Tag Archives: journals

Wire arc additive manufacturing applied to cosmetic dentistry?

photograph of a flower for decorative purposes onlyLast weekend I sat down at my laptop to write this week’s post with only a vague idea of a topic. When I opened my laptop I was surprised to see two emails from a supposedly reputable commercial publisher inviting me to be a guest editor for two special issues of two different journals.  For two decades, I served as editor-in-chief of two international journals consecutively with only a short overlap so I am well-qualified to act as a guest editor.  However, the invitations related to cosmetic dentistry and wire arc additive manufacturing.  I know almost nothing about these two subjects so why was I receiving invitations from the editors of two journals to be a guest editor.  In collaboration with colleagues, I have published some papers recently on another form of additive manufacturing [see ‘If you don’t succeed try and try again‘ on September 29th 2021].  My Google Scholar profile shows that my two most highly cited papers relate to work performed thirty years ago on osseointegrated dental implants [see ‘Turning the screw in dentistry‘ on September 30th, 2020]; although on closer examination it would also reveal that I have published nothing since then on this subject.  I suspect that a poorly programmed algorithm was fooled by my eclectic and long publication record into issuing poorly targeted invitations rather than the academic editors exercising poor judgment.  At least, I hope that is what happened since the alternative is that journal editors are no longer exercising academic judgment (though it is obvious this is also happening given the incoherent reviews of manuscripts that editors too frequently pass on to authors probably without reading them).  I will treat these invitations as spam; however, others may see them as opportunities to create or expand ‘peer-review’ rings and put more ‘Rotten eggs in the store‘ [see post on November 30th, 2022].  The peer-review and publication system for scientific papers is clearly broken and one part of the solution is to remove commercial interests from the process.

Rotten eggs in the store

Photograph of boiled egg for decorative purposesDo you feel like a battery hen? I ask the question because I know many of the readers of this blog are academics and in her 1995 introduction to the revised edition of her book ‘Beast and Man‘, the philosopher Mary Midgley describes the current approach to the writing and publication of academic papers as a battery-egg system in which the number of publications produced by an academic are simply counted when assessing promotion cases and grant proposals. She suggests that ‘this arrangement encourages industrious mediocrity’ such that even gifted and original researchers are forced to choose small topics for research in order to maintain their publication rate [see ‘Reasons for publishing scientific papers‘ on April 21st, 2021]. Reputable journals are supposed to be the guardians of quality through their peer-review systems; however, it matters little because the volume of papers published is so huge (more than 2 million per year) that most will never be read – no one has the time [see ‘We are drowning information while starving for wisdom‘ on January 20th, 2021]. So, Midgley predicts that journals will become ‘merely reputable cold-stores for eggs that everybody knows will never be eaten’. Unfortunately, many of the eggs are rotten because peer review systems are being undermined by disreputable authors, reviewers and editors operating ‘peer-review rings’ which have led to the retraction of hundreds of paper by publishers, including 511 papers by Hindawi & Wiley in August 2022 and 463 papers by IOP publishing in September 2022. So, if you do find time to read some journal papers, be careful what you believe because the work might be fraudulent.

Mary Midgley, Beast and Man – the roots of human nature. Abingdon, Oxon. Routledge Classics, 2002.

Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Soft-boiled-egg.jpg

Tsundoku

I used to suffer from tsundoku but now I am almost cured…  Tsundoku is a Japanese word meaning ‘the constant act of buying books but never reading them’.  I still find it hard to walk into a good bookshop and leave without buying a small pile of books.  I did it early this month in the Camden Lock Books and left with ‘The New Leaders‘ by Daniel Goleman, ‘What we talk about when we talk about love‘ by Raymond Carver and ‘The Fires of Autumn‘ by Irène Némirowsky.  I will probably read all of these three books over the coming months so it was not really an act of tsundoku.  But, it’s perhaps only because there are so few really good bookshops left that I don’t  buy more in a year than I can read.  Although this is not quite true in my professional life, because I have started buying books on-line and the pile of unread books in my office is growing; so I am not completely cured of tsundoku.  Actually, all researchers are probably suffering from it because we collect piles of research papers that we never read – in part because we can’t keep up with the 2.5 million papers published every year.  And, it’s growing by about 5% per annum, according to Sarah Boon; perhaps, because there are more than 28,000 scholarly journals publishing peer-reviewed research.  Of course, that’s what happens if you measure research productivity in terms of papers published – it’s a form of Goodhart’s law [see my post entitled ‘Goodhart’s Law‘ on August 6th, 2014].