Publication efficiency

From Bioblast

high-resolution terminology - matching measurements at high-resolution

Publication efficiency


Publication efficiency is the fraction Fr,a/p of reproducible publications Nr which are among the number Na of publications that receive attention and meaningful interpretation, per total count Np of all published communications. Publication efficiency Fr,a/p = Fr/pΒ·Fa/p is low due to (1) the reproducibility crisis expressed as low reproducibility efficiency Fr/p = Nr/Np, and (2) the inflation crisis expressed as low attention efficiency Fa/p = Na/Np. Estimates of these partial efficiencies vary from field to field. With Fr/p=0.15 and Fa/p=0.05, the current publication efficiency is as low as 0.0075, or only 0.75 % of all presently published communictions are reproducible and receive attention and meaningful interpretation. Reduction of the number of irreproducible zero-value publications is the most effective measure to reduce the paper mass excess (PME) in the reproducibility-inflation (R&I)-crisis. Several regulatory mechanisms for improvement are practically ignored although theoretically available.

Abbreviation: Fr,a/p

Reference: MitoFit 2020.4

Communicated by Gnaiger Erich (2020-07-14) last update 2021-01-02
in: Anastrophe XX Entity X and elementary unit x of A X-mass Carol

Canon IIIIII: To publish or buglish β€” a pathway to perish

Our "Age of Anxiety" is, in great part, the result of trying to do today's job with yesterday's tools β€” with yesterday's concepts. β€” Marshall McLuhan Herbert, Fiore Quentin (1967) The Medium is the Massage β€” Β»Bioblast linkΒ«.
Communication and value of science has been based on paper, from the papyrus of ancient Agypt to the transformations that enlarged the pressure to publish and were brought about by the printing press of Johannes Gutenberg. Metal typesetting used fonts of different sizes with a fixed metal mass of each sort of type in a typeface. Today the body mass index of a printed character is called the weight of a font, which is the thickness of the graphical outlines divided by the height of a character. Pressing a button on a photocopy machine produces or rather consumes a lot of papers in the age of the xerographic (dry graphic) technology. In the modern digital world of the internet and pdf files we are still using the 15th century vocabulary of the printing press when talking about a scientific paper that makes or breaks a scientific career in the service of impact factors, and we are still referring to the physical transport by courier services when spelling out pdf as portable data format. Scientists have to have the paper in press to make an impression on the scientific community. Even the term 'preprint' gives the impression, that printing is performed by application of mechanical pressure. The digital revolution has transformed the culture of scientific publication in physics and mathematics, but a fundamental liberation from a concept fixed on paper(s) is yet to be realized in the biomedical field (Gnaiger 2019 MitoFit Preprints Editorial).
Figure 6.1. Number of publications on mitochondria per year. Nobel price laureates are marked who are particularly relevant for mitochondrial physiology and bioenergetics, and the thermodynamics of irreversible processes. Data on publication counts retrieved from PubMed 2020-07-17.
Every scientific communication of value requires realization in the sense of the word that has more than two sides: (1) a physical realization of the communication as a publication (Figure 6.1) available in one or several media (e.g., video and pdf version of a publication), (2) a virtual realization of the publication as the cognitive process of decoding the potential meassage in the publication media into a realized message, received in the mental media of somebody who minds to comprehend the meaning of the message, and (3) back in an Ouroboros loop to a physical realization of the communication in the form of an innovation, as a new artefact with value in the real world β€” e.g., a new motivation procedure to increase the number of physically active people in the population; a new drug with less negative side effects; a new counting or measuring instrument that is more economical and produces less instrumental artefacts.
Every step in these three phases of realization of a scientific innovation is valuable, and is evaluated differently by individual people in their own way on their way to success. Collectively, however, only real-world artefacts or facts have value in the global fight against the crises of injustice in peace and war, global warming, irreversible loss of natural and cultural diversity, overpopulation of the sick and underpopulation of the healthy. Although these real-world artefacts resulting from the realization of scientific innovation may be positive as the goods of cultural tools or negative as the bads of war within the species and against other species and resources, scientific innovations realized as artefacts or facts are drivers of human cultural evolution. Therefore, a reflection on the realization potential and validation of a scientific communication has its value.
"No one knows how many scientific journals there are, but several estimates point to around 30,000, with close to two million articles published each year." β€” Altbach Philip G, de Wit Hans (2018) Too much academic research is being published. Univ World News retrieved 2020-07-14. β€” This makes close to 5500 publications per day. If you are working during the week and reading during the weekend, then there are more than 19000 new publications per weekend day.
Compared to browsing through publications in the (physical room of a) library, browsing through the internet and specifically PubMed has changed retrieval of literature fundamentally. Table 6.1 summarizes some examples relevant for the X-mass Carol.
Our official culture is striving to force the new media to do the work of the old. β€” Marshall McLuhan Herbert, Fiore Quentin (1967) The Medium is the Massage β€” Β»Bioblast linkΒ«.
Table 6.1. Publication overload: PubMed counts for publications in 2019 and 2009 on BMI and mitochondrial search terms individually (#1 and #2) and combined (#3). There was a 1.7- to 1.8-fold increase within 10 years in all three categories, indicating that growth in the more prominent research field BMI (mt/BMI=0.8) was as high as in the mt-research field. Only 0.43 % of all BMI-linked publications included the term mitochondria.
Search term # PubMed Search term Count 2019 Count 2009 Count per day 2019 Count per weekend day 2019
x x x/day x/weekend day
1 BMI or Body mass index 25310 13861 69 243
2 mitochondr* 19994 11583 55 192
3 1 and 2 108 62 0.3 1.0
We face a massive problem. The counts in Table 6.1 do not allow us to turn the pages to the list of references and re-read the messages in the cited publications. The probability of finding a (truly) groundbreaking innovation contained in a rejected or published paper is close to but not equal to zero. Therefore, only a high number of published papers realized by a readership of open minds can manage to increase the probability, that the 'true' innovation, which is not only rare but extremely difficult to comprehend, will be realized or implemented and applied in the real world. Highly simplified models of 'Meaningful-innovation-Publications' (MiP) provide guidelines for reflecting on and optimization of publication strategies.

Paradise lost β€” the static MiP model

Figure 6.2. New books per million inhabitants per year. Retrieved from 2020-07-21.
The printing press put an end to the era when books were rare (Figure 6.2), were reproduced as prayers and carols, when canonical repeats aided the reproducibility of the text in memory, and when the pictures in a book were a medium to translate the written word into a message for the illiterate. We live in a paradise of reproducibility of printed materials by simply copying digital files on electronic devices or papers on inexpensive copymachines. Nevertheless, Open Access in science is an unfulfilled dream in the scientific publishing business generating revenue of $25 billion USD with 1.5 million articles published/year (Triggle 2017 Drug Dev Res). Reproducing the publications for a wider and wider audience should increase the number of critical readers and the feedback to authors with suggestions for corrections of any published errors, thus potentially reducing the number of erroneous publications. However, the flood of publications expelled science from the never-existing paradise of scientific reproducibility. The static MiP model analyzes the combined effects of the inflation crisis and reproducibility crisis on publication efficiency with an illusionary view to the paradise of reproducibility.
  1. The number of papers published within a unit of time (year, day, weekend day) is Np. The time span and type of publication p have to be specified.
  2. The number of irreproducible publications Nz of zero positive value is high, with an irreproducibility ratio Fz/p = Nz/Np β‰ˆ 0.85 in the biomedical field (Begley, Ioannidis 2015; Ioannidis et al 2014). Even when eliminating theoretical and experimental publications, the irreproducible fraction was 0.74 in computational publications published in the journal Science (2011-2012; Stodden 2020 Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A). The criteria for irreproducibility vary from experimental to statistical deficiencies, missing methodological detail, to unavailability of raw data and computer code.
  3. The number of valuable, reproducible publications Nr can be split into innovative Ni and confirmative publications Nc. Bayesian statistics provides a solid proof of concept, that it is irresponsible scientific commercialism, if confirmative publications are suppressed in high-profile journals. Journals should be labelled as 'low-profile', if the reproducibility of their published articles is less than 50 %. The immense value of methodologically sound confirmative communications requires full appreciation, as does the importance of reproducibly contradictory results. It is difficult but important to define the drivers of scientific commercialism among authors, editors, and businesses, and to distinguish re-search oriented publishing of scientific literature from commerce oriented buglishing in low- or high-impact journals which are predatory to the same extent. The underrating of methodologically and statistically rigorous confirmative and contradictory results promotes escape strategies of presenting conformative results, which please the commercialism of publication by mainstream-delusion. These considerations justify an emphasis on reproducible publications Nr β€” including publications providing the test of reproducibility of published innovative results β€” and a simple discrimination between reproducible and zero-value publications, Np = Nr+Nz. The reproducibility efficiency is Fr/p = Nr/Np.
  4. The reproducibility crisis expressed by the low reproducibility efficiency Fr/p has to be put into the context of a hyper-exponential inflation crisis of publication. The count Np of all publications is split into a count of publications Na that receive attention and meaningful interpretation, and a count of publications Nn that is neglected, Np = Na+Nn. If Np exceeds Na, then there is an inflation crisis of producing a paper mass excess (PME), as a process which diminishes the value of each elementary paper Up. The inflation crisis is expressed by the low attention efficiency Fa/p = Na/Np. The concepts of PME and BME are not isomorphic.
The introductory analysis of the reproducibility and inflation crisis (R&I-crisis) of scientific publications is summarized in the following definitions and equations, all of which are oversimplified symbols of reality.
(Eq. 6.1a) Publication count R-crisis: Np = Nr + Nz
(Eq. 6.1b) Reproducible publication count: Nr = Np - Nz
(Eq. 6.2a) Publication count I-crisis: Np = Na + Nn
(Eq. 6.2b) Attention publication count: Na = Np - Nn
(Eq. 6.3a) Reproducibility efficiency: Fr/p = Nr / Np
(Eq. 6.3b) Reproducibility in R-crisis: Nr = Fr/p Β· Np
(Eq. 6.4a) Attention efficiency: Fa/p = Na / Np
(Eq. 6.4b) Attention in I-crisis: Na = Fa/p Β· Np
Figure 6.3. Decline of publication efficiency as a function of increasing irreproducible publications Nz* (left to right). Counts NX* and efficiencies or fractions F* with the asterisc show the results of various levels of improvement from the baseline state with Nz of irreproducible publications and intermediary states with Nz* decreasing to the standard state with NzΒ° = 0 x (right to left). Np is the total count of published communications at the current baseline. The reproducibility efficiency is Fr/p=0.15 at the current baseline (red arrow). As the number of irreproducible publications Nz* declines while the number of reproducible publications remains constant at Nr*=Nr, the total number of publications Np* declines linearly with decreasing Nz* to a minimum fraction Np*/Np=Fr/p (dotted arrow). The reproducibility efficiency Fr/p* increases as a hyperbolic function of the declining Nz*. Nz*/Nr* can be understood as the relative inhibitor concentration with a hyperbolic (Michaelis-Menten kinetic) inhibitory effect on the reproducibility efficiency Fr,p*=Nr*/Np* (Eq. 6.9). The attention efficiency Fa/p* increases as a hyperbolic function of the reduction of Nz* to a maximum Fa/pΒ° = Na/Nr = 0.33, due to the steady decline of the total count of published communications Np* as Nz* declines to zero x. The target of optimization is the count Nr,a* or the normalized count Fr,a/p* = Nr,a*/Np, which contains the quadratic term (Nz/p/Np)2. Fr,a/p* demonstrates the primary importance of cutting down the number or irreproducible publications, which are identified as an inhibitory scientific output and as such not of zero value, but of negative value.
Publications are a currency. Publication metrics is concerned with putting a numerical value on the currency. At a time of currency devaluation, strategies are required to bring the progressive inflation to a halt, whereas the contrary is achieved by elaborating journal impact factors or h-indices which forge a scientific career into a number and into an addiction and craving to increase the number of publications. Even increasing the number Nr of potentially reproducible publications is a lost investment if they get burried under the avalanche of the sheer number of new publications. Advertising for more attention, in turn, is meaningless at a low reproducibility efficiency. Ioannidis et al 2014 suggest that the fraction of irreproducible results published may be as high as 85 %. The corresponding fraction or efficiency Fr/p β‰ˆ 0.15 is even an optimistic estimate in some areas of research. Publication counts such as those in Table 6.1 lead to estimates of an attention efficiency far below the reproducibility efficiency, and a value of 5 % is just taken as an example (Fa/p = 0.05). The R- and I-crises are not only the two sides of the publication coin, but they have a multiplication effect on the diminishing reproducibility-attention efficiency Fr,a and correspondingly low number Nr,a of reproducible publications which actually receive attention and meaningful interpretation. From Eq. 6.4, Nr,a is calculated as:
(Eq. 6.5) Nr,a = Fa/p Β· Nr
Substiting Eq. 6.3b for Nr,
(Eq. 6.6) Nr,a = Fr/pΒ·Fa/pΒ·Np = Fr/p Β· Na
shows that Nr,a is diminished by the product Fr/pΒ·Fa/p. This product is the reproducibility-attention efficiency Fr,a,
(Eq. 6.7) Fr,a = Fr/pΒ·Fa/p
Fr,a equals 0.0075 or 0.75 % of the total publication count when inserting the estimates given above β€” an enormous inefficiency.
Rearranging Eq. 6.6 and inserting Eq. 6.1a for Np yields:
(Eq. 6.8) Nr,a = Fr/p Β· [Fa/pΒ·(Nr+Nz)] 
Eq. 6.8 illustrates that a simple mathematical equation can be as ambiguous as simple words when interpreted without attention to context. It looks paradoxical at first sight, as if an increase of zero-value publications Nz could exert a positive effect on the desirable number Nr,a of reproducible publications that receive attention. The mathematical medium 'equation' gives a meaningless message, if not interpreted properly by recognition of recursive elements, as shown in Figure 6.3. Nr,a is strongly controlled by reproducibility efficiency Fr/p. Therefore, cutting down the count Nz of irreproducible zero-value publications is the top priority.
Consider the paradise of reproducibility when NzΒ° = 0 x. Then β€” at a heavenly reproducibility efficiency of one β€” the publication efficiency is Fa/pΒ° = Fa/p/Fr/p = 0.05/0.15, increasing from 0.0075 to 0.33 or 44 times. How do we get from heaven to hell of irreproducibility? Figure 6.3 shows the trajectories of efficiencies declining with an increase of irresproducible zero-value publications Nz. The variable shown with an asterisc (*) are the trajectories between the standard state at Fr/pΒ°=1 and the current state assuming Fr/p=0.15. The following parameters are fixed in the static model: (1) the number Nr* of reproducible publications is constant at 0.15 times the current total publication count Np, Nr*/Np=0.15; and (2) the number Na* of publications receiving attention is constant at 0.05 times the current total publication count Np, Na*/Np=0.05. Even at a fraction NpΒ°/Np = Fr/p (Figure 6.3, dotted arrow), the attention capacity is insufficient, although 33 % instead of 0.75 % of the reproducible publications NpΒ°=NrΒ° receive attention.
1. The reproducibility efficiency declines as a hyperbolic function of Nz*/Np, where Fr/p=0.15 is the constant parameter:
(Eq. 6.9) Fr/p* = 0.15 / (0.15 + Nz*/Np)
This can be expressed in the form of a familiar hyperbolic inhibition equation,
(Eq. 6.10) Fr/p* = Fr/p(max)* / (Fr/p(max)* + Nz*/Nr*)
where Fr/p(max)*=1 (maximum reproducibility efficiency Fr/p(max)Β°), and the inhibition constant is Ki(50)=1, which means that Fr/p*=0.5 at Nz*/Nr*=Ki(50)=1, or at Nz*/Np=Fr/p (Figure 6.3, dashed arrow). Thus Nz*/Nr* is an effective inhibitor concentration causing a steep decline of publication efficiency.
2. The attention efficiency declines as a hyperbolic function of Nz*/Np, where Fa/p=0.05 and Fr/p=0.15 are the constant parameters:
(Eq. 6.11) Fa/p* = 0.05 / (0.15 + Nz*/Np)
The maximum value of Fa/p* equals Fa/p/Fr/p=0.05/0.15=0.33.
3. The reproducibility-attention efficiency is the target of optimization. Fr,a/p* declines as a quadratic hyperbolic function of Nz*/Np, where Fa/pΒ·Fr/p=0.05Β·0.15=0.0075 and Fr/p=0.15 are the constant parameters:
(Eq. 6.12) Fr,a/p* = (0.05Β·0.15) / (0.15 + Nz*/Np)2
The maximum value of Fr,a/p* equals Fa/p/Fr/p=0.05/0.15=0.33. Increased efficiency is certainly a target at a time of limited resources and publication overload. Preventing irreproducible results from being published (Figure 6.3, from right to left) cuts down this publication excess. In the static MiP model, the count Np* of total publications declines steeply by gradual elimination of irreproducible publications, as shown by the straight line of Np*/Np (Np is a constant parameter). In the face of this drastic reduction of the publication count Np*, the question arises as to how the desired output Nr,a of reproducible publications that receive attention can be maintained or even increased. In Eq. 6.6 the product Fa/pΒ·Np equals Na (Eq. 6.4b). As long as Na* remains lower than Np*, the count of publications receiving attention is a constant (Na* = 0.05Β·NP), since the declining Np* is compensated by a corresponding increase of Fa/p*. This prevails over the entire range in which the capacity for attention to the literature is the limiting factor and publication overflow remains effective even in the theoretical standard state of NzΒ° = 0 x. The cut of publication count provides scope for an increasing count Nr,a of reproducible publications which receive attention. Thus Nr,a* increases linearly with reproducibility efficiency Fr/p in the regress to reproducibility paradise (Eq. 6.6).
A major limitation is the difficulty to define and quantify the effective Na. Whereas counts Np are available for specific areas of research (Table 6.1 and Figure 6.1), a numerical value of Na is almost impossible to assess, although its significance is reflected in the numerical model. The meaning of the attention count Na can be circumscribed easier by saying, what it is not than what it is. Looking at the title, list of authors, acknowledgements, and abstract is not attention. Therefore, citation is not even a proper measure of attention, although it goes a far way to indicate attention. Listening to a scientific talk that covers the contents of the publication is not sufficient attention, but may be a first step in this direction. Copying some figures for inclusion in a seminar presentation or textbook is not sufficient attention. And which fraction of scientists would have to pay proper attention for counting the publication as a member in the set of Na? A vague definition of the countable elementary entity Ua carries over to a fuzzy result of the count Na = NΒ·Ua. Numbers and even counts keep our theoretical mind sufficiently busy (in the sense of Kahneman's 'System 2'), such that it is quite easy to accept or overlook the fuzziness. But when it comes to Euclid's unit of the single individual thing β€” the elementary Ua β€” it is easier for our practical mind to take control and make us uncomfortable with the hazy perception of the elementary entity 'single individual attended publication'. It is important to realize the fuzziness of the elementaries, to point out the limitations and heuristic benefits of the numerical model.

Reflections on paradise lost

The number of publishing scientists has grown over the years, with over 15 million scientists publishing β‰₯1 article that was indexed in Scopus in the period 1996–2011. Biomedical research is the most prolific scientific field in this regard. It is practically impossible for even the most knowledgeable expert to maintain direct knowledge of the work done by so many other scientists, even when it comes to his/her core discipline of interest. β€” Begley and Ioannidis (2015)
As of 2020, Open Access should not be an issue, but persistent failure is due to the submissions of manuscripts by the scientists 'sponsoring' with public funding the private for-profit journals, by the libraries 'sponsoring' with public funding the for-profit journals, and by the academic system supported by public funding exerting enormous pressures on scientists to support the for-profit journals as authors and reviewers. The academic system not only supports but is the driver of for-profit journalism by accounting publications in 'high-profile' journals irrespective of their irreproducibility. Every scientist knows about this conundrum. Every early or not-so-early career investigator is trapped in this conundrum. Most scientists have the privilege of having been trained in institutions heavily supported by public funding. This puts scientist into a responsibility to reflect on the knowlegde received in the training, and to act responsibly. The soldier received training for action in combat and for not asking questions. Academic training is on asking questions. But when it comes to publishing, academics are trained to publish without asking questions β€” soldiers in the army of for-profit journals. And since some scientists are clever in business, they run scientific societies with for-profit journals, which mindlessly compete with the private for-profit journals: to support the scientists in their career based on publication counts, and hounour publication counts in competition for the journal's success.
Publication pressure on scientists puts authors with a perspective on their careers into the conflict of setting priorities between their own judgement and the necessity of pleasing reviewers and editors. "The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest" is pure Humbug in most cases, except if these authors declare, that there are no careers and grant applications of interest. The scientific community and the public would save time and money and natural resources, if scientists would take action in their social responsibility of reducing publication pollution and act against the melt-down of the overheated publication climate. Climate change requires political action based on the conviction of a democratic majority. Career-scientists, however, are under publication pressure and have no time for democratic lobbying.
The static MiP model illustrates the extent of 'paradise lost', but does not provide realistic guidelines for the future. There are countless extensions of the static MiP model. The dynamic MiP model is presented as a very simple example without claim to represent or reproduce the real world. Publication hell is the black hole where all communications are irreproducible, irrespective of irreproducible results or failure of all copying devices to reproduce a published paper for dissemination. The dynamic MiP model does not lead out of a black hole, but starts at the actual pit of publication efficiencies described by the static model. The dynamic MiP model incorporates interventions addressing the reproducibility-inflation or R&I-crisis. The single R- or I-strategy will not work, as illustrated in the static model (Figure 6.3).

Out of hell β€” a dynamic MiP model

Figure 6.4. Dynamic strategies to increase publication efficiency as a function of decreasing irreproducible publications Nz* (right to left). Counts NX* and efficiencies or fractions F* with the asterisc show the results of various levels of improvement from the baseline state with Nz of irreproducible publications and intermediary states with Nz* decreasing to the standard state with NzΒ° = 0 x. Np is the total count of published communications at the current baseline. The reproducibility efficiency is Fr/p=0.15 at the current baseline (red arrow). As the number of irreproducible publications Nz* declines, the number of reproducible publications increases at half the rate of the decline of Nz*. The total number of publications Np* declines less steeply than in the static model, whereas the reproducibility efficiency Fr/p* increases steeply in the early phase of the reduction of Nz*, transforming every two inhibitory Nz* into one constructive Nr*. The attention efficiency Fa/p* increases as steeply as Fr,p*, since more confirmative Nr* can be counted, which receive increasing attention and are quickly understood. Compared to the static model, the success of increased publication efficiency Fr,a/p* is immediately realized as Nz* are substituted at 50 % by Nr*, thus enforcing the motivation to get out of the R&I-crisis by fighting even more effectively against Nz*. At Nz*/Np of 0.15, the target of optimization Fr,a/p* increases from 0.05 to 0.08 in the static model, but to 0.47 in the dynamic model, which is a 5.7-fold higher improvement due to positive feedback.
Paradise lost is not new. Yet most publication metrics re-inforce the established for-profit journalism without provision of guidelines out of the publication efficiency pit caused by the R&I-crisis. The dynamic MiP model illustrates a pattern based on two absolutely necessary yet insufficient traits: (1) The fraction of zero-value publications must be decreased by removing irreproducible results from the publication record. It is not sufficient, however, to merely prevent irreproducible results from being published, but a large fraction (50 %) of the decline is driven by converting bug-papers into valuable reproducible reports. Thus the total publication count declines less steeply compared to the static model. (2) This qualitative boost enables the attention efficiency Fa/p* to increase as steeply as Fr/p*, since the reproducible reports can be more easily understood in a shorter time, and the motivation to pay attention to publications increases with the quality of the total publication count. Which measures are at hand to implement the dynamic model in a progression out of the R&I-crisis?
Can the scientific community lead scientists out of the R&I-Pithole? This is like asking poachers to control poaching, smugglers to patrol the borders, tricksters to manage casinos, drug-dealers to oversee the Olympic games, the mafia to run the court, the politician to check the voting. Where it happens, these honorable jobs are enforced in the interests of the insiders, protecting the established rules and rulers against critical outsiders. Critical insiders are brandmarked as lurking deserters or lurking loosers. Who can escort the scientific community on the pathway to climate change with better quality control and push breaks on buglishing at exponential growth rates?
The devil is in the details. Scientists, who do not believe in God, say "God created the professor, the devil created the colleague". Can the colleague perform as a fair judge of reproducible or irreproducible results? Who in turn controls the colleauge controlling the professor? Do editors act in the general interest of science or the specific interest of their journals? Who reviews the reviewers?

The guild of science

The Syndics of the Drapers' Guild by Rembrandt, 1662.
Nature, knowledge about nature, and the laws of nature are a matter of public concern, which does not reside only in the hands of scientists. This is comparable to the law of democratic societies, which is in the interest of the public and does not reside merely in the hands of the lawyers. Laws of nature do not care about democratic decisions. But the conduct of scientists in science β€” like the conduct of travellers in traffic and the performance of athletes in sports β€” has to follow rules and laws, which minimize deadly and costly accidents and unfair play β€” virtually (if not completely) without control or restriction of the targeted direction. Work in science has its justification in the scientific method, by the systematically refined procedures of scientific investigation, improved scientific analysis, open doubt about apparently established results of research, in recursive canonical re-investigation. Granting agencies and universities which are largely run by scientists, however, see the justification of science predominantly in the numbers of scientific publications, pushing aside fundamental worries about exponential growth β€” it is just numbers. Scientists alarm the public about the exponential spread of a virus, the fast rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere, the bane of the exponential economy boom, the rocketing global incidence of obesity, the world's population of humans growing out of control (not counting the scientists). The same scientists are content with the exponential explosion of the numbers of their publications. That is the short story on 'Down the drain into the R&I-Pithole'.
Modern science remains deeply stuck in the medieval tradition of guilds as self-governing associations, with the licence to teach and promote, and to judge (the quality of scientific publications). Guilds of traders and artisans evolved and are now under federal law. Substitution of the statutes of the guild of merchants by today's national and international laws is not perceived as an infliction on the freedom of modern trade, except if we are pushed back into medieval nationalism by populist and totalitarian polititians. In contrast, the concept of a university conducting science under federal law is associated with totalitarian regimes that restrict the freedom of science. The freedom of science is like a dance around the golden calf, the holy grail of the knights of truth. All modern laws require execution by independent experts, and if two parties A and B call on the court for help in resolving a conflict, nobody (except for B) wants the judge to be a close ally of B. Peer review follows the conduct of a medieval guild. It is well appreciated within science, that the peer review system does not work well, as amply demonstrated by the low reproducibility efficiency of 15 %. Churchill is frequently quoted when commenting on this dramatic failure of peer review: 'We know it's bad, but we don't know any better'.
It is the guilt of science and the omission of governments to fail in implementing laws and courts against exponential growth and Humbug in the public news β€” from fake news in the social media to irreproducibility in the scientific literature. The pathway into the R&I-Pit is comparable to a traffic system that invests enormous amounts of money into larger highways and no cent into traffic control, to divert all remaining resources into fuelling faster and faster vehicles. In case of increasing accidents, let the guild of travellers fight among themselves and don't waste money in the support of a (friendly and helpful) police. This is the occupational guild of science, preventing any Governmental R&I-Patrol and Reproducibility Police raiding our universities. Science breaks the speed limits of publishing without any radar control by the Buglishing Department.
Some decades ago several European universities operated quite independent of governmental employment laws, deposed of radioactive and chemical waste quite independently of environmental regulations, and up-to-date many academic institutions world-wide are run with little concern on energy saving. Little progress has been made on the basis of self-governing regulations on the part of the guild of science, but significant changes were brought about by governmental actions. There is still much room for improvement, and high investments are required into the scientific infrastructure to reduce fossile fuel consumption by more efficient technologies run by recyclable energy. Similarly, high investments are required and justified into the governance of the R&I-crisis. The fight against information pollution cannot be left in the hands of the guild of science.
Workin progress


There is no theoretical proof of the theorem, that rejected papers contain more or less innovative, reproducible, and valuable statements compared to published papers. Only published papers are publications that can be evaluated by the public. If a rejected manuscript contains (perhaps) too much innovation and is, therefore, rejected and does not make it to a publication, the public cannot evaluate the non-publication. The reviewers rejecting the manuscript are a small sample of all potential experts, who are prevented from seeing and judging the rejected manuscript. The Open Access preprint communication is the perfect tool available already for several decades, for sharing scientific information independent of anonymous peer-review, and instead aimed at Open Access community-peer review.
Β» A vision on preprints for mitochondrial physiology and bioenergetics.

The living publication

Β» Living Communications



Bioblast linkReferenceYear
Begley CG, Ioannidis JPA (2015) Reproducibility in science: improving the standard for basic and preclinical research. Circ Res 116:116-26.
Chiolero A, Tancredi S, Ioannidis JPA (2023) Slow data public health. Eur J Epidemiol 38:1219-25.
Chiu K, Grundy Q, Bero L (2017) `Spin' in published biomedical literature: A methodological systematic review. PLoS Biology 15(9): e2002173.2017
Gall T, Ioannidis JPA, Maniadis Z (2017) The credibility crisis in research: Can economics tools help? PLoS Biol 15:e2001846.
Gnaiger E (2019) Editorial: A vision on preprints for mitochondrial physiology and bioenergetics.
Gnaiger E et al ― MitoEAGLE Task Group (2020) Mitochondrial physiology. Bioenerg Commun 2020.1.
Ioannidis JPA (2005) Why most published research findings are false. PLoS Med 2:e124.
Ioannidis JPA, Greenland S, Hlatky MA, Khoury MJ, Macleod MR, Moher D, Schulz KF, Tibshirani R (2014) Increasing value and reducing waste in research design, conduct, and analysis.
Kahneman D (2011) Thinking, fast and slow. Penguin Books:499 pp.2011
Stodden Victoria, Seiler Jennifer, Ma Zhaokun (2020) An empirical analysis of journal policy effectiveness for computational reproducibility. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115:2584-9.2020
Triggle Chris R, Triggle David J (2017) From Gutenberg to Open Science: an unfulfilled odyssey. Drug Dev Res 78:3-23.2017

MitoPedia topics: BEC 

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.