Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Empirical


 To investigate whether language used in science abstracts can skew towards the use of strikingly positive and negative words over time.

Concepts: Scientific method, Mathematics, Physics, Science, Engineering, Calculus, Empirical, Axiom


Conspiracist ideation has been repeatedly implicated in the rejection of scientific propositions, although empirical evidence to date has been sparse. A recent study involving visitors to climate blogs found that conspiracist ideation was associated with the rejection of climate science and the rejection of other scientific propositions such as the link between lung cancer and smoking, and between HIV and AIDS (Lewandowsky et al., in press; LOG12 from here on). This article analyses the response of the climate blogosphere to the publication of LOG12. We identify and trace the hypotheses that emerged in response to LOG12 and that questioned the validity of the paper’s conclusions. Using established criteria to identify conspiracist ideation, we show that many of the hypotheses exhibited conspiratorial content and counterfactual thinking. For example, whereas hypotheses were initially narrowly focused on LOG12, some ultimately grew in scope to include actors beyond the authors of LOG12, such as university executives, a media organization, and the Australian government. The overall pattern of the blogosphere’s response to LOG12 illustrates the possible role of conspiracist ideation in the rejection of science, although alternative scholarly interpretations may be advanced in the future.

Concepts: HIV, AIDS, Scientific method, Cancer, Tobacco smoking, Science, Empiricism, Empirical


A graphical abstract (GA) represents a piece of artwork that is intended to summarize the main findings of an article for readers at a single glance. Many publishers currently encourage authors to supplement their articles with GAs, in the hope that such a convenient visual summary will facilitate readers with a clearer outline of papers that are of interest and will result in improved overall visibility of the respective publication. To test this assumption, we statistically compared publications with or without GA published in Molecules between March 2014 and March 2015 with regard to several output parameters reflecting visibility. Contrary to our expectations, manuscripts published without GA performed significantly better in terms of PDF downloads, abstract views, and total citations than manuscripts with GA. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first empirical study on the effectiveness of GA for attracting attention to scientific publications.

Concepts: Scientific method, Academic publishing, Science, Empirical, Writing, Publishing, Publication, Desktop publishing


The birth and decline of disciplines are critical to science and society. How do scientific disciplines emerge? No quantitative model to date allows us to validate competing theories on the different roles of endogenous processes, such as social collaborations, and exogenous events, such as scientific discoveries. Here we propose an agent-based model in which the evolution of disciplines is guided mainly by social interactions among agents representing scientists. Disciplines emerge from splitting and merging of social communities in a collaboration network. We find that this social model can account for a number of stylized facts about the relationships between disciplines, scholars, and publications. These results provide strong quantitative support for the key role of social interactions in shaping the dynamics of science. While several “science of science” theories exist, this is the first account for the emergence of disciplines that is validated on the basis of empirical data.

Concepts: Scientific method, Mathematics, Sociology, Science, Empirical, Theory, Social sciences, Society


Social media has created networked communication channels that facilitate interactions and allow information to proliferate within professional academic communities as well as in informal social circumstances. A significant contemporary discussion in the field of science communication is how scientists are using (or might use) social media to communicate their research. This includes the role of social media in facilitating the exchange of knowledge internally within and among scientific communities, as well as externally for outreach to engage the public. This study investigates how a surveyed sample of 587 scientists from a variety of academic disciplines, but predominantly the academic life sciences, use social media to communicate internally and externally. Our results demonstrate that while social media usage has yet to be widely adopted, scientists in a variety of disciplines use these platforms to exchange scientific knowledge, generally via either Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or blogs. Despite the low frequency of use, our work evidences that scientists perceive numerous potential advantages to using social media in the workplace. Our data provides a baseline from which to assess future trends in social media use within the science academy.

Concepts: Scientific method, Science, Empirical, Communication, Social sciences, Pseudoscience, Social media, Fields of science


Willingness to lay down one’s life for a group of non-kin, well documented historically and ethnographically, represents an evolutionary puzzle. Building on research in social psychology, we develop a mathematical model showing how conditioning cooperation on previous shared experience can allow individually costly pro-group behavior to evolve. The model generates a series of predictions that we then test empirically in a range of special sample populations (including military veterans, college fraternity/sorority members, football fans, martial arts practitioners, and twins). Our empirical results show that sharing painful experiences produces “identity fusion” - a visceral sense of oneness - which in turn can motivate self-sacrifice, including willingness to fight and die for the group. Practically, our account of how shared dysphoric experiences produce identity fusion helps us better understand such pressing social issues as suicide terrorism, holy wars, sectarian violence, gang-related violence, and other forms of intergroup conflict.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Mathematics, Sociology, Economics, Science, Empiricism, Empirical


Here we present the first empirical evidence to support the hypothesis that a gender-heterogeneous problem-solving team generally produced journal articles perceived to be higher quality by peers than a team comprised of highly-performing individuals of the same gender. Although women were historically underrepresented as principal investigators of working groups, their frequency as PIs at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis is now comparable to the national frequencies in biology and they are now equally qualified, in terms of their impact on the accumulation of ecological knowledge (as measured by the h-index). While women continue to be underrepresented as working group participants, peer-reviewed publications with gender-heterogeneous authorship teams received 34% more citations than publications produced by gender-uniform authorship teams. This suggests that peers citing these publications perceive publications that also happen to have gender-heterogeneous authorship teams as higher quality than publications with gender uniform authorship teams. Promoting diversity not only promotes representation and fairness but may lead to higher quality science.

Concepts: Scientific method, Biology, Science, Research, Empiricism, Empirical, Peer review, The A-Team


As the scientific enterprise has grown in size and diversity, we need empirical evidence on the research process to test and apply interventions that make it more efficient and its results more reliable. Meta-research is an evolving scientific discipline that aims to evaluate and improve research practices. It includes thematic areas of methods, reporting, reproducibility, evaluation, and incentives (how to do, report, verify, correct, and reward science). Much work is already done in this growing field, but efforts to-date are fragmented. We provide a map of ongoing efforts and discuss plans for connecting the multiple meta-research efforts across science worldwide.

Concepts: Scientific method, Science, Research, Empirical, Empirical research


The objective of this study was to critically review the empirical evidence from all relevant disciplines regarding obesity stigma in order to (i) determine the implications of obesity stigma for healthcare providers and their patients with obesity and (ii) identify strategies to improve care for patients with obesity. We conducted a search of Medline and PsychInfo for all peer-reviewed papers presenting original empirical data relevant to stigma, bias, discrimination, prejudice and medical care. We then performed a narrative review of the existing empirical evidence regarding the impact of obesity stigma and weight bias for healthcare quality and outcomes. Many healthcare providers hold strong negative attitudes and stereotypes about people with obesity. There is considerable evidence that such attitudes influence person-perceptions, judgment, interpersonal behaviour and decision-making. These attitudes may impact the care they provide. Experiences of or expectations for poor treatment may cause stress and avoidance of care, mistrust of doctors and poor adherence among patients with obesity. Stigma can reduce the quality of care for patients with obesity despite the best intentions of healthcare providers to provide high-quality care. There are several potential intervention strategies that may reduce the impact of obesity stigma on quality of care.

Concepts: Health care, Health care provider, Scientific method, Critical thinking, Illness, Empiricism, Empirical, Discrimination


A key component of scientific communication is sufficient information for other researchers in the field to reproduce published findings. For computational and data-enabled research, this has often been interpreted to mean making available the raw data from which results were generated, the computer code that generated the findings, and any additional information needed such as workflows and input parameters. Many journals are revising author guidelines to include data and code availability. This work evaluates the effectiveness of journal policy that requires the data and code necessary for reproducibility be made available postpublication by the authors upon request. We assess the effectiveness of such a policy by (i) requesting data and code from authors and (ii) attempting replication of the published findings. We chose a random sample of 204 scientific papers published in the journalScienceafter the implementation of their policy in February 2011. We found that we were able to obtain artifacts from 44% of our sample and were able to reproduce the findings for 26%. We find this policy-author remission of data and code postpublication upon request-an improvement over no policy, but currently insufficient for reproducibility.

Concepts: Scientific method, Sampling, Science, Research, Empirical, Computer program, C, Interpreter