Category Archives: publishing


Major Fraud Plea Has University Scientists Regretting Journal Article

Just days after federal prosecutors concluded one of the nation’s largest fraud settlements involving a single drug, at least some university researchers are retreating from a medical-journal article that helped sell the medicine to children.

Denis Daneman, a professor and chair of pediatrics at the University of Toronto, said he had asked the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, which published the 2003 article evaluating the schizophrenia medication Risperdal, to remove his name from it.

And one of…


Critics Say Sting on Open-Access Journals Misses Larger Point

Perhaps months from now, when the dust settles and academics really look back at it, they’ll find some hard lessons in the elaborate Science magazine exposé this week by the journalist John Bohannon.

After more than a year of work, in which Mr. Bohannon, who has a Ph.D. in biology, crafted a fraudulent cancer-research article and painstakingly tracked the responses to it from more than 300 journals, he gave his industry the embarrassing news that 157 of them had agreed to publish it.

“The data…


The Magic Ratio That Wasn’t

Positivity-9780307393746 (1)The 2009 book Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life, by Barbara Fredrickson, was praised by the heavyweights of psychology. Daniel Gilbert said it provided a “scientifically sound prescription for joy.” Daniel Goleman extolled its “surefire methods for transforming our lives.” Martin E.P. Seligman, often called the father of positive psychology, raved that “this book, like Barb, is the ‘real thing.’”

But the top-notchness of the research that underpin…


The ‘Secret’ Milgram Experiments

Stanley Milgram with his shock machine

Stanley Milgram with his shock machine

In the early 1960s, Stanley Milgram set out to see whether ordinary people would administer painful shocks to a stranger if told to do so by someone in a white lab coat. He found that most people (65 percent) would continue to administer the shocks even when the stranger protested, complained of a heart condition, and stopped responding. The shocks were fake, and the stranger was an actor, but what the findings seemed to say about human nature was real and …


‘The Strangest Conference I Ever Attended’

David Birnbaum believes he has unified the fields of religion and science. He told me so in an e-mail. A book he wrote, Summa Metaphysica, Volumes I and II, “unifies the two fields—elegantly—and seemlessly” (sic).

In April of last year, Bard College devoted a three-day* conference to the role of metaphysics in science and religion, prompted by the “reflections flowing” from Birnbaum’s books, according to a program e-mailed to participants from prestigious institutions including Dartmouth, Grinn…


Historians, Dabbling in Science Fiction, Evoke a Climate Collapse

Prepare yourselves, dear readers: The United States of North America is coming.

Writing in the newest issue of Dædalus, two historians of science, Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, have taken on a quixotic task: imagining a future historian looking back at our time, in an effort to tease out how we failed to avert a climate-caused collapse. Or, as they put it, how it came to be that “a second Dark Age” fell “on Western civilization, in which denial and self-deception, rooted in an ideological fi…


Adding Insult to Plagiary?

Colin Purrington

Colin Purrington

Colin Purrington wrote a funny, helpful guide about designing scientific posters. It has loads of practical tips (don’t make it too long, use a nonserif font for titles, etc.) and jokes about the mating habits of cute red pandas. The guide has been remarkably popular—he estimates it’s been viewed about two million times over the years—and he gets e-mails thanking him all the time. It has become a claim to minor fame.

Sometimes people, um, borrow his guide without giving him cred…


How Rude! Reader Comments May Undermine Scientists’ Authority

Boston — Scientists have a hard enough time getting people to understand what they’re talking about.

Their thoughts can be complicated. Their sentences can be laden with jargon. And their conclusions can offend political or religious sensibilities.

And now, to make things worse, readers have an immediate forum to talk back. And when some readers post uncivil comments at the bottom of online articles, that alone can raise doubts about the underlying science, a new study has found. Or at least rei…


Journal Brings Zen, and Bio, to Mental Health

Like many scientific disciplines, mental health is a fragmented place, with individual researchers plugging away on their favorite disorders, like depression, often without regard to how the disease connects to, say, physical health, let alone molecular biology.

So just where is it that a group of scientists studying the intersection of Buddhist meditation and human-cell aging is supposed to publish?

Alan Kazdin, a Yale psychologist, has decided it will be in his new journal, Clinical Psycholog…


Top-Ranked Journals Are Losing Their Share of Top-Cited Articles

In one of Dr. Seuss’s better-known tales of jealousy and prejudice, the Sneetches with stars on their bellies are considered superior to those without.

Now there’s more evidence that journals’ impact factors are similarly misleading.

A study published by three Canadian researchers has identified a two-decade-long trend in which the world’s top-ranked scientific journals are slowly losing their share of the most-cited articles.

The study, published in the November issue of the Journal of the Amer…