“It is a golden age for librarians, historians and scholars and it is the sweep of digital tools in the humanities that make it so,” he says. “In the past, if you wanted to study the evolution of language for a PhD or the roles of women in different eras, you had to do all the grunt work with references and citations all done by hand. Now it can be done by machine at an astonishing rate.”
“A study at Indiana University found that “as many as 50% of papers are never read by anyone other than their authors, referees and journal editors.” That same study concluded that “some 90% of papers that have been published in academic journals are never cited.” That is, nine out of 10 academic papers—which both often take years to research, compile, submit, and get published, and are a major component by which a scholar’s output is measured—contribute little to the academic conversation.”
“The last five years have seen 20 new scholarly books with “zombie” in the title or topic category, according to Baker & Taylor, a distributor of academic and other books; in the 10 prior years, there were 10. JSTOR, an online archive of about 2,000 academic journals, says the journals have run 39 articles invoking the undead since 2005, versus seven in the preceding 10 years.”
“Sixteen of the papers appeared in publications by Springer, and more than 100 were published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. The fraudulent papers were identified by Cyril Labbé, a computer scientist at Joseph Fourier University, in Grenoble, France. He developed a way to detect manuscripts produced by software called SCIgen. The program, invented by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005, builds papers from randomly combined strings of words. Its inventors created it to prove that conferences would easily accept fraudulent papers.”
“In an effort to increase access to this data, we are now revising our data-sharing policy for all PLOS journals: authors must make all data publicly available, without restriction, immediately upon publication of the article. Beginning March 3rd, 2014, all authors who submit to a PLOS journal will be asked to provide a Data Availability Statement, describing where and how others can access each dataset that underlies the findings. This Data Availability Statement will be published on the first page of each article.”
“I hit on the idea of identifying proper names in the text, following historic approaches which successfully deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs and other mystery scripts, and I then used those names to work out part of the script,” explained Professor Bax, who is to give his inaugural lecture as a professor at the university later this month. “The manuscript has a lot of illustrations of stars and plants. I was able to identify some of these, with their names, by looking at mediaeval herbal manuscripts in Arabic and other languages, and I then made a start on a decoding, with some exciting results.”
The authors looked at 1.5 million papers published in the US from 1985-2008. The biggest change they found was in the frequency of Chinese names among authors, which jumped from 4.79% in 1985 to 14.45% in 2006. English names dropped from 56.6% in 1985 to 45.56% in 2008. European names dropped from 13.47% to 11.18% over the same period.
But even as diversity increased, the authors found a significant degree of homophily or a tendency to associate with similar people in scientific research. US scientists of the same ethnicity end up co-authoring papers with each other at a significantly higher rate. Yet, publishing with other authors of the same ethnicity was associated with papers that appeared in lower impact journals and fewer citations.
“Academics: prepare your computers for text-mining. Publishing giant Elsevier says that it has now made it easy for scientists to extract facts and data computationally from its more than 11 million online research papers. Other publishers are likely to follow suit this year, lowering barriers to the computer-based research technique. But some scientists object that even as publishers roll out improved technical infrastructure and allow greater access, they are exerting tight legal controls over the way text-mining is done.”
“The International Studies Association, a scholarly association with 6,200 members, announced on Monday that editors of its journals should be banned from blogging, according to the Guardian. The group said that the move was necessary for “maintaining and promoting a professional environment.”
The news of the proposal came via the president of the ISA’s foreign policy analysis section Stephen Saideman, who was opposed to the ban. After the ISA’s announcement, Saideman took to his personal blog posting the proposal text and outlining his reasons at why he thought it’s laughable.
“If we are concerned about professionalism of editors as they communicate with the outside world, we need to ask editors not to blog, not to tweet, not to engage in Facebook or any other social media,” Saideman wrote. “Moreover, we need to worry about other forms of communication, too, right? such as writing op-eds or appearing on TV/radio, right?””
From January to August of last year, John Bohannon submitted an academic study to 304 peer-reviewed scientific journals. All of the them were open access journals, a newer breed of digital-only academic publications that are free for readers but often charge researchers to publish. Bohannon’s study concerned a molecule, extracted from a lichen, that appeared to show promise as a treatment for cancer. It was accepted for publication by 157 of the journals—slightly over half.
There was only one problem. Bohannon isn’t a scientist; he’s a journalist. And he completely made up the study.
Actually he did more than that. He deliberately inserted unscientific material to test whether or not it would be caught by the journals’ peer reviewers.