On that anti-mRNA vaccines video

person holding injection

The Times of India has published an irresponsible article today on a video by a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) claiming with dubious evidence that all mRNA vaccines are harmful. The article quotes from the video at length, effectively offering less-sceptical readers a transcript and encouraging the uncritical absorption of the video’s … Read more

A Kuhnian gap between research publishing and academic success

There is a gap in research publishing and how it relates to academic success. On the one hand, there are scientists complaining of low funds, being short-staffed, low-quality or absent equipment, disoptimal employment/tenure terms, bureaucratic incompetence and political interference. On the other, there are scientists who describe their success within academia in terms of being … Read more

Are preprints reliable?

To quote from a paper published yesterday in PLOS Biology: Does the information shared in preprints typically withstand the scrutiny of peer review, or are conclusions likely to change in the version of record? We assessed preprints from bioRxiv and medRxiv that had been posted and subsequently published in a journal through April 30, 2020, representing the initial … Read more

PeerJ’s peer-review problem

Of all the scientific journals in the wild, there are a few I keep a closer eye on: they publish interesting results but more importantly they have been forward-thinking on matters of scientific publishing and they’ve also displayed a tendency to think out loud (through blog posts, say) and actively consider public feedback. Reading what … Read more

India’s missing research papers

If you’re looking for a quantification (although you shouldn’t) of the extent to which science is being conducted by press releases in India at the moment, consider the following list of studies. The papers for none of them have been published – as preprints or ‘post-prints’ – even as the people behind them, including many … Read more

A non-self-correcting science

While I’m all for a bit of triumphalism when some component of conventional publication vis-à-vis scientific research – like pre-publication anonymous peer review – fails, and fails publicly, I spotted an article in The Conversation earlier today that I thought crossed a line (and not in the way you think). In this article, headlined ‘Retractions … Read more

The costs of correction

I was slightly disappointed to read a report in the New York Times this morning. Entitled ‘Two Huge COVID-19 Studies Are Retracted After Scientists Sound Alarms’, it discussed the implications of two large studies of COVID-19 recently being retracted by two leading medical journals they were published in, the New England Journal of Medicine and … Read more

A caveat for peer-review

Now that more researchers are finding more holes in the study in The Lancet, which claimed hydroxychloroquine – far from being a saviour of people with COVID-19 – actually harms them, I wonder where the people are who’ve been hollering that preprint servers be shut down because they harm people during a pandemic. The Lancet … Read more

Poor journalism is making it harder for preprints

There have been quite a few statements by various scientists on Twitter who, in pointing to some preprint paper’s untenable claims, point to the manuscript’s identity as a preprint paper as well. This is not fair, as I’ve argued many times before. A big part of the problem here is bad journalism. Bad preprint papers are a … Read more