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The Case of Diederik Stapel, part II

January 17, 2012

I just read this excellent commentary (thanks to Andrew Gelman for pointing it out). It made me realize that the conclusion of my post on Diederik Stapel may have been somewhat one sided. As Sanjay Srivastava states (and you should definitely read the article yourself), journals can be either groundbreaking or definitive, but not both. Groundbreaking journals will publish articles that have the potential to change our thinking about old problems and open up new avenues of research. But there is are inherent risks with such research – there is a higher chance that the results will not be verified.  Therefore such articles will not be definitive — definitive articles are likely going to appear in more mundane, lower-impact journals.

So let me then add the following to my previous post: There is nothing inherently wrong with journals like Nature and Science soliciting the “coolest” new research and publishing it in an easily digestible format. It is up to us to follow Sanjay Srivastava’s advice that “Our standard response to a paper in Science, Nature, or Psychological Science should be “wow, that’ll be really interesting if it replicates.”

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One Comment
  1. The President for the Society for Neuroscience has just weighed in on impact factors. Here’s a quote from the latest SfN Quarterly:

    “Curiously, studies have shown the majority of articles published in the highest-impact journals, such as Nature, are hardly cited at all. On the other hand, The Journal of Neuroscience has a lower impact factor, but produces articles that have a high citation rate and are highly regarded. Impact factors are disliked and heavily criticized, but are still used to rank papers inappropriately. In this regard, PubMed is the most popular way to find papers. Interestingly, the name of the journal is usually not the main criteria for a search of the literature in PubMed. In time, PubMed and other search programs should equalize the journals, regardless of impact factor.”

    The link for that article is: http://www.sfn.org/index.aspx?pagename=nq_12spring_message

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