Category Archives: Philosophy

More humility needed

Hoekstra and Vazire on “Aspiring to greater intellectual humility in science

Although intellectual humility is presented as a widely accepted scientific norm, we argue that current research practice does not incentivize intellectual humility. We provide a set of recommendations on how to increase intellectual humility in research articles

Indeed – many recommendations are counterproductive for a science career…

and well, a divergent view at PubPeer.

The currency of the New Economy won’t be money, but attention

Time to revisit the groundbreaking 1997 @mgoldh  paper in Wired “Attention Shoppers! The currency of the New Economy won’t be money, but attention”

As is now obvious, the economies of the industrialized nations – and especially that of the US – have shifted dramatically. We’ve turned a corner toward an economy where an increasing number of workers are no longer involved directly in the production, transportation, and distribution of material goods, but instead earn their living managing or dealing with information in some form. Most call this an “information economy.”

Disagree without being disagreeable?

The NIH director on communication with the NIH

We are committed to ensuring a safe and respectful workplace wherever NIH-supported research occurs. Be it at a recipient institution, at a conference where scientific ideas are exchanged, or in our own intramural labs, everybody deserves to work in an environment that is free of harassment, bullying, intimidation, threats, or other disruptive and inappropriate behaviors. Likewise, this goes for NIH program officers, scientific review officers (SROs), grants management specialists, and other extramural staff.

The slow abandonment of the academic mindset

Mittelman  on the  “The World-Class University and Repurposing Higher Education” 2018:

… the central academic purposes of the university are imperiled. While not universally adopted, they began to take root in the nineteenth century, developed gradually in the nineteenth and twentieth, and encounter novel tensions in the twenty-first. In this century, the triad of core educational missions in nonauthoritarian societies—cultivating democratic citizenship, fostering critical thinking, and protecting academic freedom—is losing footing. A new form of utilitarianism is gaining ground. It prioritizes useful knowledge and problem-solving skills at the expense of basic inquiry…

Endlich neue CV Formulare bei der DFG

Quelle DFG 1.9.22

Publication details in proposals and CVs
Performance assessment based on content-related qualitative criteria also explicitly includes ensuring that the entire spectrum of academic publication types are equally displayed and acknowledged in funding proposals and CVs. In addition to a maximum of ten publications in the more common publication formats, the CV can therefore now list up to ten further sets of research outcomes and findings that have been publicised in a variety of other ways, including articles on preprint servers, data sets or software packages, for example. In DFG proposals, the project-specific list of publications will be included in the general bibliography. The intention here is to shift the focus of the review and the evaluation of a proposal away from the list of publications and towards the substance of the applicant’s accomplishments. In order to document their own published preliminary work, applicants can typographically highlight (e.g. in bold) a maximum of ten of their own publications in the bibliography that are important for the project. No information on quantitative metrics such as impact factors and h-indices is required in the CV or the proposal, and such information is not to be considered in the review. The relevant details are included in DFG forms and review instructions.


Bereits 1991 gab es eine Mehrheit in der Bundesrepublik für 100 km/h Höchstgeschwindigkeit und gegen Ausbau der Kernenergie.

Scan Umschlag – Die Informationszentrale der Elektrizitätswirtschaft IZE war eine Einrichtung der deutschen Elektrizitätswirtschaft mit Sitz in Frankfurt wurde im  Jahr 2000 aufgelöst und ging im Verband der Elektrizitätswirtschaft auf. Diese Art von Studien waren schliesslich auch kontraproduktiv zu den Zielen des VDEW. Der VDEW ging dann 2007 im Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft auf.
Scan S. 202

Bonuslink Earth for All das heute erscheint.

Please do not try to tell a story but report your results

When I prepared a lecture last year on scientific paper writing I have found countless advices how to tell a story – it made it even into elife.

Don’t do that – there are lies and damned lies (Disraeli) while you are easily running into a trap when trying to “tell a story”.  Preregister your study plan, tell the world what you did right from the beginning, what did not work, why you repeated an experiment or why changed your opinion.

Writing a story from the backend distorts the proportions and misdirects attention. Ulrich Dirnagl highlighted this problem in an earlier talk here in March using the following two slides.

How we present results in a basically linear way – story telling. By NIH QUEST/Dirnagl.
How it would be fair to tell the story with numerous inputs, non working assay (primer, antibody, other samples), new literature and conference talks, where we constantly change our opinion that could have led to alternate papers. By NIH QUEST/Dirnagl


So many asthma papers under fire

As an avid PubPeer reader, I found a  new  entry  by Elisabeth Bik recently about Andreas Pahl of Heidelberg Pharma who has already one retracted and several more papers under scrutiny.

Unfortunately there are now also many asthma trash papers from paper mills. Another example was identified by @gcabanac, distributed by @deevybee and published at Pubpeer.

In total there are 386 asthma entries at PubPeer. What is  really happening in this field? When I started the field there was just one misconduct case – Ranjit Kumar Chandra. That’s an increase from 1 to 386…

What makes it even more complicated that there is no border anymore to predatory journals if also respected scientists drop their names at predatory journals.  Only recently I received an email addressed to one of my former technical assistants as “professor” inviting her to send a paper…


Papers that should have been retracted, not corrected

It has been mentioned many times before  and has been even officially published by COPE

Science is either replicable or not. If not, it should be corrected. If faulty or fabricated, it should be retracted.

Continue reading Papers that should have been retracted, not corrected

“How come the Muggles don’t hear the bus?”

This is a quote from Harry Potter book about the Knight Bus

The Knight Bus is a triple-decker, purple AEC Regent III RT that assists stranded individuals of the wizarding community through public transportation. It operates at a very fast speed and obstacles will jump out of its way. To hail the bus, a witch or wizard must stick their wand hand in the air in the same manner that a Muggle might do to hail a taxi. The Knight Bus’ conductor is Stan Shunpike, who greets passengers and handles baggage. It is driven by Ernie Prang.

How come the Muggles don’t hear the bus? Because they don’t look for it. Nobody looks for a bus moving at the speed that the Night Bus moves at.

U.S. science is moving at Night Bus speed when the White House issued a new policy yesterday that will require, by 2026, all federally-funded research results to be freely available to the public without delay.

This research, which changes our lives and transforms our world, is made possible by American tax dollars. And yet, these advancements are behind a paywall and out of reach for too many Americans. In too many cases, discrimination and structural inequalities – such as funding disadvantages experienced by minority-serving colleges and institutions – prevent some communities from reaping the rewards of the scientific and technological advancements they have helped to fund. Factors including race, age, disability status, geography, economic background, and gender have historically and systemically excluded some Americans from the accessing the full benefits of scientific research.  To tackle this injustice, and building on the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to advance policy that benefits all of America, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released new policy guidance today to ensure more equitable access to federally funded research.

What about the German muggles BMBF, DFG,  the major German academies, research and ethics organizations? How come that muggles don’t hear the bus? Because they don’t look for it. Nobody looks for a bus moving at the speed that the Night Bus moves at.

Versuch einer Typologie des Spektrums zwischen Wissen und Wahn

Human capital flight

There is an interesting paper on brain drain Why does the U.S. have the best research universities? Incentives, resources, and virtuous circles?

A demand for denominational sorting drove the creation of the nine American colonial colleges. For example, Massachusetts Puritans created Harvard to produce what they saw as a theologically sound education … Connecticut-based Puritans created Yale because they perceived that the Harvard of Massachusetts-based Puritans was too physically distant (in addition to too religiously liberal)

The authors attribute the following U.S. success to “reforms that began after the Civil War and enhanced the incentives and resources the system directs at research” which may be true.  Maybe the overall strategy of the paper is questionable, looking at biographies of Nobel prize winners  only- nevertheless the trend is clear that German impact is decreasing already in 1920 – while I always thought of an exodus of scientists only after 1933.

The U.S. does not spread so much money to  various non-university based “Großforschung” organisations and there is much more private sponsoring of U.S. universities, so monies are more concentrated.

Higher salaries, lower teaching, and enhanced laboratory space illustrate some ways in which professors’ compensation began to reflect research performance. Furthermore, this period saw the emergence of tenure, a salient reward for performance.

The emergence of tenure seems to be important if you can make your living from your work and do not need to start campaigning like #IchbinHanna in Germany.

Eine Fußnote zu Fußnoten

Schön jedenfalls die vielen juristischen und historischen Einordnungen in diesem Twitter Thread. Es fehlt dabei nur Grafton

Die Fußnote, besonders die deutsche, wird oft für den Inbegriff langweiliger Wissenschaft, für einen Geheim-Code trockener akademischer Gelehrsamkeit gehalten. Doch das heißt, sie als Tummelplatz der Leidenschaften, als Schlachtfeld intellektueller Kämpfe zu verkennen. Anthony Grafton ist es unter Einsatz von zahlreichen Fußnoten gelungen, neues Licht auf ihr Schattendasein zu werfen und ihre dramatische Bandbreite darzulegen.

und die FAZ Fußnote zu Grafton

Geisteswissenschaftler lächeln gerne über den vermeintlich naiven Objektivismus der Naturwissenschaftler. Dabei ist die Geschichte der Naturwissenschaft der geisteswissenschaftlichen Konkurrenz in der Kritik der wissenschaftlichen Denkformen weit voraus. Thomas Kuhn regte Chemiker und Physiker an, nach der Geschichte von Versuchsanordnungen und Beweisverfahren zu fragen.