Dispatches

The foreCite Index

Check out the foreCite Index, a new bibliometric indicator built from a rigorous framework of the statistics of citations.

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Scientific Utopias: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the h-index

tl;drThe h-index isn’t boiling a person down into a single number, we are. Also, people in power are the worst and will act as such even if they’re scientists

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The inevitably(?) of fraud academia

The boat only has the power that it does because we all believe that it shouldn’t be rocked. And that has to, and can, change immediately.

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The futility of scientific creativity

Newton and Leibniz developed calculus more or less simultaneously and independently. But would the world be any different if one or the other decided to become a blacksmith instead? Or was it simply that there was an intellectual foundation of the day that laid down an obvious path towards calculus, and we look back after the fact to come up with reasons to lionize the victors?

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Can a physicist fix a cell?

For those of you who haven’t read the article “Can a biologist fix a radio?” allow me to summarize: physicists and engineers are awesome, biologists are idiots.

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Biologists hate math and other citation database stories

The conclusions reached by a study published in a recent issue of PNAS may not be entirely trustworthy. Well, maybe I need to be more specific so as to narrow it down to just one study. The paper I’m referring to is "Heavy use of equations impedes communication among biologists" ...

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Rediscovery of knowledge: Pythagoras’ theorem, Stigler’s law and others

Pythagoras’ theorem is one of the most ancient, well known and studied mathematical theorems. It has a history longer than three thousand years as well as more than three hundred proofs. Although its first detailed description is in Euclid’s Elements, people often attribute its discovery to Pythagoras and named it ...

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Group IQ

Carolyn Johnson, of the Boston Globe, wrote a fascinating story on “What makes one team of people smarter than another? “ You can read the full story here.

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Accountability and the Research Enterprise

The Republican leadership has recently turned its attention to “wasteful” research sponsored by NSF (see YouCut for details.) In a youtube video, Representative Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) calls for Americans to search the NSF database and report “wasteful” grants and cites two projects as examples of such waste, a $750,000 grant ...

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NRC Rankings have arrived

(Revised Oct. 3, 2010) The long awaited for NRC rankings have arrived and, as expected, lots of controversy ensued. To avoid suspense, I will state up front that I am convinced that someone has finally gotten the rankings right. The notion espoused by the 1995 NRC rankings or the annual ...

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Being timely or the need to "convert" editors and reviewers

Steve Wiley discusses in “The Scientist” (Timing is Everything) the importance of timeliness in one’s research. One does not want to be behind the curve, but neither does one want to be too ahead of the curve. This raises the question of what to do if you are too ahead ...

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Expert evaluation vs. citation analysis

The recent Nature editorial “Experts still needed” (Nature, vol 457,pp. 7-8, 2009) made me smile with amusement. There is no question that there is still a significant lack of understandingof what bibliometric measures actually measure, and that the heavy,simple-minded, use of such metrics for evaluation of disciplines,nations, organizations, or scientists ...

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