Category Archives: Journal club

Looking at Open Science through the Prism of a Social Dilemma

The journal First Monday just published a paper by Kaja Scheliga and Sascha Friesike from the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society. The article is titled “Putting open science into practice: A social dilemma?” What follows is an abstract of the paper.

The essence of open science is to make the whole research process transparent and accessible. The idea of open science can be traced back to the days of the emergence of the scientific journal system when scientists started to publish their insights in the form of scientific papers instead of anagrams. In its current form, open science has gained a new dimension thanks to the internet which provides scientists with the technological means to share their insights on a potentially global scale.

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An important read on “Impact Factor Mania” from Arturo Casadevall & Ferric Fang

Really important article in mBio: Causes for the Persistence of Impact Factor Mania.

Full citation : Casadevall A, Fang FC. 2014. Causes for the persistence of impact factor mania. mBio 5(2):e00064-14. doi:10.1128/mBio.00064-14.

In the article the authors discuss what they call “Impact Factor Mania” and outline what they believe the causes of it are (hyper competition for funding and jobs, paucity of objective measures of the importance of scientific work, hyper specialization of science, benefits to selected journals, benefits to scientists, national endorsements and prestige by association).  They then discuss some of the problems with such mania including distortions in the scientific enterprise, inability to accurately predict impact, ignoring many important studies, limited correlation between IF and article citation, imperfection of citation rate, delay in communications, and creation of perverse incentives.  They discuss some of the existing proposals for reform including DORA and a boycott of high impact journals.  And finally they discuss what scientists can do including: reforming criteria for funding and promotion, use of diverse metrics, increase interdisciplinary interactions, encourage elite journals to become less elite, and a return to essential scientific values.

The article is a perfect follow up on our recent “Publish or Perish” meeting.

Sarah Kendzior @sarahkendzior on “What’s the Point of Academic Publishing?”

In the run up to our meeting on “Publish or perish? The future of academic publishing and careers February 13 – 14, 2014 at UC Davis” I am going to be writing some blog posts about the topics of the meeting.  Just as I started to do a few web searches for one such post – I discovered a very timely article published a few days ago in Vitae: What’s the Point of Academic Publishing?.  The article is by Sarah Kendzior who is a writer who I have interacted with a few times here and there (she writes for Al Jazeera English and writes a lot about Academia).  It is an interesting read.

New paper on “Global gender disparities in science” (Crosspost from UC Davis ADVANCE Blog)

I am cross posting this from the UC Davis ADVANCE Blog where I posted it yesterday, since it is of relevance to this project and to the upcoming meeting we are organizing on “Publish or perish? The future of academic publishing and careers.”

There is an interesting new paper in Nature of interest.  The paper is titled “Bibliometrics: Global gender disparities in science” and is by Vincent Larivière, Chaoqun Ni, Yves Gingras, Blaise Cronin & Cassidy R. Sugimoto.  In the paper the authors report a detailed analysis three parameters:

  1. authorship of published scientific papers (which they use as a surrogate for research output)
  2. co-authorship on papers (which they use as a surrogate for collaboration)
  3. citations (which they use as a surrogate for scientific impact)

They then assigned gender to authors using multiple sources and examined the relationships between the 3 listed parameters and gender.  And the findings are pretty striking.

I note – it is worth going to the Nature web cite for this article because some of the figures are interactive and one can click on different fields and change the plots.

The authors state – before digging into the details of their analysis “In our view, the scale of this study provides much-needed empirical evidence of the inequality that is still all too pervasive in science. It should serve as a call to action for the development of higher education and science policy.”  A pretty strong statement that at least to me seems to be worth considering given their analysis.

Among their findings

  1. Globally men make up > 70% of the “fractionalized authorships” of scientific papers.
  2. Countries in S. America and E. Europe have somewhat better (on average) gender equity in authorship
  3. As shown previously, the gender ratio varies enormously between fields
  4. In terms of collaboration women tended to be more “domestically oriented” (i.e., focused on within country collaborations) than men.
  5. And the finding getting the most press — papers for which a woman had a prominent author position received fewer citations (on average) than those in which a man had such prominent position.

The authors then discuss the implications of their findings and make some recommendations for future actions.  Among their conclusions (which I quote directly so as to not alter any implied meaning):

  1. “barriers to women in science remain widespread worldwide, despite more than a decade of policies aimed at levelling the playing field”
  2. “programmes fostering international collaboration for female researchers might help to level the playing field”
  3. “Any realistic policy to enhance women’s participation in the scientific workforce must take into account the variety of social, cultural, economic and political contexts in which students learn science and scientific work is performed”

This paper is definitely worth looking at in detail.  And I note there is also a lot of supplemental material that might be worth downloading and playing around with.  Data is critical for understanding the gender disparities in science and for planning and then testing ways to correct such disparities