Thursday, January 3, 2013

Do good science or perish!

Today on a Brisbane-Singapore flight I read most of an interesting booklet Publishing Scientific Papers in the Developing World stemming from a 2010 conference.
Some of it is also relevant to the Western/North/Developed/Rich world as well.

Here are a few highlights.

Erik Thulstrup has a nice chapter "How should a Young Researcher Write and Publish a Good Research Paper?"
He points out that for young scientists, particularly those without experienced mentors, attempting to publish in good journals can provide valuable feedback about their research and writing. This is preferable to the easier route of publishing lots of papers in mediocre journals as a means to pad a resume.

Thulstrup also has a paper "Why Smaller Journals Should Merge" which describes the plethora of small inefficient journals in the developing world. These don't disseminate research but hide it!
There is a need to follow the example of Nordic countries from the 1960s to 1980s which saw many local and national journals merge and morph into effective international journals.

There is a helpful overview "Open Access" by Ramy Azis and Peter Binfield.
It describes the goals of PLOS (Public Library of Science).
It points out that Eugene Garfield, inventor of the Impact Factor, stressed it was mostly for librarians and that it should not be used to evaluate the value of individual papers.
The article ends with the dream that "publish or perish" may be replaced with "do good science or perish"

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