Median Watch

Eyes on statistics

What is the AIMOS conference?

A cover of Science from 2018 (available here) shows two giant scientists peering down on other scientists at work. It is a great image to describe metascience, also known as meta-research or the “science of science”. This is the growing field of scientifically studying science, with the aim of understanding why it sometimes fails and how we can make it better. At AIMOS (Association for Interdisciplinary Meta-Research and Open Science) we are the giant scientists peering down on our colleagues.

Lights, camera, authorship

As a teenager I watched a lot of films starring Paul Newman and Steve McQueen and loved them all. As an adult I was disappointed to learn they had petty fights about whose name appeared first in the posters. Two big egos fighting about prestige will be familiar to many in academia. Academia presents itself as an intellectual pursuit, but off-stage there are always squabbles about who deserves the biggest slice of the prestige pie.

Statically significant

A colleague sent me a draft manuscript with the typo “statically significant”. A typo that passes a spell check but would surely not pass reviewers and editors? Oh dear, a PubMed search reveals that it has snuck past reviewers and editors, many many times. There are 975 abstracts that have used this nonsense phrase. There should be a celebration for the 1000th paper! {width=80%,height=80%} Surely that’s only in the terrible journals though?

Scientific fraud is rising, and automated systems won’t stop it. We need research detectives

Reposted from The Conversation. Fraud in science is alarmingly common. Sometimes researchers lie about results and invent data to win funding and prestige. Other times, researchers might pay to stage and publish entirely bogus studies to win an undeserved pay rise – fuelling a “paper mill” industry worth an estimated €1 billion a year. Some of this rubbish can be easily spotted by peer reviewers, but the peer review system has become badly stretched by ever-rising paper numbers.

What to do when applying for research grants is a waste of time for almost everybody

Reposted with permission from Campus Morning Mail. Researchers have a dark sense of humour when it comes to research funding. One of my favourite sneers was from the ecologist Terry McGlynn who said, “instead of writing this grant, I should walk the whole country and get a penny from each person. Same amount of money, but less hassle.” Applicants to last year’s early- and mid-career Medical Research Future Fund fellowships may be wishing that they had gone on a long walk rather sitting at their computers, with speculated success rates at under 5 per cent.