My husband is actually having surgery today and in the waiting room they have the latest Time Magazine and I immediately turned to the article Modern Science has a publish-or-perish problem. I am very familiar with this since I have been involved in healthcare research (in one way shape or form) for almost 2 decades.
There is a push from many healthcare-related industries to publish. Now, I love reading articles and I honor people who not only take time to conduct the research but then to write about it and share it with me and others who read it. But what I do have a problem with is the “circle of authors, reviewers and editors” that like to keep their circle close-knitted. And this circle gets smaller and smaller, with usual suspects from well-known Colleges and Universities.
The pressure to join the elite quintile, with all of its career-boosting cachet, is intense. ~ Dr. Charlotte Haug, vice chair of the Committee on Publication Ethics
Time’s article reports a scandal conducted by a Chinese publishing organization that offered to publish articles, let people be authors, co-authors – for a price. One of the main reasons for this is to make life easier for academics in need of a quick career boost. As it is known in academic circles – it’s publish or famine (or be fired). But please understand that this problem is not only in China. There have been multiple reports about the increasing number of scientific studies that have been retracted such as this one reported by CBS news (click here).
The scary part is that deception, whether intentional or not, is not limited to scientific publications. Every poll printed in the newspapers or reported on TV all have their own biases:
- The people asking the questions
- Who they ask
- Who funds the project or study
- Who reports it
And the list goes on and on.
And as easy as it is for us to blame “them” for bad data, bad designs, bad reporting – the onerous is on us to be intelligent readers and users of information. It’s all to easy to take something you agree with and support it blindly OR to take something you disagree with and pick it apart. What is hard is to think about what you are reading, the source of information and who is publishing it – and look at it from multiple angles – or at least to take it with a grain of salt.
What you read may be deceiving, but it’s on you to think before you leap to conclusions.