Author Archive

March 25, 2011

Innocently overlooked or intentionally ignored?

by Michael Jones

This month a paper that examines Antarctic glaciers was published by Professor Robin Bell (et al.) and picked up by the BBC, among others.

The glaciation paper by Tripati et al. that we had in our set from 2005 was not referenced by the survey of Antarctic glaciers around the Gamburtsev mountain range.

It’s not unexpected; Bell’s paper did not examine the global processes leading to glaciation but rather the nature of glaciation in the region. Specifically the manner in which glaciers formed there. However, it specifically notes that the formation of glaciers on Antarctica began at the Eocene-Ogliocene boundary – as discussed by Tripati et al. – so perhaps there was a case to reference ‘our’ paper.

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March 25, 2011

Peer review outside of academia

by Michael Jones

While this project has mostly focused on the nature (I’m getting bored of the pun now!) of peer review within academic circles, I thought it’d be interesting to see whether or not there was something to be said for the basic premise of the practise outside the pinickity professors.

In most aspects of life, especially in employment, peer review manifests itself in the form of editorial checks for grammar, spelling and content (particularly for journalists), as well as procedural checks and regulations within which people must operate.

The reasons for this are twofold: Without editorial checks for work that either gets published or produced for file submission, there is a chance that the wrong information, or the wrong phrasing of the information, can jeaopardise the intention of a piece; and secondly that it covers the legal aspects of much of the work.

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March 24, 2011

The impact of Universities’ rankings following publication in Nature

by Michael Jones

While academic institutions are not solely pressing for publication of research in top ranking journals such as Nature, it certainly goes someway towards fulfilling their various mission statemetnts. This bit of data analysis looks at whether institutions’ world rankings, based on the Times Higher Education World Universities rankings of 2005 and 2010, changed the apparent quality of the Universities whose research made it to press.

As Louise pointed out, in our papers there was a large proportion of USA-based institutions that published research in Nature in our 2005 selection.

Although there are many factors at work that determine the quality of an institution according to its world ranking, I thought it’d be interesting to see, where possible, whether publishing research had a correlation with improving the prestige of a University.

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March 23, 2011

Bias within bias: is there fire where there’s smoke?

by Michael Jones

Often bias was found to coexist, not unsurprising given the nature (pun intended) of the project

One of the interesting areas that our data set allows us to analyse is whether there is a large cross over on some of the areas of bias. It had been supposed, with good reason, that in many cases where bias A existed, bias B would exist as well; if the author of the original paper then cited their own work, it would make sense within the short time frame (<5 years) they would still be at the institution from which they produced the work.

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March 20, 2011

Bias breakdown in NPG journals

by Michael Jones

One of the main aspects of our project initially was to decide not only if there was ‘bias’ within authors’ citations, but whether in addition Nature or other Nature Publishing Group (NPG) journals also contain a lot of instances of ‘bias’.

Given the prestige that comes from having a review or research article published within the group’s series of journals, many authors will want to show good understanding of the most important studies within the field. And this could also mean citing articles that have appeared within the journals, as these are likely to be high-quality, field-relevant peer reviewed pieces.

Of the 2519 materials that cited the original articles, 146 were published in an NPG journal.

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March 20, 2011

Naturel selection: who you are rather than what you know?

by Michael Jones
Our dataset found a substantially higher amount of bias in citing articles published in Nature. So is there an element of knowing, or being, the right people that improves the chances of getting into the influential journal?
Nature has one of the highest impact factors of any scientific journal, of 34.48 according to the Thompson ISI 2009 rating (which we used as it was the latest rating we were certain of for all journals prior to starting the project).
Within our dataset, material citing our original articles were found within Nature on 54 occasions. This accounts for 2.1% of all citations in the entire study.
So relative to the amount of citations overall, bias in Nature should occur at: bias A = 4.473 instances; bias B = 6.687 instances; bias C = 3.066 instances. That’s if we are to believe that all things can be based on statistics alone…