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Elite Group of Researchers Rule Scientific Publishing

samzenpus posted about three weeks ago | from the publish-or-perish dept.

Education 123

sciencehabit writes Publishing is one of the most ballyhooed metrics of scientific careers, and every researcher hates to have a gap in that part of his or her CV. Here's some consolation: A new study finds that very few scientists—fewer than 1%—manage to publish a paper every year. But these 150,608 scientists dominate the research journals, having their names on 41% of all papers. Among the most highly cited work, this elite group can be found among the co-authors of 87% of papers. Students, meanwhile, may spend years on research that yields only one or a few papers. "[I]n these cases, the research system may be exploiting the work of millions of young scientists," the authors conclude.

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host file apk (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47444721)

i like hostfile

Re:host file apk (3, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about three weeks ago | (#47444875)

1% Elitism is EVERYWHERE.

Re:host file apk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445319)

1% Elitism is EVERYWHERE.

Ahem. It's called corruption. Get your shit straight.

No wonder it's taken a dominant position.

Re: host file apk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47447211)

At the place where I work, there are thousands of engineers, but only a small percentage ever publish books. The others are...you know...working as engineers.

GERMANY HAS WON THE WORLD CUP! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47444735)

Germany has beat Argentina 1-0 to win the 2014 World Cup! Germany has won the World Cup! GERMANY ARE THE WORLD CHAMPIONS!

this just in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47444755)

1% of scientists publish more papers that the other 99%.

Re:this just in... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47444843)

What percentage of these are about Global Warming?

What the fuck are they supposed to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47444861)

What's the problem with being good at what you do? So there are 1% of researchers who are really fucking good at what they do. They aren't just good, they are REALLY FUCKING GOOD. They are top 1% good. They are THE BEST IN THE WORLD. So why should we be surprised that they have such an impact?

It's the same in all sorts of fields. Like look at the C programmers who work on the Linux kernel. They probably make up way less than 1% of all C programmers, never mind all programmers. Yet their contribution is ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE! They punch way way way above their weight. Thanks to them the world goes round each and every day!

It's even the same in sports! Just look at how a player like Michael Jordan can not only just lead his team, but he can single-handedly dominate an ENTIRE LEAGUE! Sonofabitch, just look at what happened today at the World Cup. Germany absolutely dominated that South American team and destroyed them 1-0. What should Germany have done, pretended they aren't the BEST FOOTBALL CLUB in the world and allowed the South Americans to win? Absolutely not! THE BEST NEED TO EXCEL! That is just now nature works!

Or just look at music. Look at Michael Jackson. He is just one musician among many, but he RULED THE WORLD!

What are these guys supposed to do? Lower themselves to the level of the other 99%? No, they shouldn't do that. They're damn good, so they should be the top 1% and they should give a TOP 1% EFFORT! If that means dominating the field, then so be it. We aren't playing games here. This isn't kindergarten where everybody needs to feel good. This is about DOING THE BEST WORK and if these guys and gals can do it, then let them. Let them be THE DOMINATORS!

Re:What the fuck are they supposed to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47444901)

not sure if trolling....

Re:What the fuck are they supposed to do? (3, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about three weeks ago | (#47444947)

What's the problem with being good at what you do? So there are 1% of researchers who are really fucking good at what they do. They aren't just good, they are REALLY FUCKING GOOD. They are top 1% good. They are THE BEST IN THE WORLD. So why should we be surprised that they have such an impact?

They are getting 99% of the academic tail, too.

Re:What the fuck are they supposed to do? (3, Informative)

jythie (914043) | about three weeks ago | (#47445073)

Because they are not doing the best work. Often they are not doing any of the work, they simply have brand value.

Re:What the fuck are they supposed to do? (4, Insightful)

Beck_Neard (3612467) | about three weeks ago | (#47445737)

Because it's almost literally impossible for someone to actually put in all of the work required to publish hundreds of papers during their career. A paper might typically take six months of gruelling, full-time work. Instead of actually doing the work, what a lot of scientists do is they bring in a lot of students and act as project supervisors, as it says in the article: "Many of these prolific scientists are likely the heads of laboratories or research groups; they bring in funding, supervise research, and add their names to the numerous papers that result." In other words, they drop in for maybe half an hour every two weeks or so to get an 'update' (without really understanding anything), throw around some bs pieces of 'advice' (which everyone ignores) and then leave.

Re:What the fuck are they supposed to do? (3, Insightful)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | about three weeks ago | (#47447535)

...what a lot of scientists do is they bring in a lot of students and act as project supervisors, as it says in the article: "Many of these prolific scientists are likely the heads of laboratories or research groups; they bring in funding, supervise research, and add their names to the numerous papers that result."..

But bringing in funding is in fact the bulk of the 'scientific' work. To bring in funding you must have a good research idea, a detailed research plan, the political nous to persuade others that it is worth spending money on, and then the management ability to make sure your ideas are followed through by the post-docs and students that you recruit to follow the plan. Of course you should get your name on the resulting publication.

Just an opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47444757)

...and a negative one at that.

Could it ever possibly be that these scientists who "dominate" the scientific publishing are actually worthy of such a thing?

You know, like smart and dedicated workers earning larger salaries.

What do these complainers want, "fairness" instead of competition?

Bleh!

Re:Just an opinion... (3, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | about three weeks ago | (#47444787)

...and a negative one at that.

Could it ever possibly be that these scientists who "dominate" the scientific publishing are actually worthy of such a thing?

Indeed. And besides, compared to the star system in Hollywood, for example, this is downright democratic.

The intellectual penury that comes with serving with a leader in a given field seems to be gladly endured by most young researchers. This story ignores the fact that, although the senior researcher's name may be at the top of the paper, the junior researcher's name is right there below it.

It's a bit like an actor accepting a lesser credit in order to appear in a bigger film.

Re:Just an opinion... (5, Interesting)

Idarubicin (579475) | about three weeks ago | (#47444885)

The intellectual penury that comes with serving with a leader in a given field seems to be gladly endured by most young researchers. This story ignores the fact that, although the senior researcher's name may be at the top of the paper, the junior researcher's name is right there below it.

Actually, in many of the sciences (mathematics and parts of physics are notable exceptions, where authors tend to be listed alphabetically) it is usually the graduate student or postdoc who did most of the work who is the first author on the paper. The senior researcher - a principal investigator who actually has the academic appointment, who may have secured the funding, and who is ultimately responsible for the lab - is generally listed as the last author on the manuscript. ("Middle" authorship has the least cachet by far.)

Broadly speaking, young scientists and trainees want to accumulate as many first-author papers as possible, to demonstrate their scientific productivity. Faculty members - senior scientists - want to accumulate last-author papers, to demonstrate that their labs are productive.

Re:Just an opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445925)

Small correction: Mathematics and physics are in general not an exception to the rule: First author did most of the work, the last is the guy who got the funding. Huge projects with hundreds of names (think CERN, FERMILAB), however, do publish alphabetically. This is not how most of it works, though.

Re:Just an opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47446125)

My particle physics collaboration (Belle) goes: The group of researchers that contributed directly to the paper, more or less in order of amount of work contributed, then the 1-300 other collaboration members that read and agreed with the paper's findings.

Re:Just an opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47446509)

Incorrect. The norm, as stated by the American Mathematical Society and in pratice is all major journals, is that mathematicians publish alphebetically. This is done regardless of the amount of work done by each author.

Re: Just an opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47446519)

I can't speak to Physics, but math definitely obeys the Hardy-Littlewood alphabetical convention. See http://www.ams.org/profession/leaders/culture/CultureStatement04.pdf for a philosophical explanation of this standard.

Re:Just an opinion... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about three weeks ago | (#47444805)

Given how relatively time-consuming research is(and how negative results, however valid, tend to have difficulty moving papers), it would be...surprising... to hear that one percent of the scientists are co-authoring 41 percent of the papers on sheer productivity.

Re:Just an opinion... (5, Informative)

Idarubicin (579475) | about three weeks ago | (#47445365)

Given how relatively time-consuming research is(and how negative results, however valid, tend to have difficulty moving papers), it would be...surprising... to hear that one percent of the scientists are co-authoring 41 percent of the papers on sheer productivity.

Actually, not so surprising, depending on how the analysis is done. And it also depends a lot on how you want to measure "sheer productivity". A supervisor who helps design the experiment, interpret the data, write the paper, and communicate with journal editors probably spends fewer hours than the trainee (grad student or postdoc) who actually does all the bench work--but that doesn't mean that the supervisor hasn't earned an authorship credit.

If Alice, Bob, Carol, Dave, and Elsa are all graduate students in Dr. Frink's lab, and each of those students publishes two papers over the course of their PhD programs, then all of those students are going to be authors on 2 papers each, and Frink will be an author on 10 papers. Dr. Frink is 1 out of 6 scientists - a bit less than 17% - but is on 100% of the papers. If you have a big lab in a relatively hot (or well-funded) field, then your name is going to be on a lot of papers.

And papers these days - especially the high-impact, widely-read, highly-cited papers - tend to have a longer list of authors. If you look at the table of contents [sciencemag.org] for the most recent issue of Science, the two Research Articles have 26 and 12 authors. Out of the dozen or so Reports, one has 4 authors, two have 5, all the rest have more. Speaking personally and anecdotally, my last three manuscripts (in the biomedical sciences) had 8, 3, and 7 authors.

Going back to "1% of scientists are on 45% of papers"--well, if those are all six-author papers, then that top 1% is only responsible for a 7.5% share (45 divided by 6) of the "output". Given that there is a very long tail of authors who only have 1, 2, or 3 authorships in their lifetime (the majority of PhD graduates never end up conducting research as university faculty; there just aren't enough jobs), I am willing to believe that there is a small fraction of productive, top scientists whose names are on a disproportionately large share of papers.

Re: Just an opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47446555)

Don't forget the research vs. teaching load variation as well - no 4/4 job would expect a paper each year from a faculty member, however someone with a grant that 'buys out' their teaching load to 1/1 would be expected to have multiple papers or something completely groundbreaking.

Re:Just an opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47446685)

Dr Frink would have been lead author on a lot of papers before he got to run the lab, because that is the only way to get to run the lab in the first place.

Re:Just an opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47444943)

...and a negative one at that.

Could it ever possibly be that these scientists who "dominate" the scientific publishing are actually worthy of such a thing?

Doubtful, often the head of a department is only on a paper because he is, well, head of the department. I have various publications (journals and conference papers) co-authored by a head of department with the intellectual contribution being "correcting the references" (if any at all). I don't agree with this practice, but it is difficult to avoid it when you are not at the point of switching the lab anyway.

Re:Just an opinion... (1)

gweihir (88907) | about three weeks ago | (#47444961)

At least in CS, they are not. They often do not even recognize fraud and fabrications their name is on. These people hold scientific progress back by maintaining the status-quo and squashing anybody that has good ideas, lest they be recognized for the frauds they are. Yes, I have run into this repeatedly and I know what I am talking about. In one case, it was to blatant, that the remaining 3 "dominant" authors (first was the PhD student) even issues a paper basically admitting fraud, but only after their student had graduated. Gross scientific misconduct at the very least, yet nothing happened to any of them.

When misbehavior isn't punished (2, Interesting)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | about three weeks ago | (#47446441)

I guess our problem is that we haven't been able to accurately discern between *publishing* and *publishing something useful*. We've built an economy based on how many papers you can shove through the system, without regard to their quality. Build a system with certain incentives, and you'll get fairly predictable outcomes.

It seems like it would take some pretty severe sanctions, and perhaps bounties for those who exposed fraud, before it will really stop.

Re: When misbehavior isn't punished (1)

KramberryKoncerto (2552046) | about three weeks ago | (#47446541)

Build a system that offers only short term incentives, you can often end up, pretty predictably, with *nothing useful at all*. Lots of research is useless, but they often turn out to be so only after some difficult exploration. It's not very often that you can validly point to a researcher and say "I told you so". There are also research that look promising in early stages and turn out to be pure crap. Research is a treasure hunt - you dig the ground and most of the time it's just plain soil. You should reward risk-taking, because that's like paying the scientists of America each for a discount-price lottery ticket. And the results: even with immensely high research costs over the country, the overall profit is huge.

Re:Just an opinion... (1)

davydagger (2566757) | about three weeks ago | (#47445043)

except its also come out that fraud is rampant, and its well known within the scentific community, that scientists with really long lists of "achievements" are most likely fakers who took shortcuts, or used bad methodology in order to further their career.

>You know, like smart and dedicated workers earning larger salaries.

this is a myth. intellegence and dedication never earned anyone a larger salary. finding a position that pays more does.

speaking of research scentists, did you know they make next to nothing, despite working really hard, and requiring intellegence that less that %1 of the population has?

making more money than they do are people who develop shitty CSS/HTML apps with limited use to humanity.

but your definition of productive only represents dollar figures, and not true economic productivity as by what most people need to survive, and what benefits the population as a whole.

Re:Just an opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445289)

Exactly, a city garbage man probably makes more than a post-doc researcher. Not hating on the garbage man, he does unpleasant work and should have a decent standard of living in exchange, but this idea that hardworking smart people make a ton of money is absolutely false. Often the very opposite is true, with a bunch of overworked underpaid H1Bs with STEM Phd's being bossed around by some Ivy fratboy with a legacy admissions MBA.

Re:Just an opinion... (2)

petermgreen (876956) | about three weeks ago | (#47445585)

I just did some googling and it seems here in the UK a full time gabage collector would make about £12K per year (though it's paid hourly and in practice it may be difficult to find full time work).

I'm just about to start a postdoc position on just under £30K per year.

Re:Just an opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445839)

Sounds like the garbagemen in the UK need a better union...

Average Yearly Garbage Man Salary $42,512 - $63,768
Starting Yearly Garbage Man Salary $35,010 - $52,514
Top Yearly Garbage Man Salary $50,014 - $75,021

http://garbagemansalary.net/NY/New-York/salary/Garbage-Man-Salary

Kinda minimizes "consensus", doesn't it? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47444767)

And since when does "consensus" mean anything in science?

Well, outside of subjects where it's heresy to even attempt to falsify any claims, anyway...

Re:Kinda minimizes "consensus", doesn't it? (3, Insightful)

bunratty (545641) | about three weeks ago | (#47444839)

All that stuff in science textbooks has been the consensus of scientists for years. How else are you going to decide what to put in a textbook beside consensus? Just put in your textbook things you would like to believe are true?

Re:Kinda minimizes "consensus", doesn't it? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445045)

Consensus is something the vast majority (of experts in a field, in this case) agree on. For instance, there is consensus among biologists that the organisms of today evolved from organisms that existed in the past.
Falsifying claims is the worst thing a scientist can do. Once they're caught their career is over. That's why it's news when it happens but you never see a politician or CEO caught lying making the news since it happens all the time

This is a non-news article. Of course the top x% of anything are better on that metric than the others, otherwise they wouldn't be on top. Next they will tell us that half the population is below the median.
On science you have public funding, which goes to the guys who get results, so it's a no-brainer that the guys with a dozen people under them will publish more. Not only are they more often than not better than the average, they also have the money and the bright people needed to get the job done.

Re:Kinda minimizes "consensus", doesn't it? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445263)

Some economists at Harvard got busted publishing fake crap that support hokey rightwing anti-tax ideology and nothing happened, they just said "oops, gosh, we just made a mistake using Excel" and it blew over. The lamest part is it was published in a supposedly peer reviewed journal yet their fraud was only exposed by an undergrad a public university. I have a lot of respect for physical sciences but these "human sciences" like economics and psychology are full of shit.

Re:Kinda minimizes "consensus", doesn't it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47446549)

Proof, or it didn't happen.

Re:Kinda minimizes "consensus", doesn't it? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47446701)

All over the news [wikipedia.org] . The previous poster got some of the details wrong, but I can understand his anger even if this study was not peer-reviewed and thus not an ample representation of science.

Re:Kinda minimizes "consensus", doesn't it? (2)

mpe (36238) | about three weeks ago | (#47446943)

Some economists at Harvard got busted publishing fake crap that support hokey rightwing anti-tax ideology and nothing happened, they just said "oops, gosh, we just made a mistake using Excel" and it blew over. The lamest part is it was published in a supposedly peer reviewed journal yet their fraud was only exposed by an undergrad a public university.

Most likely "peer reviewers" only checked that the paper is consistent with "economics" (or whatever the specific "science" in question is). How often do they look for errors with mathematics or logic? No doubt such reviewers also tend to assume things like measuring instruments, software packages, etc being used correctly and that things which depend on another science havn't been misinterpreted/misunderstood.
Also this case appears to be a "genuine mistake". Whereas with actual fraud you'd expect at least some attempt at obsucation.

I have a lot of respect for physical sciences but these "human sciences" like economics and psychology are full of shit.

Those possibly arn't even the best examples. This sort of thing even has a specific term in the field of medical research :)

Re:Kinda minimizes "consensus", doesn't it? (1)

stoborrobots (577882) | about three weeks ago | (#47446863)

... attempt to falsify any claims...

Falsifying claims is the worst thing a scientist can do. Once they're caught their career is over.

This a misunderstanding of the the term "falsify". Unfortunately, there are two well-understood meanings [oxforddictionaries.com] for the word:

In the sciences, we use the second meaning of the word a lot. It is considered a good thing. We propose an idea, or make a claim, then find ways to test the idea/claim. A useful idea in science is one which is said to be "falsifiable", that is, one which it is theoretically possible to disprove. If you can find a way to test your claim, and state beforehand which results will prove that your claim is wrong, then your claim is falsifiable, and is now a scientific claim. [rationalwiki.org] Then you run the test, and see what results it gives. If you get any results which don't falslify your claim, then the claim stands for a little longer. If you get results which falsify your claim, you throw the claim away and come up with a new claim. So science moves forward when we make claims and attempt to falsify them.

Using the first meaning of the word, you might say that someone "falsified some data" [telegraph.co.uk] . That would be a bad thing. This is not the common usage of the word in the scientific community, but is a popular understanding of the word elsewhere, so the distinction is worth calling out.

Notably, you can lie about data, but you generally can't lie about a claim; so context is essential in determining whether the verb "falsify": lying about data/evidence/results is bad, but attempting to disprove claims/ideas/hypothesis is good.

How about that. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47444779)

.... “In many disciplines, doctoral students may be enrolled in high numbers, offering a cheap workforce,” ....

Well, yeah.

College is expensive. You need experience.

And in the US, I wonder how many are foreign who are stuck in those positions.

And a cheap workforce flies in the face of there being a shortage of scientists.

www.vipnt.net (-1, Flamebait)

www.vipnt.net (3745121) | about three weeks ago | (#47444793)

good ! www.vipnt.net

result of the lab/funding system (0, Flamebait)

Trepidity (597) | about three weeks ago | (#47444813)

It's increasingly the job of professors at research universities in the sciences to be more of a "research manager" than a "researcher". They're expected to have a big lab of 5-15 students and postdocs, and to bring in enough grant funding to pay for this lab. The ones who are successful at this lab-head game bring in a bunch of money, have a large lab, and as a result oversee a lot of work that comes out of that lab, most of which has them as a co-author. Individual researchers without a team can't really compete against that.

Re:result of the lab/funding system (3, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | about three weeks ago | (#47444913)

Yep, and no matter what you think of Edison, the modern research lab was primarily his invention. A modern lab tends to know what it is looking for (eg: practical light bulb) and is all about the finding the steps to get there (trial and error), compared to say Newton who mainly followed his own curiosity. The trick to being a lead researcher is finding a rich problem space for the students to work on that will attract grants.

Re:result of the lab/funding system (2)

mpe (36238) | about three weeks ago | (#47446799)

The trick to being a lead researcher is finding a rich problem space for the students to work on that will attract grants.

This is likely to also result in all sorts of politics being attached to getting funding. At best only a subset of possible research areas, which happen to be PC, will get funding. At worst getting the "wrong" results means it then becomes even more difficult to attract grants.
Such a situation can easily lead to "research" which is either poor, even pseudo, science. Since there can be a lot more money in attempts at confirmation than attempts at falsification.

Re:result of the lab/funding system (4, Interesting)

pavon (30274) | about three weeks ago | (#47444997)

I would even argue that as long as the students who did most of the work have their name listed as first author, there is nothing wrong with this arrangement. I dropped out of my master's program after the first semester because I was being pushed to publish, but wasn't being plugged into any research existing programs. Every "unique" idea that I thought of turned out to have already been studied exhaustively back in the 70's or earlier. All the favorite students in the grad program were people who ignored this inconvientent fact and managed to get rehashed bullshit accepted into conferences.

Several years later I went back to school at a large state U that plugged me into the work they were doing, showed me what the state of the art was and where there were gaps that hadn't been researched in detail. Without building off the ideas of my advisor I would have never been able to do meaningfull research that progressed the state of the art, and would have had nothing worth publishing. He deserved to have his name on my papers.

Re:result of the lab/funding system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445721)

It's increasingly the job of professors at research universities in the sciences to be more of a "research manager" than a "researcher".

..., there is nothing wrong with this arrangement... Without building off the ideas of my advisor I would have never been able to do meaningfull research...

Mentoring and collaboration are definitely a key to successful research.

All the favorite students in the grad program were people who ignored this inconvientent fact and managed to get rehashed bullshit accepted into conferences.

But there is a problem - that you implicitly identify yourself. The administrators who set the publication quotas often aren't tuned into the fact that the people who are getting their names on lots of papers aren't actually doing the research themselves. The administrator thinks: OK, so the top guys are able to produce a dozen or so papers per year: anyone who doesn't produce at least one top quality paper per year is a total slacker.

And what that means is that a lot of scientists are being forced to spend most of their time publishing rehashed bullshit to meet quota and feed their families. If the goal of scientific research is to produce important scientific discoveries as efficiently as possible then all this wasted effort is a huge problem. Of course, lots of research efforts hit a dead end and need to be abandoned: you don't want to spend decades doing the same thing with absolutely no progress.

But the bottom line is that the current obsession with "accountability" - counting publications and grant dollars - is actually a major impediment to efficient scientific progress.

Re: result of the lab/funding system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47446153)

To me it sounds like the solution is improved detection and rejection of rehashed bullshit.

Re: result of the lab/funding system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47446413)

Yes, but how? Peer review is not cutting it. Suppose you were not all that well educated on what has already been done, and what has not. You get an idea, try to find if anyone has done any work on it, but find none. You carry out the study and try to publish. A peer reviewer sees that it is essentially a rehash of the old idea, carried out with modern methods, and perhaps says it is novel enough for the journal. The editor agrees and your paper is rejected. What do you do? Well, I can tell you that nobody would abandon the paper if it is already in a written manuscript form. Instead, most scientists would not even go and generate more data for the paper, but rather, if they are even honest, cite the original work, but just mention it in passing and emphasize that what was done in their study was, in fact, slightly different. And they'd be right: The original papers probably used slightly different techniques. They now send the paper to a different journal and hope for a different referee (which in all likelyhood is going to happen, especially as you do get to recommend referees; the editor needs not abide by these recommendations, though). The odds are ever in your favor for if you were not aware of the previous publications before, it is a near-certainty that the average peer is not aware of them either.

Let's start deconstructing the story from the beginning. Why was the researcher not aware of the previous, perhaps well-known, work? Just wrong Google keywords? That, too, can be an issue, because in 30 years the terminology does evolve with the field. If one has not been there when it began to change, as fields become more interdisciplinary, the change might be difficult to see. And who was there since the beginning? If the current field is essentially a mash-up of people from several fields, medicine and physics, say, how should a medical researcher be aware of the stuff that has been done in physics? Should it be expected? I'd say yes, it should: Either you learn the stuff, or get a co-author who knows the stuff that you don't want to learn. However, publish or perish. You have to start contributing and publishing even before you have a good grasp on the field, so when you venture off to new paths, it is easy to get to hasty conclusions. This pressure to publish is why you keep trying different journals even after being initially rejected. If you don't get this piece out, you've wasted months of lab resources.

If the manuscript is rejected from one journal, surely, surely in this age of internet and open access to all kinds of information, the editor of the next journal will have the reports by the peer reviewrs at hand. Nope. What? Nope. With very few exceptions (notably PeerJ [peerj.com] ) peer review reports are not made public in any for or shared across journals (sometimes they are, when the publisher of the journals is the same). There are efforts to change this [peerageofscience.org] , but academia is a slowly moving beast, and is run by governments and government funding, something that is even slower to change.

Finally, after a successful shopping for peer reviewers, the paper is published. What about post-publication peer review? Surely someone will publicly point out that the results have already been known for a long time. Maybe the peer reviewer of the original submission should come out and denounce the work? No such luck. Happens very rarely, for people don't want to stick their necks out and contradict their peers when they know that these peers are going to be sitting on the other side of the peer review or a grant application at some point or another. See for example this piece of news [discovermagazine.com] on a recent writeup by a Harvard professor: He's essentially arguing that research showing previous research false is wrong and should not be published. My phrasing was perhaps too extreme, but read the article and judge for yourself; I think you'll get the picture that scientists really, really, don't like it when people criticize their work in public.

To me, peer review is broken. I have absolutely no trust in my colleagues' ability to judge my work, especially as I am working at an intersection of fields. I've come across peers who, in essence, did not know what Newton's laws of motion are, and quickly recommended the rejection of a manuscript of mine. Others have rediscovered these, or similarly fundamental concepts [slashdot.org] , and yet others not understood that their work is in direct contradiction with them. As an alternative, I would suggest something like the GitHub, as advocated by Clay Shirky [ted.com] . Organizing around these principles has worked wonders for the open source community, and science is supposed to be about openness and sharing, but in the current system decisions are made in secret and based on the whim of a few people, who might take offense [scientificamerican.com] , not just on the content of what you say, but on its wording. This all is made worse by the way funding works, and how one's worthiness is measured in terms of numbers of publications or the avenues used for these. I will not even go into these issues here.

Re:result of the lab/funding system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445819)

While I respect your position, the notion of people largely being locked-out of the fields for which they are extensively trained in, without the "permission" (and what you are describing is not terribly far from being merely that, particularly given what is "in demand" is essentially circularly determined by the same people) of another person, who receives a disproportionate benefit (and make no mistake, his ongoing "establishment" position ensures he will gain more from your work than you will)--I find ethically very troubling and ultimately unsustainable.

Sometimes, people get a fair deal. Sometimes, they've just convinced themselves they have because their ego won't allow them to conclude otherwise, when confronted with the reality they had no choice but to allow themselves to be cheated. I'm glad you feel you are in the former category. Many others aren't. Increasingly narrow scientific niches and increasing monopolization of those that still emerge guarantees there will be many more.

Re:result of the lab/funding system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445845)

First of all, I agree, there is nothing inherently wrong with the mentor system you describe. However, it does quite often lead to extreme outcomes, and I will describe some below. While of course not all research groups are like I say that they might, many of the most successful are. And by success in science we mean publications. And grants. Oh, the grants. These are numbers and much easier to measure and define than some vague concept of scientific value and soundness. Hello Taylorism in science, we were so eagerly waiting for you to arrive. I hope that some day we might close the 100 year gap in terms of how we think about organizing ourselves when compared to business.

The sort of incremental work you describe is easy to do, and anyone with a PhD has probably at least a dozen research ideas that should lead to a decent publication (might not be a flagship venue, but an average, no nonsense, well-respected journal). This is to say that being a manager of a research group is not that difficult (from the science point of view, with grants it is all cut-throat and politics). It gets less demanding as the group grows in size and when there are enough senior researchers who not only do not need any guidance, but rather can guide the more junior folk. I could go on and on on this topic describing the ways that make it very easy in the modern era (especially lamenting on peer review), but will restrain myself from going off-topic.

Most PIs who have large labs are managers. While they do often take interest in writing papers (and more importantly, grant applications) and pitching ideas that they've overheard in some recent conference, you will rarely see them doing any actual research. It is a sad state of affairs when someone who is supposedly an elite scientist with decades of training is no longer actively working on the science anymore, but has decided to "graduate" to a position where they just manage others doing the stuff. Quite often the lab structures are somewhat hierarchical, depending on the lab size and style, and the group leader might have little to no interaction with the youngest members of the group: They often work with PhD students, who themselves are under the guidance of postdocs or other junior faculty, who are typically senior enough to have a well defined set of research interests and goals. This is again to emphasize that much of the scientific input does not come from the top, but rather it is a bottom-up process. You can absolutely not find anything new and surprising if you don't immerse yourself in the work.

Now, I said that the typical leader of a large research group is a manager. Yet they've not read a single book on management, for surely a natural scientist, and one with their own research group at that, must be able to outsmart the past hundred years of research into organization and other social phenomena. Managing people isn't science. It's is easy. Well, so they tend to say, implicitly. When I ask about Drucker they sneer, or give me a blank stare for they have no idea who I am talking about.

Finally, why? Why should anyone want to become a manager? Because it's publish or perish, baby. The guy or gal at the top gets their name on all the papers, so of course this is the ideal position to be at if you want to show off the usefulness of the research by publication metrics. In closing; why should a hands-off manager be any more eligible for authorship of a scientific paper than a CEO is to have his name on a patent?

Re:result of the lab/funding system (3, Interesting)

Beck_Neard (3612467) | about three weeks ago | (#47446481)

Having a good supervisor is extremely important. The arrangement where your supervisor is a person who is knowledgable, up-to-date, and respected in their field, and draws on his years of experience to guide your through work and train you as a scientist, is the ideal on which the supervisor-student relationship is based on. A person like that more than deserves to have their name on the work you do while under their tutelage.

But going by what I've seen, such a relationship is, sadly, rare. A lot of students are victims of supervisors who either "don't care" or have been effectively outside their field of study for so long (with all the grant-writing) that they have simply no clue about research anymore. Your first experience seems to be the norm.

not a funding issue (2)

globaljustin (574257) | about three weeks ago | (#47445927)

you talk as if the problem in TFA is a funding issue...

there needs to be more public funding of research for sure, and bigger budgets for state universities...yes all true

however, you're giving these professors in TFA a free pass and blameshifting

TFA is about **THE TOP PUBLISHERS** not just the highest PhD in each department...

to call this a funding issue is to miss the root cause: the professors themselves

it's out of control in academia...really it is become awful...narcissistic tenured prof's staying on 20 years past when they should have retired to make room for new younger talent

jews took over academia by citing each other (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47444817)

they peer review each other's papers and then cite each other's papers and then try to tell everyone that it's because jews are smarter than everyone (because they are chosen by god of course!). biggest scam since bernie madoff.

Re:jews took over academia by citing each other (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47446593)

You should try a new scam. Anti-Semitism is pretty old hat, it goes back to the Pharaohs. You have to be kind of stupid to engage in it.

Living under a rock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47444835)

"[I]n these cases, the research system may be exploiting the work of millions of young scientists," the authors conclude.

"May be"? Is this seriously supposed to be open to doubt?

hymenologists; creation is trysexual (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47444859)

any other notion can be disproved instantly... peer inwards to see out? some still calling this 'weather' http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=wmd+weather+cabal cover our traps?

This (0)

CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) | about three weeks ago | (#47444865)

This is the legitimacy behind the average climate change realists (deniers) claims.

Re:This (2)

bunratty (545641) | about three weeks ago | (#47444887)

Why? It would take only one scientist to falsify AGW [wordpress.com] . All we need now is the evidence.

Re:This (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445847)

"[C]limate change realist" hahaha, you're calling people who claim that a world-wide cabal of scientists are in a conspiracy to keep the "real truth" about global warming a secret "realists"? Best joke I've heard all week!

No sh*t (3, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | about three weeks ago | (#47444903)

Junior guys in [field] aren't as well known as senior guys and do most of the grunt work.

Film at 11.

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445031)

Can't believe this is considered news. Society is obviously becoming stupider.

Re:No sh*t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445301)

The shame of it though is that people who massage the feet of a random movie star are more likely to get in the credits for a movie than a "junior scientist" is to get credit for the scientific research they helped drive.

And that's pathetic.

Re:No sh*t (1)

Lally Singh (3427) | about three weeks ago | (#47446531)

Or equivalently "Graduate students are being exploited."

Re:No sh*t (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about three weeks ago | (#47446545)

That sound you heard is my point going over your head. (Hint: Being the lowest level grunt in a field is not "being exploited".)

At least at one big elite research university... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47444925)

Pretty much there are a ton of old famous researchers who teach classes and assign papers that have the students solve problems and come up with interesting topics, the best of which are hand picked by the professor and basically stolen.

Grad students and undergrads alike are turning into a new kind of intellectual slavery.

"Elite"? Not from the quality of what they produce (-1)

gweihir (88907) | about three weeks ago | (#47444937)

They are basically a classical "elite" in the sense of an aristocracy, i.e. they can publish and publish no matter what utter crap they produce. The scandals of the last few years are just the tip of the iceberg. I guess that Einstein and Shannon would be very hard pressed to get their stuff published today.

A real scientist is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445021)

A real scientist is best described by R. Dawkins
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWGAg9iGPLQ&list=PLKSmsr0k7vdmfoyf7Jjm_LaaRKZXx0Ad1#t=480

I did met some. None will never hear from them.

Amusing point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445095)

John Ionnadinis is one of the better publishing scientists who critiques science.

Yeah but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445107)

Are those papers any good or are they just banging out crap in a perverse game of "lets boost the testing metric while ignoring actual quality"?

flawed methodology (4, Insightful)

tommeke100 (755660) | about three weeks ago | (#47445169)

They took a publications database between 1996 and 2011, which contains about 15,000,000 authors.
There they found only 150,000 published every of those years.
Of course not all of those 15 million have been working in research for 16 years. Most graduate/PhD students are in research for 5 years and then they need to find another job.
Actually most people at my company were author or co-author of a paper at some point, and we only published because of some grants that required it.
So if you take out the people who really only have a couple of publications, or published for a small period of time, the picture will be completely different.
Take into account that you need people who's career actually span the 1996-2011 period (which filters out probably like 30% of people genuinely having a successfull academic career), and they actually paint a realistic picture of who the profs are or research leads.

Re:flawed methodology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445899)

This.

Also, a lot in science is about luck. Popularity contests always are: Once the ball gets rolling, it tends to get bigger and bigger. It's like in music or any art form. It is not always the best (in terms of technique) that rise to the top. It's the ones that market themselves appropriately and form networks that matter. You could argue that these are a natural part of what it is to be a scientist, or any professional: No profession is only about the technical side of things, socializing is always important as long as it is other people who define and decide on one's success. Science is often thought, by the general public, to be a great, self-correcting, beast with only the purest intentions. A true meritocracy where one's place is decided by one's wits alone. It is not.

How is this news? (2)

dlenmn (145080) | about three weeks ago | (#47445245)

I'm surprised the "dominating group" is that large. There aren't a ton of _senior_ scientist out there (i.e. professors or researchers with the funding for graduate students and postdocs), and those are the people whose names appear most frequently. A senior scientist will probably have been doing research for years, have lots of projects going on at once, have many students and postdocs, have a number of collaborators, and the senior scientist's name will go on every paper produced by that group (even if it's as a middle author -- which means next to nothing). New guys will often want to collaborate with the big names, which means the big names get on even more papers. If you're working on your own (i.e. you don't have the funding to hire others), then you won't publish as frequently.

What did you expect? Why is this an issue?

Sincerely,

A graduate student who has been working on a project for two years (and who should be working on a paper)

Re:How is this news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445459)

What did you expect? Why is this an issue?

Eventually you may find yourself in a post-doc position with a young family to support where the administrators at your institution have set a quota of one first author paper per year in a high impact journal or you're out of a job. You'll find yourself laying awake at 3am facing a tough choice - whether to spend most of your time churning out papers of marginal scientific value that are carefully polished to get past the reviewers of the high impact journals to meet your quota (and feed your family) - or whether to spend your time doing real scientific research (that's simply can't be guaranteed to succeed) and, as a result, miss your quota and struggle to feed your family.

The problem is that administrators tend to look at the senior scientists who are getting their names on multiple papers per year and assume that it's not at all unreasonable for a junior scientist doing all the work on a single project to produce at least one paper per year in a high impact journal. But TFA calls this assumption into question.

May be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445251)

Lmfao. Visit any fucking school and you'll see there's no 'maybe' about it.

Giving credit to the bosses (1)

sdack (601542) | about three weeks ago | (#47445379)

Probably every student will have the name of their professor on their paper. And almost every researcher will have the name of their manager or even the name of the director of their research institute on their paper. At least this is how it was while I was working at a research institute. The bosses will almost every time end up getting named as co-authors on every publication.

On the other hand, the bosses will have to study and approve so many research papers that they will be short on time to write their own papers. Getting named as co-author will be their consolation in return.

Re:Giving credit to the bosses (1)

bitingduck (810730) | about three weeks ago | (#47446589)

Probably every student will have the name of their professor on their paper. And almost every researcher will have the name of their manager or even the name of the director of their research institute on their paper. At least this is how it was while I was working at a research institute. The bosses will almost every time end up getting named as co-authors on every publication.

On the other hand, the bosses will have to study and approve so many research papers that they will be short on time to write their own papers. Getting named as co-author will be their consolation in return.

This may still happen, but I think it's gotten much rarer, and I've seen little or none of it. Most of the better journals frown heavily on it and some even require that you list who did what. For university research, the professor leading the project is usually last author. The student or post-doc who did all the work is first. Second (if not alphabetical) might go to someone who did a similar amount of work to #1, but didn't write the paper (or you might even see a footnote that "author 1 and author 2 contributed equally" for something that required two very different skill sets to cooperatively do). Institute directors and middle managers generally are known to be admin who don't get author credit.

Re:Giving credit to the bosses (1)

sdack (601542) | about three weeks ago | (#47446831)

I do not see it as a problem at all. I find it is rather a positive sign and one should focus less on the names on a paper, but more on the content of it. When the bosses are listed as co-authors then because there was a cooperation that benefited all. If bosses are being reduced to "admin" then this can be a sign of too little or no involvement into the research that is going on. So it is rather good to see it happening.

You get this kind of problem with many social networks. If this is a network of scientists where some people count only the sheer number of publications, or a teenage forum where trolls count "likes", "up votes" or their post count, makes little difference. It is a superficial attitude, where people refuse to look deeper.

It really is (or should be) a non-issue.

As a grad student, it is utterly depressing (3, Interesting)

Alopex (1973486) | about three weeks ago | (#47445417)

Knowing that you could be putting in 70-80 hours a week, and potentially stumble across some major discovery (imagine: cure a kind of cancer discovery). That discovery would be published by your boss, who, adding to his life's work, would cumulatively take most of the public credit for the work. Meanwhile, it doesn't matter if you had some amazing insight or designed the actual experiment to solve the problem.

Look at Nobel laureates and their age and their contributions. How many nameless people enabled them to win that award?

All you can hope for is that you publish a couple papers in top journals that will enable to you to get a solid job in industry, or jump onto the tenure track treadmill, so that one day you can be in a position of exploiting others' work and creativity, potentially in a field completely unrelated to your PhD.

The young have no power to change, and the old have no reason to give up their advantageous position.

Re:As a grad student, it is utterly depressing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445521)

Good thing then that the old retire & die, and the young get old then, right?

That old geezer has been successful enough at writing the grant aplications,, hobnobbing an developing his or her reputation, thus securing the $ that pays for the lab and equipment you're using, etc. Might as well bitch about the univerity or organization you're working at taking a commercial interest in any patentable/commercializable ideas you may come up with from "your" hard work and research too.
Waaahh.

Re:As a grad student, it is utterly depressing (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445669)

Wow, no sense of history there.

No, the senior guys today did not have it as hard as the junior ones do now. Not even close. Most of the senior researchers today got their jobs during the education boom in the 80s-90s, back when it was normal for every PhD to end up with a job in academia. Now it's more like 1 in 10, and that's after a longer PhD, several postdocs and more pressure during the tenure track.

The old geezers do almost nothing to help research. They eat up grant money, stick their names on everything and provide very little to the actual guys doing the work. I should know, I am one.

Re: As a grad student, it is utterly depressing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47446841)

Who gave you the idea to work on? Who gave you advice and guidance on approach to work an experiments? Who commented on your write up? If this is all worthless, why go to grad school? Or are you just trying to collect a certificate to get a job?

Um, here's a glaring fact (3, Insightful)

gwstuff (2067112) | about three weeks ago | (#47445505)

99% of review committees for conferences and editorial boards on journals are made up of that 1% of elite scientists. So the guys who decide which papers get published and which get crumpled and tossed into the bin are from the one who, by the way, do most of the publishing.

Having been in research for 15+ years, everyone knows that it's one big collusion of people promoting each other and excluding the rest. *Everyone* knows this. If a researcher pretends not to understand this or dismisses it then he's bullshitting you. Yes. It is depressing. Oh, and while I was actively publishing I was in the 1%...

Re:Um, here's a glaring fact (2)

c6gunner (950153) | about three weeks ago | (#47445645)

Having been in research for 15+ years, everyone knows that it's one big collusion of people promoting each other and excluding the rest. *Everyone* knows this. If a researcher pretends not to understand this or dismisses it then he's bullshitting you.

Totally. That's why that Einstein guy never got to publish. Goddamn Newtonians had it out for him, and I don't have to tell you the kind of grip they have on the community!

Yes. It is depressing. Oh, and while I was actively publishing I was in the 1%...

Oh, wow, me too! I mostly wrote about Heisenberg flux matrix compensators. Weren't you the guy who kept publishing about the time cube?

Re:Um, here's a glaring fact (2)

gwstuff (2067112) | about three weeks ago | (#47445859)

Totally... BS. You're using a counterexample that is a complete outlier in every way. It's like saying dropping out of college is a good thing, look at Bill Gates, Steve Jobs...

Academic publishing would be a much fairer process of reviews would be truly double blind, and if there were a severe penalty for breaking the rules. In the absence of that, people win Nobel prizes and will continue to do so. But that's because those people are outliers, not because the system is sane.

Re:Um, here's a glaring fact (1)

ttsai (135075) | about three weeks ago | (#47446675)

Academic publishing would be a much fairer process of reviews would be truly double blind, and if there were a severe penalty for breaking the rules. In the absence of that, people win Nobel prizes and will continue to do so. But that's because those people are outliers, not because the system is sane.

Outstanding papers for the most part will continue to be published. That's not the issue. The problem is that the overwhelming portion of submitted papers are not seminal papers, and it's these papers that are subjected to the defects in the review process, including the following:
(1) Not all reviewers are equally competent for their assigned papers.
(2) Not all reviewers are equally committed to spending the minimum amount of time needed for a thorough review. I have seen reviews submitted by well-known and regarded individuals that were obviously hastily written with a cursory reading of the submission.
(3) The assignment of papers to reviewers is mostly random. Explicit conflicts are filtered, but the assignment is mostly random, even if some sort of bidding process is used, as is done for some conferences.
(4) The number of reviewers is often minimal. For journals, often two reviewers are used. For conferences, 2-5 reviewers may be involved. However, that number includes the less competent and apathetic reviewers.
(5) Decisions are often swayed by a few very opinionated individuals. Especially on a PC, it is not at all rare to see political motivations determine the fate of a paper.

Double-blind reviews are idealistic but not practical. For many/most papers, it's almost trivial to figure out who the authors are based on the title, the subject material, and the references. Most authors will self-reference their own papers.

Re:Um, here's a glaring fact (1)

mvdwege (243851) | about three weeks ago | (#47446937)

Option 6: Submitted papers really aren't that good.

Especially in subjects with a lot of politicisation in the popular press, it is a common tactic for third-rate or worse researchers to go crying about the establishment suppressing their papers; a closer look often turns out that these papers are in fact very shoddy work.

Re:Um, here's a glaring fact (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47446081)

It might not always be as bad as you might think (and the way gwstuff put it does leave some open to the imagination). I do not get the feeling that I am being actively discriminated against because of my name (although, having peer reviewers that I've personally met and clicked with would of course help). What I have noticed though, is that scientists react very strongly to criticism of their work, and I've had people try to suppress my publications essentially on the basis that we showed previous work to be wrong (and set out to do so from the get-go). Fine, scientists are human. Sad, but understandable. I've still managed to eventually get these

What is more troubling, though, is the kind of self-promotion I see in science. I know for a fact that some people from my, rather small, field have been trying to lobby Nature and Science to publish more papers from this field. Some of the papers in the field are highly cited, yes, because well, and here's the problem, everyone keeps citing each other in circles regardless of the actual impact. Remember that the people who decide whether your work is good enough for a particular journal are your peers, so when they see people working in your field, citing your work in a positive or neutral light, of course they will be happy to let them. Then they go tell the Nature editors that they've now garnered a thousand citations to a paper in just a few years, which "clearly" shows that this type of work is something Nature, too, should consider to start publishing.

Re:Um, here's a glaring fact (1)

mpe (36238) | about three weeks ago | (#47446899)

Some of the papers in the field are highly cited, yes, because well, and here's the problem, everyone keeps citing each other in circles regardless of the actual impact.

Which can create a sort of positive feedback when it comes to citation. There will also be people who will take the amount of citations as being a measure of "quaility". Even when what they actually have is a "circular argument".
Then there's the issue of what happens if someone, especially an "outsider", discovers a problem with the original paper. With "lynch the kid (and deny the problem)" being the alternative ending to "The Emperor's New Clothes". (Possibly especially where there is no evidence of malicious action.)

Re:Um, here's a glaring fact (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47446131)

Goddamn Newtonians had it out for him, ...

Interesting that you should mention Newton. Depending who you believe, Robert Hooke wanted credit for Newton's work on gravitation. But then after Hooke died Newton became President of the Royal Society and got some revenge (on Hooke's reputation).

Re:Um, here's a glaring fact (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47447507)

Oh please. It's not *that* difficult to get published. The rejection rates for journals or for conferences aren't *that* high. And if you do get rejected from one, you submit the work to another. Sure, to get into certain journals or conferences might be almost impossibly difficult, but getting into Science or Nature (for example) isn't a prerequisite for doing good science or getting recognition for it. If your writing is good and the science is good, you'll get published. There is no "1%" elite that somehow controls the whole thing because the names are all right there in the editor list, and if you look them up regularly you'll see that a vast number of scientists roll through those supposedly exclusive positions all the time. The turnover is such that the people in control of those decisions are much larger than a "1%".

In my experience the people who are bitter about it are people who can't get published for other reasons.

Science Mag Org IS The Problem Amongst Others (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445601)

Over the last 30 some years Science Magazine, the journals of the American Meteorological Society and the journals of the American Geophysical Union have had their editorial processes corrupted and usurped by Cartels who disparately want to control the content of papers published for gain of money (including Federal grants) and prestige (including inclusion to the Editorial Boards where they can have the greatest of control to achieve their Ponzi schemes).

degrassi (2)

Xac (841406) | about three weeks ago | (#47445677)

Wasn't this the point of cosmos? to get more of these exploitable kids into the system?

students? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47445735)

(a) yes, sort of.

but

(b) have the researchers ever met a typical graduate student?

Parasite elite (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about three weeks ago | (#47445789)

Elite scientists? In that 1% group we will find heads of labs that sign the papers of any of their underlying. They also file patents and have stocks in statups. This kind of "elite" is the parasite kind.

Now I find no way to find in publication data who are the really exceptional scientists. We would have to look at paper quality to tell that.

My experience (4, Interesting)

felixrising (1135205) | about three weeks ago | (#47446101)

I (BSc) was assisting a PhD student on a project, a project the student was having difficulty with and became very demotivated. Although his supervisor was doing all he could to keep the research going (including bringing me onboard to help), eventually the PhD candidate pulled out. The end result, a paper has been published with my name and his supervisor's name on it, because we ended up finishing the study. So yeah, I can see how his supervisor having yet another paper with his name on it published might seem like the 1%, but reality is, the supervisor had the work ethic to finish off the study and have it published when the student did not.

I knew it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47446349)

This is why I consider "science" a scam and things like evolution, global warming and all that other horse shit to be false. I can see and understand the world with my own eyes. I don't need egg heads and leftist academics to tell me how the world works.

This resonates with me (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47446721)

I had a conversation about this with a guy at work 2 days before this article was posted. With the professor I had this was not the case, however some of the other professors at my school had this kind of attitude. Most professors\scientists write grants and spend most of their time doing that and the students do most of the work, as long as the students get credit on the paper for it and get paid (cash or stipend), it doesn't matter. If your a student and not getting paid, find something else to do. I have a problem with academics because it seems like its becoming more of a dog and pony show, when it should be doing research that benefits society Some of the scientists don't even review the paper and have their buddies slap there name on it, they get credit for something that they didn't do. People more and more these days want to get something and not do the work. Finance people want to get money regardless of the means or if their investing in actual companies. Scientists want to be recognized for work they didn't do. Even the guy at the local fast food joint wants better pay without getting a better education and\or a better job. Don't even get me started on politicians...

Not surprising, but even this study is flawed. (1)

Foske (144771) | about three weeks ago | (#47446815)

Most of these 'researchers' who get their names on every paper are actually the managers who don't have a clue about the actual research. Their name is only there because they force the real researchers to include it in the papers. Been there, done that, quit the job.

Side effect of grant structure (3, Interesting)

HuguesT (84078) | about three weeks ago | (#47447463)

Grant money is given preferably to teams that already publish a lot. Even "starting grants" in the EU require a single principal investigator (PI) with a lot of well-cited publication under their belt. This can only be achieved if the PI has done their initial research in a well-heeled lab, with a well-known head of the lab who is well-connected, and so on. This encourages a pyramidal structure with a lot of grunt students at the bottom, supervised by post-docs, supervised by assistant professors, and so on. Success encourages visibility, which encourages grants, which ensures money, which ensures good grunt students can be hired, and so on.

This is not the only possible successful structure, but one of the most common. A single researcher, however brilliant, cannot usually keep up with the outpouring of landmark papers the pyramidal structure can achieve. On the other hand, if everybody does their job, meritocracy in the pyramidal structure ensures that the best grunt students get promoted to post docs, and so on, usually in a different pyramidal structure.

The big drawback of the pyramidal structure is that the prof at the top usually doesn't know exactly what is going on at the bottom, even though they put their name on most of the papers that the structure produces.

Disclaimer: I'm a tenured prof. I do have a reasonable number of students, but I work with them directly. All my students are co-supervised with at least one other prof. Occasionally I do have a few post-docs but the structure is always collaborative. This is not the standard but this works well enough also as long as there isn't any ego-driven fights in the lab. This means choosing your collaborators well. I've made a few mistakes, but so far so good.

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