Author Archive

April 1, 2011

THEMIS, NASA, and MSIP: How they interact

by Richard Masters

NASA Image

The Nature article I reviewed was Evidence for magmatic evolution and diversity on Mars from infrared observation. Through looking at the citing articles, I noted at the time that there were 3 interacting bodies that may have lead to the amount of potential citation bias I found- namely THEMIS, NASA and MSIP. In this post, I’ll set out the role and purpose of each organisation and note their interactions. In this way, I hope to go some way in explaining my results.

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April 1, 2011

Peer review of other material

by Richard Masters

You are allowed to copy, distribute, transmit the work and to adapt the work. Attribution is not required. You are prohibited from using this work in a stand alone manner. When conducting our research for this project, we all made a note of the types of citations that were referencing our original papers. As would be expected, the overwhelming majority of the citations were articles from peer reviewed journals. However, there were also a number of letters, reviews, proceedings papers and editorial material that often were published in peer reviewed journals but unclear as to whether they were peer reviewed themselves.

So, I decided to ask the question, do peer reviewed journals get everything peer reviewed?

Letters

Letters tend to be peer reviewed in a similar way to articles. For example, Nature lists the types of material they do peer review in their policy. More often then not a letter is an original piece of research that has been rushed through as it is considered important, before the full paper has been written, for example the Nature definition here.

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March 31, 2011

Citation impact and self-selection bias: A problem of causation for open access

by Richard Masters

There have been a number of studies that show pretty conclusively the citation advantage Open Access research articles benefit from. The argument goes that through increased visibility and access to OA papers, more people will view the work which in turn will lead to a higher number of citations.

Alma Swan in The Open Access citation Advantage lists a number of contributory factors that possibly comprise this advantage:

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March 31, 2011

The humble beginnings of peer review alternatives: Stevan Hanard and Open Peer Commentary

by Richard Masters

BBS: An Open Peer Commentary journal

A popular theme here on ScienceMediaWatch has been the problems of peer review and the criticisms which confront it. With these problems in mind, a growing number of researches have tried to develop new systems of peer review that provide a secure quality control, while at the same time deal with some of the problems the system faces

As Anka discussed in a previous post, the web project Philica tries to solve the problems of peer review in academic journals by publishing the papers under an open access licence, to enable all registered academics in the project to review and comment on the papers (Open Peer Commentary). This project started in 2006, but a long time before that, the first pioneers in alternative review systems made their suggestions for a different approach to scientific quality control.

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March 30, 2011

The potential for unethical peer review

by Richard Masters

What do you do when reviewers gang up?

It’s clear from our previous posts here on ScienceMediaWatch that the current system of peer review isn’t entirely unproblematic. Louise Ogden’s recent post looks at whether cases of bad scientific practise slipping through the reviewer’s net highlight the inadequacy of the process. But what happens when the reviewers themselves are potentially acting unethically?

In 2009 a number of researchers in the field of stem cell biology raised questions about the quality of the peer review their work was receiving by publishing of an open letter to Senior Editors of peer-review journals. The letter explained that:

Papers that are scientifically flawed or comprise only modest technical increments often attract undue profile. At the same time publication of truly original findings may be delayed or rejected. Peer review is the guardian of scientific legitimacy and should be both rigorous and constructive. Indeed most scientists spend considerable time and thought reviewing manuscripts. As authors we have all benefited from insightful referee reports that have improved our papers. We have also on occasion experienced unreasonable or obstructive reviews.”

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March 26, 2011

Open Access: Interview with Professor Peter Suber

by Richard Masters

When it comes to Open Access (OA), Professor Peter Suber is certainly dedicated to the cause. Having quit his position as Research Professor of Philosophy at Earlham College to work full time on OA, he wrote both the blog Open Access News for eight years and continues to write the SPARC OA Newsletter. Who better to talk to about the some of the perceived challenges OA could face?

As far as definitions go, OA is online research literature- free of charge and of needless copyright and licensing restrictions. As Professor Suber pointed out, the internet is key to OA.

First of all, OA is impossible without the internet, the way I define OA entails the internet. Even if you wrote some literature and gave it away on the street, it’s not strictly OA because it’s only for the people you’re giving it out to.

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