Advertisement SA Forum is an invited essay from experts on topical issues in science and technology. The World Food Prize laureates for were announced in June. These scientists played seminal roles, together with the late Jeff Schell, in developing modern plant molecular modification techniques. Fraley is chief technology officer of Monsanto.
Our system of scholarly publishing reliably gives the highest status to research that is most likely to be wrong. This system determines the trajectory of scientific careers. The longer we stick with it, the more likely it will become even worse. Unintended consequences of journal rank.
We have a system for communicating results in which the need for retraction is exploding, the replicability of research is diminishing, and the most standard measure of journal quality is becoming a farce.
Retraction rates Retraction is one possible response to discovering that something is wrong with a published scientific article. When it works well, journals publish a retraction statement identifying the reason for the retraction.
Retraction rates have increased tenfold in the past decade, after many years of stability, and a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demonstrates that two-thirds of all retractions follow from scientific misconduct: Misconduct accounts for the majority of retracted scientific publications Even more disturbing is the finding that the most prestigious journals have the highest rates of retraction, and that fraud and misconduct are greater sources of retraction in these journals than in less prestigious ones.
Among articles that are not retracted, there is evidence that the most visible journals publish less reliable i.
This may be due to a preference among prestigious journals for results that have more spectacular or novel findings, a phenomenon known as publication bias e.
Matthews, Publication bias in clinical researchThe Lancet. Publication bias, in turn, is a direct cause of the decline effect. The decline effect One cornerstone of the quality control system in science is replicability; research results should be so carefully described that they can be obtained by others who follow the same procedure.
Yet journals generally are not interested in publishing mere replications, giving this particular quality control measure somewhat low status, independent of how important it is, e.
When studies are reproduced, the resulting evidence is often weaker than in the original study. The most likely explanation for the decline is an obvious one: As the experiment is repeated, that is, an early statistical fluke gets cancelled out.
Yet it is exactly the spectacularity of statistical flukes that increase the odds of getting published in a high prestige journal. The politics of prestige One approach to measuring the importance of a journal is to count how many times scientists cite its articles; this strategy has been formalized as impact factor.
Publishing in journals with high impact factors feeds job offers, grants, awards, and promotions. A high impact factor also enhances the popularity — and profitability — of a journal, and journal editors and publishers work hard to increase them, primarily by trying to publish what they believe will be the most important papers.
However, impact factor can also be illegitimately manipulated. For example, the actual calculation of impact factor involves dividing the total number of citations in recent years by the number of articles published in the journal in the same period.
But what is an article?
What about reviews, replies or comments? By negotiating to exclude some pieces from the denominator in this calculation, publishers can increase the impact factor of their journals.
In The impact factor gamethe editors of PLoS Medicine describe the negotiations determining their impact factor. An impact factor in the 30s is extremely high, while most journals are under 1.
The PLoS Medicine negotiations considered candidate impact factors ranging from 4 to A crisis for science The problems discussed here are a crisis for science and the institutions that fund and carry out research.
Ranking journals is at the heart of all three of these problems. Getting past this crisis will require both systemic and cultural changes. Citations of individual articles can be a good indicator of quality, but the excellence of individual articles does not correlate with the impact factor of the journals in which they are published.
When we have convinced ourselves of that, we must see the consequences it has for the evaluation processes essential to the construction of careers in science and we must push nascent alternatives such as Google Scholar and others forward.
As long as we believe that research represents one of the few true hopes for moving society forward, then we have to face this crisis.
It will be challenging, but there is no other choice. Are these issues relevant? If so, I invite you to leave a comment below, or to help keep the discussion going by posting this on Facebook, Twitter, or your favorite social medium. This posting subsequently has appeared at The Guardian as Science research:As you can see from the chart, the percentage of Americans who had a “great deal” or a “fair amount” of trust in the news media has declined from over 70 percent shortly after Watergate to .
Sticks and stones should be reviewed. Disagreements about ideas are one thing but outright rudeness and name-calling is another. Name-calling has been a cause of child sucide for a while now. 10 Compelling Reasons You Can Never Trust The Mainstream Media by: Sophie McAdam Posted on September 10, A poll in showed that trust in the mainstream media is increasing, which should worry all of us who value truth, integrity and press freedom.
Back in , the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain began investigating piracy of Dave Barry’s popular column, which was published by the Miami Herald and syndicated widely. That is why media should have more clearly defined restrictions as to what they can write or cannot write.
The media should be obligated to tell the truth and not manufacture or elaborate stories, even if it does not sound as good.
Even though most of the television news stations are owned by wealthy individuals, they should not be so biased. Local Trust is a place-based funder. We work with Big Local areas, where people are making their communities even better places to live.