“Distorting incentives” in academic research

16 Dec

Noble prize winning scientist Randy Schekman has written an explosive piece in The Guardian titled: How journals like Nature, Cell and Science are damaging science. His subtitle, “The incentives offered by top journals distort science, just as big bonuses distort banking,” gives us his central message.

From his article:

“It is common, and encouraged by many journals, for research to be judged by the impact factor of the journal that publishes it. But as a journal’s score is an average, it says little about the quality of any individual piece of research. What is more, citation is sometimes, but not always, linked to quality. A paper can become highly cited because it is good science – or because it is eye-catching, provocative or wrong. Luxury-journal editors know this, so they accept papers that will make waves because they explore sexy subjects or make challenging claims. This influences the science that scientists do. It builds bubbles in fashionable fields where researchers can make the bold claims these journals want, while discouraging other important work, such as replication studies.”

Here is a video of Randy Schekman winning the Nobel Prize (in this video you will see Schekman given a life time parking pass by his university, only an academic can appreciate the magnitude of such an honor):

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One Response to ““Distorting incentives” in academic research”


  1. [Reblog] Last week “clinical trial system broken”; this week “luxury journals distort/damage science” « Health and Medical News and Resources - December 16, 2013

    […] “Distorting incentives” in academic research (peakmemory.me) […]

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