Bad Science Is No Ones Friend

Experiments aren't uncommon things in science. What is rare, is an experiment being run on science. Specifically, Harvard biologist John Bohannon has run an experiment on open-access scientific journals, in an attempt to highlight the growing problem of unscholarly works being accepted by these online sources in exchange for an exorbitant fee.

Over the past year, Bohannon submitted a article to 304 of these open-access journals, a false article concerning the anti-cancer potential of a chemical in lichen, filled with "glaring errors, and imaginary authors." The article was accepted by 157 of these publications. Of these 304 journals, only one rejected the paper based on ethical concerns with the data.

His hoax did not extend into the traditional field of print journals, concentrating instead on the surge of online journals that will charge the submitting researcher anywhere between $500 and $3000. Many of these journals are little more than cons, in business for the submission fees and not valuing the scientific validity of the submitted articles, which it then provides online for free. Conventional journals require no submission fee, but do require subscriptions for access. The biggest downside, besides the fleecing of researchers, is that the public is able to freely access potentially irresponsibly false data (it should be noted that not all articles submitted to these open-access journals will contain bad science, but rather that, the journals aren't interested in publishing only valid research, just those that are willing to pay).

Bad data makes for bad science, especially if the belief is that an article appearing in a journal will have been vetted to a degree. the tight a crack down, and more exposure this sort of behaviour gets, the better researchers everywhere will be.

Via the Toronto Star.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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