Friday, February 22, 2013


  1. Nature reports that a Company offers portable peer review: Author-pays service cuts down on redundant reviews.
    The concept comes from a company called Rubriq. Charging authors an estimated US$500–700 for its service, the firm plans to offer a standard-format anonymized review, and is currently testing its concept with publishers including Public Library of Science (PLoS), Karger, F1000Research and Wiley, as well as more than 500 reviewers.
    The idea is for authors to pay for a quick independent peer review, as done currently, with the reviews to travel along with the paper when submitted to journals. If it gets rejected in one, the paper goes to the next journal along with the peer reviews already done and so on, saving time for all involved, before the authors find a suitable journal for getting their paper published.
  2. Journal impact factor is useless and even detrimental. Assessment done based on journal ranking is bad scientific practice. As an academic if you still need convincing on these observations, read the recent salvo by Björn Brembs, Marcus Munafò titled "Deep Impact: Unintended consequences of journal rank" posted in the arXiv.

    The authors suggest to close down this journal publishing enterprise in toto "[...] in favor of a library-based scholarly communication system".
  3. The claim that most biomedical research is wrong was first put forward by John Ioannidis at the University of Ioannina in Greece in 2005 [PLoS paper].

    This is being challenged in a recent paper posted in arXiv titled "Empirical Estimates Suggest Most Published Medical Research is True". Analysis in this paper suggest that the real number is just 14 per cent.

    Read a brief on this Technology Review article.
  4. In an opinion piece titled Why Business Schools Teach Transparency but Practice Ambiguity Larry Zicklin provides several examples on why business schools should consider doing less research and more teaching. Here is his starting argument
    [...] if faculty members assumed larger teaching workloads, while doing less research, universities could deliver a college education at a fraction of its present cost. And all that would be lost would be a succession of what he sees as research papers that are of only marginal interest.
  5. Dean Keith Simonton, Professor of psychology at UC Davis,has a provocative Scientific genius is extinct comment in Nature. A copious quote from the article:
    Our theories and instruments now probe the earliest seconds and farthest reaches of the Universe, and we can investigate the tiniest of life forms and the shortest-lived of subatomic particles. It is difficult to imagine that scientists have overlooked some phenomenon worthy of its own discipline alongside astronomy physics, chemistry and biology. For more than a century, any new discipline has been a hybrid of one of these, such as astrophysics, biochemistry or astrobiology. Future advances are likely to build on what is already known rather than alter the foundations of knowledge. One of the biggest recent scientific accomplishments is the discovery of the Higgs boson – the existence of which was predicted decades ago.

    [...]If anything, scientists today might require more raw intelligence to become a first-rate researcher than it took to become a genius during… the scientific revolution in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, given how much information and experience researchers must now acquire to become proficient.
    The article would have made me reflect more, if only it had defined properly what (according to the author) is scientific genius.