Tag Archives: publication

We need only 1 not 4000 journals

Aaron Ciechanover criticises profits of Nature publisher and backs mega-journal model according to a June 26, 2023 report at Times Higher Education

Speaking at the annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting,  Aaron
Ciechanover, the Israeli biologist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2004, took aim at the high cost of scientific publishing which, he argued, was linked to the importance attached by scientists to publishing in big-name journals. “Everyone wants to have a paper in Cell, Science or Nature, which is wrong – we are celebrating where you are published rather than what you have published,” explained Professor Ciechanover at the event in southern Germany.

Well said!


Steht [der Begriff] unter einem Beitrag als Antwort, wird darauf hingewiesen, dass der ursprüngliche Post mehr Antworten als „Retweets“, „Likes“, „Gefällt mir“-, oder „Fav“-Angaben hat. Es kann auch verwendet werden, wenn ein „DruKo“, also eine Antwort unter einem Beitrag, mehr „Likes“ hat als der Ausgangsbeitrag. Manchmal wird auch „ratioed“ verwendet. (GIGA)

“Ratio” sollte vielleicht auch als PubMed Flag bei Zeitschriften eingeführt werden, wenn es mehr PubPeer Kommentare als Zitierungen gibt.

No more disruptive science?

Nature reported yesterday a  new paper by Russell Funk on research innovation or “disruptiveness”

The number of science and technology research papers published has skyrocketed over the past few decades — but the ‘disruptiveness’ of those papers has dropped, according to an analysis of how radically papers depart from the previous literature.
Data from millions of manuscripts show that, compared with the mid-twentieth century, research done in the 2000s was much more likely to incrementally push science forward than to veer off in a new direction and render previous work obsolete. Analysis of patents from 1976 to 2010 showed the same trend.

So has  everything already discovered by getting most low hanging fruits (A)? Are scientists no more taking any risk (B)? Or is the “disruptive” science now hidden in the meaningless research (C)? Or did only change citation practices (D)? The answer is in the original paper

Specifically, despite large increases in scientific productivity, the number of papers and patents with CD5 values in the far right tail of the distribution remains nearly constant over time. This ‘conservation’ of the absolute number of highly disruptive papers and patents holds despite considerable churn in the underlying fields responsible for producing those works… These results suggest that the persistence of major breakthroughs—for example, measurement of gravity waves and COVID-19 vaccines—is not inconsistent with slowing innovative activity. In short, declining aggregate disruptiveness does not preclude individual highly disruptive works.

In my own words: Progress is found in the top percentiles just as many decades before. But most research publications are a waste of money and  even harmful for cluttering up the research field.

There seem to be also some critical comments and of course some methodological issues need to be clarified for any further interpretation (eg exclusion of reviews, validity of the 5 year interval, …). 5 years may not be enough in some fields, medical practice doesn’t even change for a long time – see also the comment of Bruce Albert. In any case, the authors promised to give me the CD5 dataset which will be nice to look up my own work.

20 Feb 2023

Forgot to update this post as there is an option E – that the study is just describing an artefact,.. I received the dataset one week later but couldn’t verify the claims when analyzing my own “disruption score”.  Upon inquiry RF said that  PubMed doesn’t include citations for all papers. “So to drop these papers from the data, required that papers had at least 1 reference in their reference list, and had been cited at least 1 time”.

The numbers were however still confusing as are 2.3 million entries in the CD5 file while Pubmed had roughly 18 millions entries in 2010 according to https://www.nlm.nih.gov/archive/20110328/bsd/licensee/2010_stats/2010_LO.html.notice.html. So I asked if the discrepancy may be explained by an additional constraint? RF  explained that  “For the Nature paper, we only analyzed data up through 2010, for consistency with the other data sets used in the paper. But we computed the measure for more recent years” which may have led to the missing scores.

A colleague also wrote about the study later in a German magazine https://www.laborjournal.de/rubric/narr/narr/n_23_03.php basically saying that science is not disruptive, it builds nearly always on earlier ground work: “Disruptive is economic gobbledegook”.

Interestingly and only last week I learned about another much more extensive reanalysis that arrives at very similar conclusions  “Dataset Artefacts are the Hidden Drivers of the Declining Disruptiveness in Science“. Holst et al. describe in this paper

Our reanalysis shows that the reported decline in disruptiveness can be attributed to a relative decline of these database entries with zero references. … Proper evaluation of the Monte-Carlo simulations reveals that, because of the preservation of the hidden outliers, even random citation behaviour replicates the observed decline in disruptiveness.

And well, there is now also a PubPeer entry but only from the last year.

No big impact but recognition

As a part time ethicist I am quite happy if an earlier article gets some recognition. Recognition is something different to the craziness of summing up impact factors, it is some kind of payback by longterm influence.


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…


Desynchronizing peer review and publication


The Plan S open-access initiative has announced its support for newly emerging ways of producing research papers, in which peer review takes place independently from publication in journals or on platforms.

plan S is widely known for their last major announcement

on September 12, 2018, UBS confirmed a sell rating for shares in Elsevier (RELX). Elsevier stock lost 13% between August 28 and September 19, 2018 alone

so hopefully the stock market will respond again by selling out Elsevier.

PubPeer should be merged into Pubmed (at some time point)

PubMed had an own comments feature “PubMed Commons” which had been shut down in 2018.

NIH announced it will be discontinuing the service — which allowed only signed comments from authors with papers indexed in PubMed, among other restrictions — after more than four years, due to a lack of interest.

But there is no lack of interest, if we look at the ever increasing rates at PubPeer – the counter today is 122.000.

The main  difference between PubMed Commons and PubPeer is the chance of submitting anonymous comments. While I also see a risk of unjustified accusations or online stalking, I believe that the current PubPeer coordinators handle this issue very well. We can post only issues that are obvious, directly visible or backed up by another source. Continue reading PubPeer should be merged into Pubmed (at some time point)

A Science career should not be like a Mastermind game

You do an experiment or a clinical study and you are the code braker not knowing the peg positions and colors ( set by a code maker ).

The codebreaker tries to guess the pattern, in both order and color, within twelve (or ten, or eight) turns. Each guess is made by placing a row of code pegs on the decoding board. Once placed, the codemaker provides feedback by placing from zero to four key pegs in the small holes of the row with the guess. Continue reading A Science career should not be like a Mastermind game

Do we need scientific journals at social networks?

It is interesting to see, how journals are trying to increase their market visibility – Nature has becoming famous for their investment in Second Life? Just recently I received an email that JACI – the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology – has now opened an account at Facebook. Continue reading Do we need scientific journals at social networks?