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Bad Science; Bad Journals; Nonsense articles; My View

Bad Science; Bad Journals; Nonsense articles; My View

Photo by Dottie Mae

So Egon Willighagen form Chem-bla-ics raises the following question:

What should people do with articles that are clearly wrong, in their opinion?

He defends the idea of doing something about it, instead of doing nothing, which is common practice. He gives two options: write the journal with a commentary or letter or use the power of the blogosphere.

Here is my take on this. I do not agree much with the scientific system, in which the progress you make in your career is measured by the number and IF of your papers. This sets the incentives for the majority of scientists as follows: I want to be first author or corresponding author of as many papers in the highest ranked possible journals. Therefore some individual would not give a harsh feedback or qualify a paper as completely wrong, in fear that those authors would have to review one his papers and reject it. If I am not bad to you you won’t be bad to me.
I think that what Egon proposes is how it should be in an ideal system where your progress is not determined by how many papers you wrote. Unfortunately in this world I cannot defend a grant proposal by saying “yeah, I don’t have many papers but hey! I write a lot of blog posts”. I won’t get the money for my research. Period.

In this imperfect world I would suggest do nothing, say nothing. Those authors might review me in the future and who knows if they will be looking for revenge. So far so god, just the typical line of thought. But there is something better, I was able to spot that the article is rubbish and I am no Einstein. Why wouldn’t other “good” scientists spot it too?  Furthermore, I can use this crappy paper to detect crappy scientists in this field. If they buy the bullshit of the crappy article or even worst, they keep citing it, well … I can put them all out of my to-read list. It is like those journalists that propagate hoaxes because they don’t check their sources and forget to use their journalist instinct. Once the hoax blows up you realize you should not trust those journalists.

I admit, this is selfish and personally I would prefer to behave like Egon suggests, but not in the curret “publish or perish” system.

Dirty Talk in Mass Spectrometry

Dirty Talk in Mass Spectrometry

Image courtesy of cachos7

“We have a spray that lasts for 30 minutes.”
“Can it last longer?”
“Sure, even 1 hour. We kept it to 30 minutes for the sake of reproduction.”

Heard in a meeting discussing a MS protocol.