08 July 2010

How much research should get published?

Kent Anderson of The Scholarly Kitchen looks at how good a filter peer-review is.

The reputation authors garner by being published in a scholarly journal is that he or she has fit through the tight filter on scholarly communications, where only the best of the best gets published.

But that reputation is no longer deserved.

He gives some data showing that papers rejected by one journal appear to get published in some other venue. In doing so, he seems to be taking a position that the amount of research being published is a Bad Thing™. This attitude comes through again:

It’s worth noting that even the advocates who state that the majority of studies should be published also state that filters are vital to making such information usable.

This reminds me all too much of the claim that research is being ruined by bad research, which I talked about here recently.

I’m going to go out on a limb, and make what may be a radical proposition. I am going to suggest that:

Scientists are generally competent at their jobs.

If we admit that most scientists know how to do decent science, then it would seem to follow that most research should be published. I would argue that issues people have with the difficulty of keeping up with the literature is more likely to represent the professionalization of science that took place over the last century. Science was a growth industry, with more and more practitioners. The growth of the scientific-industrial complex has increased the amount of literature, not the loss of quality control, I would argue.

Any veterans out there want to chip in? Is it harder or easier to get published now than it used to be?

No comments: