Median Watch

Eyes on statistics

Checking BibTeX files against the Retraction Watch database

Last week I saw Alison Avenell give a great talk titled “Improving the integrity of published research: How, when, and if?’’ This was on her experience of finding fraudulent papers and what actions the journals took to correct the record – which was too often nothing. One of Alison’s recommendations was to avoid inadvertently citing retracted papers by checking against the wonderful Retraction Watch database. For those using reference management software such as Zotero this is already done for you.

Here’s why you should (almost) never use a pie chart for your data

Reproduced from The Conversation Our lives are becoming increasingly data driven. Our phones monitor our time and internet usage and online surveys discern our opinions and likes. These data harvests are used for telling us how well we’ve slept or what we might like to buy. Numbers are becoming more important for everyday life, yet people’s numerical skills are falling behind. For example, the percentage of Year 12 schoolchildren in Australia taking higher and intermediate mathematics has been declining for decades.

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?