Author Archive

March 28, 2011

The future of peer review: an international perspective

by Debora Miranda

Still wondering how we could improve the validity of the peer review process?

Now that you had time to think about the first part of my interview with a Portuguese scientist, I invite you to listen to the second part…

…and go through the main issues that came up when analysing peer review from an international perspective. Especially if you, like me, do not have a science background.

Animal model

It is important that people in the editorial board use the same biological or animal model as the author of the paper that is submitted for review. Each animal model has its strengths, so in general it is helpful if the person who is reviewing our work is not only from the same field of study but also is familiar with the animal model. However, it is difficult to find people in the editorial board that are experts in our subject.

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March 22, 2011

Eastern institutions, can they be trusted?

by Debora Miranda

One of the issues pointed out during my interview with a Portuguese scientist was that the credibility of institutions inevitably influences the peer review process:

For example, there are lots of issues related to publication fraud in China. I have read that people tend to think Taiwan or Hong Kong are reliable, but mainland China is a bit doubtful.

I immediately linked this idea to the rice genome paper. Let’s have a look at where the 32 institutions involved in the creation of this paper are based:

 

The location of the author-institutions range from America to Asia, with some participation from the UK, Brazil, France and Canada. I analysed a sample of 200 citations for this article and realised that most, if not all, of the bias B I found – came from Asia.

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March 20, 2011

Peer review beyond borders and the harms of translation

by Debora Miranda

The scientific community does not look at country borders to evolve. Or at least, that’s its principle.

We have been approaching this peer-review project from different angles, but from the perspective of one language only: English.

I interview a Portuguese post-doc scientist based in London. We had a very interesting conversation about the peer review issue, particularly from an international perspective. Before moving to the UK, she worked in Portugal and the Netherlands.

According to her, the language can indeed be an obstacle when making science for the worldwide community. Here is some of what she said with regards to this:

There was a colleague who asked me to translate a Brazilian paper from Portuguese into English. Otherwise the paper wouldn’t have reached non Portuguese-speaking communities. This happens quite a lot.

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March 19, 2011

Big science for high-rated journals, or not

by Debora Miranda

On my blog post about journal’s impact factors, you probably agreed with me that comparing impact factors should take into consideration whether the field of science is seen as broad or niche.

To illustrate this, I decided to take as examples two papers that we analysed in our project.

1) Evolutionary information for specifying a protein fold: you can find the paper here and our analysis here

Cited 122 times, the first article is considered to belong to a niche-field of science, which is made clear by its abstract:

Classical studies show that for many proteins, the information required for specifying the tertiary structure is contained in the amino acid sequence. Here, we attempt to define the sequence rules for specifying a protein fold by computationally creating artificial protein sequences using only statistical information encoded in a multiple sequence alignment and no tertiary structure information.

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March 18, 2011

Our definition of bias: a ‘potential influence of choice’

by Debora Miranda

After Anka’s thoughts on our project’s methodology, it is quite clear that we very much focused the analysis of our papers’ citations on the concept of bias. In order to avoid misunderstanding, we decided to clarify what we understand from this concept.

In fact, using the term “bias” in our methodology was a short term for potential influence in choosing the specified reference. In other words, we do not mean a deliberate bias in general, but the reasons that let a paper’s author to refer specifically to other articles.

According to this principle, the so-called bias A, B and C on our analysis have the follow meaning:

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March 17, 2011

Author’s prevalence does not imply bias

by Debora Miranda

Today I found out something curious. Let me approach it by challenging you.

Having a quick glimpse at the following picture, how long does it take you to identify the name Ranganathan?

Perhaps not long, but also not as quickly as you read Kelly JW or Bailey-Kellogg C.

If you remember my blog post on the results of the paper I analysed, you might also remember that Rama Ranganathan was the author responsible for most of the bias I found. Although the analysis of the paper had a very low overall bias – about 5 per cent – the bias that was found was, indeed, direclty linked to Ranganathan’s name.

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