Wikipedia has quickly become one of the most frequently accessed encyclopedic references, despite the ease with which content can be changed and the potential for ‘edit wars’ surrounding controversial topics. Little is known about how this potential for controversy affects the accuracy and stability of information on scientific topics, especially those with associated political controversy. Here we present an analysis of the Wikipedia edit histories for seven scientific articles and show that topics we consider politically but not scientifically “controversial” (such as evolution and global warming) experience more frequent edits with more words changed per day than pages we consider “noncontroversial” (such as the standard model in physics or heliocentrism). For example, over the period we analyzed, the global warming page was edited on average (geometric mean ±SD) 1.9±2.7 times resulting in 110.9±10.3 words changed per day, while the standard model in physics was only edited 0.2±1.4 times resulting in 9.4±5.0 words changed per day. The high rate of change observed in these pages makes it difficult for experts to monitor accuracy and contribute time-consuming corrections, to the possible detriment of scientific accuracy. As our society turns to Wikipedia as a primary source of scientific information, it is vital we read it critically and with the understanding that the content is dynamic and vulnerable to vandalism and other shenanigans.
Journal impact factors have become an important criterion to judge the quality of scientific publications over the years, influencing the evaluation of institutions and individual researchers worldwide. However, they are also subject to a number of criticisms. Here we point out that the calculation of a journal’s impact factor is mainly based on the date of publication of its articles in print form, despite the fact that most journals now make their articles available online before that date. We analyze 61 neuroscience journals and show that delays between online and print publication of articles increased steadily over the last decade. Importantly, such a practice varies widely among journals, as some of them have no delays, while for others this period is longer than a year. Using a modified impact factor based on online rather than print publication dates, we demonstrate that online-to-print delays can artificially raise a journal’s impact factor, and that this inflation is greater for longer publication lags. We also show that correcting the effect of publication delay on impact factors changes journal rankings based on this metric. We thus suggest that indexing of articles in citation databases and calculation of citation metrics should be based on the date of an article’s online appearance, rather than on that of its publication in print.
Introduction. Researchers' productivity is usually measured in terms of their publication output. A minimum number of publications is required for some medical qualifications and professional appointments. However, authoring an unfeasibly large number of publications might indicate disregard of authorship criteria or even fraud. We therefore examined publication patterns of highly prolific authors in 4 medical specialties. Methods. We analysed Medline publications from 2008-12 using bespoke software to disambiguate individual authors focusing on 4 discrete topics (to further reduce the risk of combining publications from authors with the same name and affiliation). This enabled us to assess the number and type of publications per author per year. Results. While 99% of authors were listed on fewer than 20 publications in the 5-year period, 24 authors in the chosen areas were listed on at least 25 publications in a single year (i.e., >1 publication per 10 working days). Types of publication by the prolific authors varied but included substantial numbers of original research papers (not simply editorials or letters). Conclusions. Institutions and funders should be alert to unfeasibly prolific authors when measuring and creating incentives for researcher productivity.
Pharmaceutical advertisements have been argued to provide revenue that medical journals require but they are intended to alter prescribing behaviour and they are known to include low quality information. We determined whether a difference exists in the current level of pharmaceutical advertising in print general medical journals, and we estimated the revenue generated from print pharmaceutical advertising.
In this work we study the dynamical features of editorial wars in Wikipedia (WP). Based on our previously established algorithm, we build up samples of controversial and peaceful articles and analyze the temporal characteristics of the activity in these samples. On short time scales, we show that there is a clear correspondence between conflict and burstiness of activity patterns, and that memory effects play an important role in controversies. On long time scales, we identify three distinct developmental patterns for the overall behavior of the articles. We are able to distinguish cases eventually leading to consensus from those cases where a compromise is far from achievable. Finally, we analyze discussion networks and conclude that edit wars are mainly fought by few editors only.
GILLETT K. Nursing Inquiry 2012; 19: 297-307 A critical discourse analysis of British national newspaper representations of the academic level of nurse education: too clever for our own good? This critical discourse analysis examines articles about the academic level of nurse education that appeared in British national newspapers between 1999 and 2009. British newspaper journalists regularly attribute problems with recruitment into nursing and nursing care to the increasing academic nature of nurse education. It is impossible to separate discourse about nurse education from the wider nursing discourse. Many journalists laud a traditional and stereotypical construct of nurse identity and suggest that increasing nurse education produces nurses who are ‘too clever to care’. This article argues that whilst nurses lack a voice in the National press, they have little input into the construction of newspaper discourse about nurse education and subsequently, limited influence on resulting public opinion, government policy and the morale of nurses.
The purpose of this study was to determine and compare the times needed to dislodge prefabricated titanium posts of different luting lengths with various cements.
Publication of clinical research findings in prominent journals influences health beliefs and medical practice, in part by engendering news coverage. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) should be most influential in guiding clinical practice. We determined whether study design of clinical research published in high-impact journals influences media coverage.
The complex behavior of financial markets emerges from decisions made by many traders. Here, we exploit a large corpus of daily print issues of the Financial Times from 2(nd) January 2007 until 31(st) December 2012 to quantify the relationship between decisions taken in financial markets and developments in financial news. We find a positive correlation between the daily number of mentions of a company in the Financial Times and the daily transaction volume of a company’s stock both on the day before the news is released, and on the same day as the news is released. Our results provide quantitative support for the suggestion that movements in financial markets and movements in financial news are intrinsically interlinked.
Idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF) is a controversial condition in which people describe symptoms following exposure to electromagnetic fields from everyday electrical devices. However, double-blind experiments have found no convincing evidence that electromagnetic fields cause these symptoms. In this study, we assessed whether recent newspaper reporting in the UK reflected this scientific evidence. We searched a database of newspaper articles to identify all those that contained IEI-EMF related keywords and selected a random sample of 60 for content analysis. For our primary outcomes, we assessed how many articles mainly or wholly presented an electromagnetic cause for IEI-EMF and how many discussed unproven treatments for the condition such as strategies intended to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields or the use of complementary and alternative therapies. We also assessed whether the type of information source used by a newspaper article (e.g. scientist, person with IEI-EMF, politician) or the type of newspaper (broadsheet, tabloid, local or regional) was associated with either outcome. Of the 60 articles, 43 (71.7%) presented a mainly electromagnetic cause, compared to 13 (21.7%) which presented mainly non-electromagnetic causes and 4 (6.7%) which did not discuss a cause. 29 (48.3%) did not mention any potential treatment, while 24 (40.0%) mentioned eletromagnetic field related strategies and 12 (20.0%) mentioned complementary or alternative therapies. Articles which quoted someone with IEI-EMF were significantly more likely to report an electromagnetic cause and to present unproven treatments. Those which used a scientist as a source were more likely to present a non-electromagnetic cause for the condition. The widespread poor reporting we identified is disappointing and has the potential for to encourage more people to misattribute their symptoms to electromagnetic fields. Scientists should remain engaged with the media to counteract this effect.