Facts & Fun

Public discussion of problematic studies increases the number of corrective actions. True?

Several online forums developed over the last years to foster open discussion of peer-reviewed scientific publications, PeerPub and PeerJ are two of them. The integrity of data is central to the discussion – assuming that discussed openly problems with data will helo to correct the scientific record.

But is this assumption justified?

Paul S. Brookes, a researcher at the University of Rochester in the United States, wanted to find out. He created a blog as a platform for people to submit questionable data along with the respective publications to him to be published and discussed in an open forum. (more…)

Retractions Over Time

As the pressures on academics to publish increase it may seem logical that academics would be more inclined to ‘fudge’ the numbers in order to make the results look better. Many journalists and academics have brought up this point and are concerned that fraud and academic misconduct are becoming an increasing problem within the academic community and peer-review is failing to catch it. But are the concerns justified?

Below is a graph showing the number of retractions from PubMed. In 2011 retractions peaked at 373. Since then there has been in a decline in the number of retractions. However, the number of retractions seem to be on the rise again in 2013.

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Timeline: History of Peer Review

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From the church trying to control everything to open access, peer review has seen some major changes and worn some interesting hats. It has taken a long time for peer review to become what it is today.  Click on the photo to navigate through the history of peer review and find out how peer review developed into the gold standard of science we know today.

Most of the data is thanks to Thomas H.P. Gould’s wonderful book Do We Still Need Peer Review? An argument for change.  For more history on the first academic journal check out the Liveblog: (Re) Inventing Science Publishing.

Is Groupthink Ruining Peer Review?

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Groupthink could be the crack in the corner stone of science, peer-review, and open access may be a possible solution, suggests one expert.

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon where more emphasis is placed on consensus than free thought when making a decision. The result is often poor decisions as everyone is so focused on conformity they forget to consider the caveats of their choice. Irving Janis, the father of groupthink theory, outlines that there are eight symptoms of groupthink, which make it more likely for the phenomenon to happen, such as the group is small and defined with unified decision-making powers.