Sunday, February 24, 2013

Reading assignments, vol. 11

Communication of science

Peer review and publication

  • Neuroskeptic writes about the perhaps-sensical, perhaps-counterintuitive situation of stats quality in journals. It seems that high-impact journals (e.g. Science and especially Nature) are more likely than many low-impact journals to have insufficient statistical analysis. This may not be surprising, given the incentive for those journals to publish hyped-up work. Is there a similar trend in chemistry? I suspect that many medium-tier journals provide more solid experimental characterization and writeup than some of the flashier ones.
  • Scientists unsatisfied with the status quo of journal publishing practices will find this development interesting. Biologist Michael Eisen has declared that he will publicly post each paper from his lab prior to journal submission for pre-publication, community-oriented peer review. It's a refreshing idea--hopefully others will follow suit.
  • Derek Lowe points to the disappearance of the electronic-only open-access publication Journal of Advances in Developmental Research. Although he notes the relative unimportance of that particular journal, he brings up some points that open-access advocates should pay close attention to: predatory publishing and digital preservation. On a related note, Kevin Bonham writes about the premiere of a new prominent online-only journal, PeerJ.
  • The story of the recent Xi Yan plagariasm endeavor (and the journal's lackluster, non-punitive response) has been written about with proper consternation by See Arr Oh. This kind of case is amazing, as it's the kind of thing routinely warned against in undergraduate writing courses and in orientation lectures at grad programs. Despite this, the plagiarists quite often win (for another plagiarist who 'won', check out Jonah Lehrer). For those with a spare half-hour, check out the Chemjobber/See Arr Oh podcast about plagiarism and peer review. Also, the comments section at the relevant In the Pipeline posting contains a discussion of the ethics of paper submission and whose fault plagiarism is (one commenter seems to think it lies with editors/reviewers and not  professors).
  • In the last two weeks, two more entries came out at Blog Syn (a Pd-catalyzed site-selective C-H olefination and an IBX-mediated benzylic oxidation). Give them a read--and submit your comments if you have suggestions or questions! Blog Syn is supposed to be a discussion-oriented endeavor (and the further updated to Blog Syn #003 illustrate that, I think). On another note, despite broad support (including from more than one big-name prof), Blog Syn does have its critics. See particularly the comments section at In The Pipeline, which is brimming with vitriol (so much that Derek Lowe jumped in to defend Blog Syn).
  • Science librarian Bonnie Swoger discusses common metrics of scientific publishing, such as h-index and impact factor, citing the importance of context in any comparisons. 

The job market

Research highlights

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