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 ‘RetractionsContinue reading “A non-self-correcting science”

Citations and media coverage

According to a press release accompanying a just-published study in PLOS ONE: Highly cited papers also tend to receive more media attention, although the cause of the association is unclear. One reason I can think of is a confounding factor that serves as the hidden cause of both phenomena. Discoverability matters just as much asContinue reading “Citations and media coverage”

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 andContinue reading “The costs of correction”

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 aContinue reading “Poor journalism is making it harder for preprints”

Freeman Dyson’s PhD

The physicist, thinker and writer Freeman Dyson passed away on February 28, 2020, at the age of 96. I wrote his obituary for The Wire Science; excerpt: The 1965 Nobel Prize for the development of [quantum electrodynamics] excluded Dyson. … If this troubled Dyson, it didn’t show; indeed, anyone who knew him wouldn’t have expectedContinue reading “Freeman Dyson’s PhD”

A trumpet for Ramdev

The Print published an article entitled ‘Ramdev’s Patanjali does a ‘first’, its Sanskrit paper makes it to international journal’ on February 5, 2020. Excerpt: In a first, international science journal MDPI has published a research paper in the Sanskrit language. Yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s FMCG firm Patanjali Ayurveda had submitted the paper. Switzerland’s Basel-based MDPIContinue reading “A trumpet for Ramdev”

The cycle

Is it just me or does everyone see a self-fulfilling prophecy here? For a long time, and assisted ably by the ‘publish or perish’ paradigm, researchers sought to have their papers published in high-impact-factor journals – a.k.a. prestige journals – like Nature. Such journals in turn, assisted ably by parasitic strategies, made these papers highly visible toContinue reading “The cycle”

English as the currency of science’s practice

K. VijayRaghavan, the secretary of India’s Department of Biotechnology, has written a good piece in Hindustan Times about how India must shed its “intellectual colonialism” to excel at science and tech – particularly by shedding its obsession with the English language. This, as you might notice, parallels a post I wrote recently about how English playsContinue reading “English as the currency of science’s practice”

English as the currency of science's practice

K. VijayRaghavan, the secretary of India’s Department of Biotechnology, has written a good piece in Hindustan Times about how India must shed its “intellectual colonialism” to excel at science and tech – particularly by shedding its obsession with the English language. This, as you might notice, parallels a post I wrote recently about how English playsContinue reading “English as the currency of science's practice”

The language and bullshitness of ‘a nearly unreadable paper’

Earlier today, the Retraction Watch mailing list highlighted a strange paper written by a V.M. Das disputing the widely accepted fact that our body clocks are regulated by the gene-level circadian rhythm. The paper is utter bullshit. Sample its breathless title: ‘Nobel Prize Physiology 2017 (for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm)Continue reading “The language and bullshitness of ‘a nearly unreadable paper’”

The language and bullshitness of 'a nearly unreadable paper'

Earlier today, the Retraction Watch mailing list highlighted a strange paper written by a V.M. Das disputing the widely accepted fact that our body clocks are regulated by the gene-level circadian rhythm. The paper is utter bullshit. Sample its breathless title: ‘Nobel Prize Physiology 2017 (for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm)Continue reading “The language and bullshitness of 'a nearly unreadable paper'”