?> December | 2009 | INFOMATTERS

Monthly Archives: December 2009

Health care confusion?

Having difficulty understanding the health care debate? Try this for some basic perspective. Truly, distance from the problem gives a clearer view.

Scientific peer review as it really is

Sent to me by a colleague, this is a true depiction of the process of peer review as experienced by many in the LIS community. One is tempted to name names but you can easily do that for yourself.

Of course the seriousness of peer review and the pitfalls in many implementations of it should not be underestimated. Some of the ‘reviews’ I have received over the years from so-called top journals would give any impartial observer pause. I don’t mean rejections, I mean one-liner acceptances, admitted reviewer ignorance of methods, and in one case, a paper came back with a line from a reviewer that said, basically, “I have no idea how these statistical tests work but the conclusions seem justifiable”. Is it any wonder there is public cynicism of science? Reviewing takes real effort though the process is largely thankless. The automated systems used by many publishers mean that as soon as you submit a review, you open yourself up to further requests for reviews, thereby creating the perfect disincentive to productivity. It’s become fashionable to question the value of double-blind peer review but one cannot divorce this discussion from a more systematic analysis of the whole process.

And as I write this, I received results of a survey from Elsevier of authors’ perceptions of what is important in submitting papers for review. Most important: speed of review. Next: quality of review. The trade-off continues.

Global Editorial: a united front in the world’s newspapers – but not here

Uniting in common cause for the Climate Conferences at Copenhagen, 56 newspapers around the globe for the first time published a common editorial on Dec 7th.

Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year’s inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world’s response has been feeble and half-hearted.

Interesting approach. Pity we did not see more of it in the US newspapers. I learned that only the Miami Herald would run with it, even though editors of other leading US papers offered private agreement with the text. Press freedom? Yeah right…..after all, those leaked emails show that scientists are just milking this stuff anyhow aren’t they?

What search tells us

If popularity of search terms is any guide, here’s all you need to know about people’s concerns as we enter another year of world conflict:

1. Michael Jackson
2. The Twighlight Saga
3. World Wrestling Entertainment
4. Megan Fox
5. Britney Spears
6. Naruto
7. American Idol
8. Kim Kardashian
9. Nascar
10. Runescape

All this according to Yahoo!. Speaks for itself really. Interestingly, Google’s Trends offers a slightly different picture of today’s specific interests. The results are not more inspiring:

1. tiger woods car crash photos
2. carlos dunlap
3. tiger woods girlfriend joanna
4. tiger woods mistress rachel uchitel
5. solange magnano pictures
6. oprah.com/12days
7. las cruces public schools
8. grady sizemore photos
9. reserveamerica
10. free christmas desktop wallpaper

Good to know all that research into IR and access is making us smarter.