Home > Catastrophism, Climate Change, Global Warming, Omniclimate, Science, Skepticism > Peer Review (And Fraud) Ain’t The Only Things To Fix In Modern Science

Peer Review (And Fraud) Ain’t The Only Things To Fix In Modern Science

Worried about Editors of scientific publications overeager to publish only what confirms and conforms to their prejudices? Of peer reviewers too friendly to their omerta-based ilk and too ideological to accept what may contradict their work?

And now there is something else to worry about, in the realm of scientific publishing: foul play in citation (aka “bibliographic negligence” and “citation amnesia“).  That is, the malpractice to “forget” the citation of a rival’s article, or of previous research that would detract from the allegedly unprecedented, ground-breaking nature (and therefore, importance) of one’s article.

As suggested by Richard Gallagher in the same article, the solution may be straightforward:

We need a code of practice for citation, which journals should adopt explicitly. Gene Garfield called for this many years ago, suggesting that authors sign a pledge or oath that they have done a minimal search of the literature and that to the best of their knowledge there is no other relevant work. This is, in fact, the oath one signs when filing for a US patent.

But can the above be used to poo-poo modern science? Au contraire. Listen to Gallagher again:

Judging by the amount of publicity for fraud and greed in science, standards appear to be in freefall. I am not sure that I buy it. I think that the openness gifted us by the Internet is revealing the lax standards that have been in place all the time. The purifying glare of publicity may actually help us [the scientists] get our house in order—I wish that the editors of research journals would get this.

  1. DHMO
    2009/05/09 at 00:42

    I live in Australia here we have much angst and guilt trips about our indigenous population. This has been brought on by the writings of a few anthropologists/historians over many years. Then a few years back a member of this group (a historian Keith Windschuttle) decided to write a book about the history of aboriginals in Tasmania. He researched the references given by previous writers on the subject. The previous writers had painted a picture of genocide perpetrated by the white settlers. The were/are a number doing this and many had built their careers on it. This was not a short term thing it has been practised possibly for fifty years.

    Windschuttle to his dismay found the whole body of work was false. He titled his subsequent book “The Fabrication of Aboriginal History ”. The title says it all! Reading the book I realized that a major fraud had been perpetrated by a group who had then built their careers around it. You can find more about this at http://www.sydneyline.com/

    No doubt such also exists in the whole AGW debate and authors of works can get away with it. The crowd above got away with it for fifty years and continue to do so. Journals have need for readership and success. If you want to increase your readership then you need to entertain. That means publishing sensational articles and not researching much. You must hold within certain parameters but these are not driven by fact. You have to judge by acceptability of your articles. This increases readership and attracts advertising. Many things are indicating that readers are moving away from scientific journals (and other printed material) to the internet. The authoritative journals of the past must attract the less educated reader to survive.

    BTW You are a skeptic when you comment “I do not ‘believe’ … in any skeptic or AGW believer” you show that you are. Perhaps you could define it differently. “Climate Change” is a damn silly term. There will always be “Climate Change” for the Earth while there is an Earth. It is beyond human ability to change it in any Earth sense. Maybe when we become Gods!

  1. 2009/05/15 at 05:08

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