The crisis in scientific communication

Margaret DeLacy's picture


The Scholarly Kitchen blog has posted a column by Roger C. Schonfeld entitled "Is Scientific Communication Fit for Purpose?"

Below are an excerpt and link:

One category of problems is scientific misconduct and fraud, which, it is important to note, is perpetuated by scientists themselves. This category includes scientists who use fraudulent data, inappropriately manipulate images, and otherwise fake experimental results. Publishers have been investing increasingly to block bad contributions at the point of submission through editorial review and more is almost certainly needed, likely a combination of automated and human review. Another form of misconduct is the failure to disclose conflicts of interest, which, notwithstanding efforts by publishers to strengthen disclosure guidelines, have continued to be disclosed “too little too late,”

Beyond individual misconduct, there are also organized and systematic challenges. We are seeing “organized fraud” and “industrialized cheating” to manipulate the scientific record to advance self-interests. These choreographed efforts include citation malpractice, paper mills, peer review rings, and guest editor frauds. And, even if it does not rise to the level of misconduct, we have seen the use of methods and practices that make substantial portions of at least some fields impossible to reproduce and therefore of dubious validityWhether individual, organized, or systematic, all these are threats to scientific integrity. 

Overall, it is clear that science is failing to police itself."