JAWWS Links for June
In which many people on Twitter complain about science publishing
There are still a few hours left in June, so let’s quickly list everything interesting I saw in the past few weeks about science writing, publishing, and communication 🙂. See here for the previous (May) roundup.
A few instances of everybody’s favorite genre of tweet — complaints about scientific publishing:
You know a system is broken when it requires you to actually foresee the future in order to pass all the hoops.
Indeed! It’s not totally a waste, since the journal record has other functions than distributions, but I can’t help thinking how deeply demotivating it is to write something that you know no one will read.
Yes, important reminder: scientific papers are full of BS.
And as a corollary: unless you absolutely need the prestige gain from publishing in a respected journal (e.g. for securing a job or funding), it’s better to write a blog post.
On the other hand, there are advantages to scientific papers over blogs. One of them is that there is no norm in blogging of making sure that you have covered the current state of knowledge:
I wonder if there’s a solution to this for general online writing that doesn’t involve recreating scientific papers. (Let me know here if you have any ideas!)
Speaking of references, here’s a little thread on the tradeoff between citing many references and telling a good story:
My first thought is that perhaps it would be a good idea to have different sections in a paper do different things. In an intro that aims at acquainting the reader with existing literature, then use references, yes. But only after having made sure that your point is clear without too much interference from citations.
Yes. Papers should move online from the most part and make use of advanced technologies like hyperlinks.
Lastly, this thread — and the associated article — is great. It’s by a scientist who decided to quit giving his labor to for-profit journals as an editor or peer reviewer:
A summary of his justifications and recommendations:
(Pre-publication) peer review is not that reliable since it rests on only 2-3 reviewers, few mistakes are found, and even fewer are fixed
Peer review is also often of bad quality, since there’s no incentive to do a good work as a reviewer (you’re not paid to do it)
Peer review is not transparent
A better system would involve quick publication with post-publication peer review. You know, like in every other kind of publishing (including pre-1970s science).
Pre-publication peer review need not be banished, but should become optional
The current system is wasteful in time, effort, and money.
There’s a correlation between how much an article is cited and whether it was tweeted about early on. From a publication called Ear, Nose & Throat Journal. Pleasantly short and easy to read.
This is a bit old, but describes the problems with science well, and suggests solutions: The Speed of Science
I rarely watch videos, but this one by Sabine Hossenfelder about how we deal with new scientific language was illuminating: