-wing trolls, or outright misconduct. I don’t really care which, but we should certainly not take it seriously.

      1. I just explained why it is flawed and uninformative. There is no reason for any study in any field with similar flaws to be taken seriously.

        1. Agreed. I thought Sokal Squared was funny, but it is not a serious study and the joke was definitely not worth committing research misconduct over.

          But if I were in the humanities, I might take it more seriously.

  3. Anyone able to provide full text of The Australian stories on the James Cook University review of Oona Lonnstedt’s research? The Australian seems to have it buttoned up tight. I believe in paying for subscriptions to support journalism and journalists but I don’t wish to have to subscribe to newspapers around the world for individual stories.

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