Avalanches of data
This is old (june 2010) This is the Chronicle (they are on my shit-list after the Open Access hatchet job, but not enough for me to not link, it seems. Oh well, can’t hold a grudge). And I don’t agree with many points in there, but agree with some. Title says it – stopping the avalanche of low quality research.
Lots of good comments also.
But, it is something to consider. There is a strong push to publish, and, as has been documented, that seems to push people into scientific practices that one ought to avoid (among other things). Thus, there is a steady stream of research that may be less robust than wished, and the increase of retractions that Carl Zimmer discussed (linked earlier in the blog).
But, the fact that the majority of research never get cited is not necessarily evidence that the quality is low. Scientists are at the edge of knowledge. Nobody knows beforehand if the results are going to be groundbreaking or a footnote. It is like most new endeavors – most of it will end up nowhere. This is true in marketing and product launching also. As well as in evolution. There needs to be a lot of false starts and garden paths and failures to find the gems. (As in Harfords adapt – I think I’m repeating myself).
But, then again, could one do better than now? In a meeting we discussed the constant chatter of new research that one can’t pay attention to. Allow more time to increase the quality of the published?