SciCombinator

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

Concept: Scientific literature

310

Inaccurate data in scientific papers can result from honest error or intentional falsification. This study attempted to determine the percentage of published papers that contain inappropriate image duplication, a specific type of inaccurate data. The images from a total of 20,621 papers published in 40 scientific journals from 1995 to 2014 were visually screened. Overall, 3.8% of published papers contained problematic figures, with at least half exhibiting features suggestive of deliberate manipulation. The prevalence of papers with problematic images has risen markedly during the past decade. Additional papers written by authors of papers with problematic images had an increased likelihood of containing problematic images as well. As this analysis focused only on one type of data, it is likely that the actual prevalence of inaccurate data in the published literature is higher. The marked variation in the frequency of problematic images among journals suggests that journal practices, such as prepublication image screening, influence the quality of the scientific literature.

Concepts: Academic publishing, Science, Peer review, Literature, Scientific journal, Publishing, Open access, Scientific literature

240

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.

Concepts: Physics, Science, Arithmetic mean, Newspaper, Editing, Standard Model, Scientific literature, Wikipedia

236

Increasing public interest in science information in a digital and 2.0 science era promotes a dramatically, rapid and deep change in science itself. The emergence and expansion of new technologies and internet-based tools is leading to new means to improve scientific methodology and communication, assessment, promotion and certification. It allows methods of acquisition, manipulation and storage, generating vast quantities of data that can further facilitate the research process. It also improves access to scientific results through information sharing and discussion. Content previously restricted only to specialists is now available to a wider audience. This context requires new management systems to make scientific knowledge more accessible and useable, including new measures to evaluate the reach of scientific information. The new science and research quality measures are strongly related to the new online technologies and services based in social media. Tools such as blogs, social bookmarks and online reference managers, Twitter and others offer alternative, transparent and more comprehensive information about the active interest, usage and reach of scientific publications. Another of these new filters is the Research Blogging platform, which was created in 2007 and now has over 1,230 active blogs, with over 26,960 entries posted about peer-reviewed research on subjects ranging from Anthropology to Zoology. This study takes a closer look at RB, in order to get insights into its contribution to the rapidly changing landscape of scientific communication.

Concepts: Scientific method, Mathematics, Epistemology, Science, Research, Peer review, Technology, Scientific literature

133

Enthusiasm for using Twitter as a source of data in the social sciences extends to measuring the impact of research with Twitter data being a key component in the new altmetrics approach. In this paper, we examine tweets containing links to research articles in the field of dentistry to assess the extent to which tweeting about scientific papers signifies engagement with, attention to, or consumption of scientific literature. The main goal is to better comprehend the role Twitter plays in scholarly communication and the potential value of tweet counts as traces of broader engagement with scientific literature. In particular, the pattern of tweeting to the top ten most tweeted scientific dental articles and of tweeting by accounts is examined. The ideal that tweeting about scholarly articles represents curating and informing about state-of-the-art appears not to be realized in practice. We see much presumably human tweeting almost entirely mechanical and devoid of original thought, no evidence of conversation, tweets generated by monomania, duplicate tweeting from many accounts under centralized professional management and tweets generated by bots. Some accounts exemplify the ideal, but they represent less than 10% of tweets. Therefore, any conclusions drawn from twitter data is swamped by the mechanical nature of the bulk of tweeting behavior. In light of these results, we discuss the compatibility of Twitter with the research enterprise as well as some of the financial incentives behind these patterns.

Concepts: Psychology, Academic publishing, Science, Research, Social sciences, Impact factor, Scientific literature, Twitter

132

Scientific publications enable results and ideas to be transmitted throughout the scientific community. The number and type of journal publications also have become the primary criteria used in evaluating career advancement. Our analysis suggests that publication practices have changed considerably in the life sciences over the past 30 years. More experimental data are now required for publication, and the average time required for graduate students to publish their first paper has increased and is approaching the desirable duration of PhD training. Because publication is generally a requirement for career progression, schemes to reduce the time of graduate student and postdoctoral training may be difficult to implement without also considering new mechanisms for accelerating communication of their work. The increasing time to publication also delays potential catalytic effects that ensue when many scientists have access to new information. The time has come for life scientists, funding agencies, and publishers to discuss how to communicate new findings in a way that best serves the interests of the public and the scientific community.

Concepts: Biology, Life, Academic publishing, Science, Research, Publishing, Scientific literature, Publication

87

Reading primary research literature is an essential skill for all scientists and students on science degree programmes, however little is known about how researchers at different career stages interact with and interpret scientific papers. To explore this, we conducted a survey of 260 undergraduate students and researchers in Biological Sciences at a research intensive UK university. Responses to Likert scale questions demonstrated increases in confidence and skill with reading the literature between individuals at each career stage, including between postdoctoral researchers and faculty academics. The survey indicated that individuals at different career stages valued different sections of scientific papers, and skill in reading the results section develops slowly over the course of an academic career. Inexperienced readers found the methods and results sections of research papers the most difficult to read, and undervalued the importance of the results section and critical interpretation of data. These data highlight a need for structured support with reading scientific literature at multiple career stages, and for senior academics to be aware that junior colleagues may prioritise their reading differently. We propose a model for the development of literature processing skills, and consider the need for training strategies to help inexperienced readers engage with primary literature, and therefore develop important skills that underpin scientific careers. We also encourage researchers to be mindful of language used when writing papers, and to be more inclusive of diverse audiences when disseminating their work.

Concepts: Scientific method, Academic publishing, Science, Research, University, Peer review, Likert scale, Scientific literature

85

A detailed review of all 2,047 biomedical and life-science research articles indexed by PubMed as retracted on May 3, 2012 revealed that only 21.3% of retractions were attributable to error. In contrast, 67.4% of retractions were attributable to misconduct, including fraud or suspected fraud (43.4%), duplicate publication (14.2%), and plagiarism (9.8%). Incomplete, uninformative or misleading retraction announcements have led to a previous underestimation of the role of fraud in the ongoing retraction epidemic. The percentage of scientific articles retracted because of fraud has increased ∼10-fold since 1975. Retractions exhibit distinctive temporal and geographic patterns that may reveal underlying causes.

Concepts: Academic publishing, Science, Open access, Scientific literature, Retraction, Scientific misconduct, PubMed Central, Academic literature

83

In keeping with the growing movement in scientific publishing toward transparency in data and methods, we propose changes to journal authorship policies and procedures to provide insight into which author is responsible for which contributions, better assurance that the list is complete, and clearly articulated standards to justify earning authorship credit. To accomplish these goals, we recommend that journals adopt common and transparent standards for authorship, outline responsibilities for corresponding authors, adopt the Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT) (docs.casrai.org/CRediT) methodology for attributing contributions, include this information in article metadata, and require authors to use the ORCID persistent digital identifier (https://orcid.org). Additionally, we recommend that universities and research institutions articulate expectations about author roles and responsibilities to provide a point of common understanding for discussion of authorship across research teams. Furthermore, we propose that funding agencies adopt the ORCID identifier and accept the CRediT taxonomy. We encourage scientific societies to further authorship transparency by signing on to these recommendations and promoting them through their meetings and publications programs.

Concepts: Academic publishing, Science, Publishing, Writer, Author, Scientific literature, Technical communication, Ghostwriter

62

Abstract The technology to produce genetically engineered (GE) plants is celebrating its 30th anniversary and one of the major achievements has been the development of GE crops. The safety of GE crops is crucial for their adoption and has been the object of intense research work often ignored in the public debate. We have reviewed the scientific literature on GE crop safety during the last 10 years, built a classified and manageable list of scientific papers, and analyzed the distribution and composition of the published literature. We selected original research papers, reviews, relevant opinions and reports addressing all the major issues that emerged in the debate on GE crops, trying to catch the scientific consensus that has matured since GE plants became widely cultivated worldwide. The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of GE crops; however, the debate is still intense. An improvement in the efficacy of scientific communication could have a significant impact on the future of agricultural GE. Our collection of scientific records is available to researchers, communicators and teachers at all levels to help create an informed, balanced public perception on the important issue of GE use in agriculture.

Concepts: Scientific method, Agriculture, Academic publishing, Science, Research, Peer review, Academic journal, Scientific literature

36

Scientific articles are retracted at increasing rates, with the highest rates among top journals. Here we show that a single retraction triggers citation losses through an author’s prior body of work. Compared to closely-matched control papers, citations fall by an average of 6.9% per year for each prior publication. These chain reactions are sustained on authors' papers (a) published up to a decade earlier and (b) connected within the authors' own citation network by up to 4 degrees of separation from the retracted publication. Importantly, however, citation losses among prior work disappear when authors self-report the error. Our analyses and results span the range of scientific disciplines.

Concepts: Scientific method, Academic publishing, Science, International Phonetic Alphabet, Author, Citation, Scientific literature, Retraction