Monday, 5 December 2016

If you are near Chicago... A Science of Science meeting, today!


More evidence for the class divide in UK universities

...from an article in the Guardian.
Researchers found that as much as half of the gap in admissions to highly selective Russell Group universities between children on free school meals (FSM) and their better-off peers could be a result of factors beyond academic ability.
From an analysis published by the Social Mobility Commission, headed by former Labour minister Alan Milburn.

See Guardian article at:

This is some more evidence that the role of the top universities is substantially about class and not just academic achievement. The top universities have simply not taken effective measures to address this lack of access.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Papers on Peer Review and other aspects of Simulating Science @ Social Simulation 2016, Rome

Five papers on simulating Peer Review!
Plus 2 other relevant papers:
(I do not know for how long the abstracts and full papers will be available, so go read them fast)

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Citation Cartels and Parocialism in Science

There is hard evidence that academics and journals are manipulating citations to (unfairly) improve their reputation. There is a summary of this and a call for more evidence in the post "What do we know about journal citation cartels? A call for information" at

However, these deliberately fraudulent cases are simply the extreme end of a spectrum of practices which need examination, understanding and (of course) simulation modelling. It is well known that many referees demand that papers cite certain papers (e.g. their own) as a condition of publication. It is well known that in some fields, there is a strong social norm that one should spend the first 2-5 slides of any presentation citing previous work (whether relevant or not). This demand that outsiders should learn the 'key' references before being allowed to present their research has advantages in terms of not repeating past debates/research and to aid the coherence of the field, but it is also an effective means of excluding outsiders and ensuring insiders are well cited.

There have now been a stream of simulations that touch on the processes of peer review, but a wider set of simulations and analysis of science are needed that focus upon the tendencies of fields to become inward-looking to the extent that some look more like cartels than academic discussions.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

A 1982 paper: " Peer-review practices of psychological journals: The fate of published articles"

I have just come across this.
Petersa, DP & Cecia, SJ (1982) Peer-review practices of psychological journals: The fate of published articles, submitted again. Behavioral and Brain Science, 5(2):187- 195.


A growing interest in and concern about the adequacy and fairness of modern peer-review practices in publication and funding are apparent across a wide range of scientific disciplines. Although questions about reliability, accountability, reviewer bias, and competence have been raised, there has been very little direct research on these variables.
The present investigation was an attempt to study the peer-review process directly, in the natural setting of actual journal referee evaluations of submitted manuscripts. As test materials we selected 12 already published research articles by investigators from prestigious and highly productive American psychology departments, one article from each of 12 highly regarded and widely read American psychology journals with high rejection rates (80%) and nonblind refereeing practices.
With fictitious names and institutions substituted for the original ones (e.g., Tri-Valley Center for Human Potential), the altered manuscripts were formally resubmitted to the journals that had originally refereed and published them 18 to 32 months earlier. Of the sample of 38 editors and reviewers, only three (8%) detected the resubmissions. This result allowed nine of the 12 articles to continue through the review process to receive an actual evaluation: eight of the nine were rejected. Sixteen of the 18 referees (89%) recommended against publication and the editors concurred. The grounds for rejection were in many cases described as “serious methodological flaws.” A number of possible interpretations of these data are reviewed and evaluated.
This is followed by an extensive and interesting open-commentary, making a very interesting issue, available at: