Posts Tagged ‘journals’

Action on Retraction

Friday, September 9th, 2011

RETRACTED SCIENCE AND THE RETRACTION INDEX -- Fang and Casadevall, 10.1128IAIAfter the editors of Infection and Immunity retracted six articles in one year, they got to thinking about the frequency of retractions.

They took a sampling of 17 journals with a range of impact factors and then created an index for each one that measured the number of retracted articles from 2001-2010 as a proportion of total articles published.

Their findings show that the higher the impact factor of the journal, the greater the frequency of retractions. They speculate that the rewards of publishing in prestigious venues may motivate researchers to engage in scientific misconduct.

Others who have looked at the data remind us that the number of retractions in all journals is vanishingly small. While it’s important to enforce ethical research practices, we may be overstating the impact of retracted papers.

Punking Peer Review

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

The Open Information Science Journal is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal published by Bentham and indexed in Open J-Gate and Genamics JournalSeek.

Phil Davis, a postdoc at Cornell, was interested to see how rigorous the review process at the journal was. So, he used software to generate a realistic-looking but gibberish article called "Deconstructing Access Points." Access Points

As the figure on the right shows, the article looked scientific but in reality made no sense. Still, four months after submission, Dr. Davis received word from the editor that his article had passed peer review and was accepted for publication. All he had to do was send $800.

He declined to pay, but wrote about the experiment for a scholarly publishing blog. His trick recalls the Sokal hoax where a physicist submitted a nonsense paper to a humanities journal, got it published, and revealed it later. But where Sokal was poking fun at the meaninglessness of postmodernism, Davis is pointing to the lax regulation of open access journals.

Not all online journals are this craven, but it shows that peer review is no guarantee of quality.

Single Blind vs. Double Blind

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Inside Higher Ed reports that the American Economics Association is switching its journals' editorial process from double blind to single blind peer review. They make several arguments for the change:

  • In the age of search engines, reviewers can easily and accurately guess the identity of authors.
  • Making both reviewers and authors anonymous imposes administrative burdens on editors.
  • Knowing the author will allow reviewers to assess bias and potential conflicts of interest.

On the other side of the debate, a 2008 study found that when the journal Behavioral Ecology added double blind peer review, the number of female, first-authored papers increased.

When I first started reviewing double blind manuscripts, I would often look for clues to the author's identity. It was partly from curiosity and partly so I could evaluate the submission in light of the scholar's other work. More recently, when I review double blind articles, it's not worth the effort to track down the author, so I make judgments based on the manuscript itself. I doubt that it has made any difference in my ultimate recommendations, but it does save time.

Open Access

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Conducting a literature review these days rarely involves going to a library. With all major journals indexed online and much of their content available digitally, if I come across a citation I can't access from my office, I question whether I really need to read it.

A study published in FASEB called Open access, readership, citations: a randomized controlled trial of scientific journal publishing attempts to answer if articles made freely available online get cited more often than others. After examining 36 journals, 712 open access articles, and 2533 subscription-controlled articles, the author found no citation bump for open access articles.

What did increase was the number of downloads. This suggests that research published openly online reaches a wider audience. The scholars who contribute to academic literature still benefit from subscription access to journals, so they can choose to cite articles based on relevance and quality. But if researchers would like to measure the impact of their work, they should look to more than just citations.

Tracking Impact

Friday, December 17th, 2010

The Cited Reference Search in the database Web of Science allows users to track how many times a published work was referenced in the academic literature. It indexes journals from the humanities to the sciences and includes conference proceedings.

As complete as that sounds, does it really capture how scholars use academic literature? With so much content migrating online, we can now track other measures of impact like number of times an article was downloaded, blogged about, or linked to on a website. describes new methods for assessing scholarly impact. One ranking uses a Google-like algorithm to weigh citations from prestigious journals most heavily. By that system, the New England Journal of Medicine comes out tops for medical journals in 2008. harnesses social networking by allowing researchers to upload their CVs and share content with other scholars. The site takes a holistic approach to evaluating merit by looking at the teaching and service part of an academic's record.

Tables of Contents

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Put this in the category of technology that saves time rather than consumes it. There's a new website out of England called the Journal Table of Contents Service that helps scholars stay current with relevant publications. Best of all, it centralizes what has been a very scattered process.

Step 1: Enter the name of the journal you'd like to follow.

Step 2: Browse the titles and abstracts.

Step 3: Create custom alerts

Over 14,000 journals are in the database, and the program will send the list of contents to your e-mail, RSS feed, Google page, or blog. Once you set it up, you don't have to make further adjustments. Just scan the new contents for articles of interest.