peer review

Last week, a funny and clever hoax was perpetrated against a social sciences journal. The hoaxers wrote an absurd paper on how the penis is merely a social construct. And for good measure, they claimed it made climate change worse. Somehow, the paper passed peer review, and the predictable result was widespread mockery of the social sciences -- and gender studies, in particular -- across the Internet.

Not everybody was amused. A couple of critics raised legitimate objections. One of them noted that Cogent Social...

NYU physicist Alan Sokal thought very little of the research performed by his colleagues in the social sciences. To prove his point, he wrote a paper that used plenty of trendy buzz words but made absolutely no sense. As he later explained, Dr. Sokal wanted to find out if a humanities journal would "publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors' ideological preconceptions."

It would. His paper, "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity," was published in the journal Social Text in 1996, and his hoax has earned him a place in scientific history.

Dr....

shutterstock_203211634 Credit: shutterstock

Scientists know better than to say that they believe the data. The reason is, as Neil deGrasse Tyson once said, "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."

How can he be so sure?

There is so much scientific sounding information out there, how can the pseudoscience be separated from the truth?

Here is an insider's look on how to know when data should be taken seriously and when they should be ignored.

Hint ... it's all about where you find it.

A bar graph that appears in a peer...

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 12.25.02 PMWe ve written before on scientific fraud and the problem of how easy it is to get papers with fake or manipulated data published. These studies that somehow make it through the publishing process can range from relatively harmless, such as the deliberately faked chocolate is good for weight loss study, or they can have major detrimental effects, like Andrew Wakefield s now-discredited...

Science-or Junk?A symposium was held a few weeks ago in the U.K., sponsored by several academic institutions, with the participation of journal editors, academics, business interests (pharmaceutical), among others. The topic was of utmost importance and interest: Symposium on the reproducibility and reliably of biomedical research. Nothing less!

The sponsors were (all based in the UK): The Academy of Medical Sciences, Medical Research Council, and Biotechnology and...

689576_76472644Perhaps spurred by last week s seismic announcement by Sage Publications that it was retracting 60(!) papers from one of their journals, Science 2.0 founder Hank Campbell wrote a scathing opinion piece on the decline of the peer review process, which appears in today s Wall...

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 2.23.04 PMWhen national debates, contesting social and public standards, come to a boil, research studies are frequently a neutral and trusted voice in settling a final verdict. However, the tools available to researchers can allow them to manipulate any and all parameters to dictate overall outcomes. The result of inaccurate and careless scientific studies is junk science, which is usually indistinguishable from legitimate scientific publications for the layman as well as for most journalists, warns Popular Mechanics science editor Sarah Fecht. These...