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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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April 24, 2012

That's Some Fine Editorial Work There

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Posted by Derek

Since I've mentioned the scientific publication business today, I thought I'd include this story from Retraction Watch as an example of what you're paying for when you pay Elsevier for quality control. When's the last time you saw a paper withdrawn because it "contains no scientific content"? Or noticed that the lead author's email contract address was at the domain ""?

Comments (12) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: The Scientific Literature


1. RM on April 24, 2012 11:26 AM writes...

The email address isn't really an issue in and of itself. After all, "Student" of Student's t-test fame was actually employed by the Guinness brewery, and was published under a pseudonym simply to keep Guinness's use of statistics a trade secret. I wouldn't discount a paper just because the lead author works for a beer company. (Though being rather than the more likely might raise a few eyebrows.)

The total lack of content and nonsensical phrasing, however, is sufficient reason to discount the paper.

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2. BCP on April 24, 2012 1:04 PM writes...

That reads like one of those computer generated research papers that effectively spews up pages of cliches and buzzwords without requiring any actual content.

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3. Haha on April 24, 2012 2:54 PM writes...

This is a problematic problem.

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4. dvizard on April 24, 2012 3:22 PM writes...

Are you going to write anything about the Merck Serono cuts?

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5. Will on April 24, 2012 4:41 PM writes...

"contains no scientific conduct" is an apt description of many a group meeting i sat through

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6. John on April 24, 2012 8:29 PM writes...

The quality control for review is only as good as the reviewers and editors. So isn't the onus on us as scientist rather than the publisher? It seems to me this could have occurred just as easily with an open access journal.

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7. Spiny Norman on April 24, 2012 10:10 PM writes...

A priori, having a brewery for an address does not preclude making an important contribution to mathematics.

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8. Kalimuthu on April 25, 2012 6:43 AM writes...

This is a most important paper, how can you dare to make fun of it? Search google and you will find many more originating from the collaboration with my good friend Sivasubramanian! I highly recommend to you our groundbreaking work on Einstein's variance of mass with velocity equation, published in African Journal of Mathematics and Computer Science Research, 2009.

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9. Tom on April 25, 2012 7:30 AM writes...
Another nice story about an Elsevier journal. Paper submitted Friday, accepted without qualifications Monday.

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10. Rock on April 25, 2012 10:42 AM writes...

I propose two changes to the way scientific manuscripts are reviewed that should address 99% of the issues seen in recent years. 1) Change the editors from prominent (and extremely busy) professors to independent consultants who have been put out of work in this downsizing era. There are many highly qualified scientists in many of the disciplines with enough time on their hands to actually read the papers and the reviews carefully. The editor really can set the tone for quality. They should, of course, receive a few for this service 2) Go back to the old system where the editors choose the reviewers. Most journals now require you to send them a list of potential reviewers at the time of submission. "Hmmm, should I send it to this tough professor who will be very critical, or should I send it to a few of my friends?".....Which option do you think people choose? And if the editor reads both the paper and the reviews, they can judge the quality of both. These simple changes, to me, would greatly increase the quality and decrease the quantity of much of the literature.

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11. DCRogers on April 25, 2012 11:18 AM writes...

The paper is retracted, but still available for purchase at $39.95 via ScienceDirect.

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12. hn on April 25, 2012 4:16 PM writes...

Out of print, special collector's edition! Get them before they're gone forever!

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