Saturday, 27 April 2013

New article on peer review in Nature Scientific Reports: "How important tasks are performed: peer review" by T. Hartonen and M.J. Alaya


The advancement of various fields of science depends on the actions of individual scientists via the peer review process. The referees' work patterns and stochastic nature of decision making both relate to the particular features of refereeing and to the universal aspects of human behavior. Here, we show that the time a referee takes to write a report on a scientific manuscript depends on the final verdict. The data is compared to a model, where the review takes place in an ongoing competition of completing an important composite task with a large number of concurrent ones - a Deadline -effect. In peer review human decision making and task completion combine both long-range predictability and stochastic variation due to a large degree of ever-changing external “friction”.

Friday, 26 April 2013

COST action on knowledge maps launched: KNOWeSCAPE

The following COST action has been launched today, on developing new maps (or ways of navigating knowledge).  It will be organising workshops, conferences, visits and funding costs of eligible participants to attend these.  In particular it will fund some of the costs of people attending the Lorentz Workshop on "Simulating the Social Processes of Science", to be held 7-11 April 2013.

Anyone from any COST countries can apply to this network project to be funded to attend such, or even run such an event. 

Their website is at:
The official COST page for this is:

This action is described as follows:

There is no escape from the expansion of information, so that structuring and locating meaningful knowledge becomes ever more difficult. This project will tackle this urgent problem using the unique networking and capacity-building features provided by the COST framework. For the first time, a platform will be created where information professionals, sociologists, physicists, digital humanities scholars and computer scientists collaborate on problems of data mining and data curation in collections. The main objective is advancing the analysis of large knowledge spaces and systems that organize and order them. The combination of insights from complexity theory and knowledge organization will improve our understanding of the collective, self-organized nature of human knowledge production and will support the development of new principles and methods of data representation, processing, and archiving. To this end, the knowledge organization in web-based information spaces such as Wikipedia as well as collections from libraries, archives, and museums will be studied. KnowEscape aims to create interactive knowledge maps. Their end users could be scientists working between disciplines and seeking mutual understanding; science policy makers designing funding frameworks; cultural heritage institutions aiming at better access to their collections; and students seeking a first orientation in academia.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Paper: Bollen et al. "Collective allocation of science funding: from funding agencies to scientific agency"

Collective allocation of science funding: from funding agencies to scientific agency

Public agencies like the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) award tens of billions of dollars in annual science funding. How can this money be distributed as efficiently as possible to best promote scientific innovation and productivity? The present system relies primarily on peer review of project proposals. In 2010 alone, NSF convened more than 15,000 scientists to review 55,542 proposals. Although considered the scientific gold standard, peer review requires significant overhead costs, and may be subject to biases, inconsistencies, and oversights. We investigate a class of funding models in which all participants receive an equal portion of yearly funding, but are then required to anonymously donate a fraction of their funding to peers. The funding thus flows from one participant to the next, each acting as if he or she were a funding agency themselves. Here we show through a simulation conducted over large-scale citation data (37M articles, 770M citations) that such a distributed system for science may yield funding patterns similar to existing NIH and NSF distributions, but may do so at much lower overhead while exhibiting a range of other desirable features. Self-correcting mechanisms in scientific peer evaluation can yield an efficient and fair distribution of funding. The proposed model can be applied in many situations in which top-down or bottom-up allocation of public resources is either impractical or undesirable, e.g. public investments, distribution chains, and shared resource management.
 Available at:

Paper: Martin et al "Coauthorship and citation in scientific publishing"

Coauthorship and citation in scientific publishing

A large number of published studies have examined the properties of either networks of citation among scientific papers or networks of coauthorship among scientists. Here, using an extensive data set covering more than a century of physics papers published in the Physical Review, we study a hybrid coauthorship/citation network that combines the two, which we analyze to gain insight into the correlations and interactions between authorship and citation. Among other things, we investigate the extent to which individuals tend to cite themselves or their collaborators more than others, the extent to which they cite themselves or their collaborators more quickly after publication, and the extent to which they tend to return the favor of a citation from another scientist.
Available at:

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Lorentz workshop on “Simulating the Social Processes of Science” 7-11 April 2014 Accepted!

The proposal for a  workshop on:
Simulating the Social Processes of Science”

has been approved by NIAS and the Lorentz Center. Congratulations! We have been able to schedule the workshop for the period 7 – 11 April 2014 at the venue Lorentz Center@Oort in Leiden in the Netherlands.

More information when it is available.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

New Paper: Opening the Black-Box of Peer Review: An Agent-Based Model of Scientist Behaviour

Squazzoni, Flaminio and Gandelli, Claudio (2013) 'Opening the Black-Box of Peer Review: An Agent-Based Model of Scientist Behaviour' Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 16 (2) 3 <>.


This paper investigates the impact of referee behaviour on the quality and efficiency of peer review. We focused on the importance of reciprocity motives in ensuring cooperation between all involved parties. We modelled peer review as a process based on knowledge asymmetries and subject to evaluation bias. We built various simulation scenarios in which we tested different interaction conditions and author and referee behaviour. We found that reciprocity cannot always have per se a positive effect on the quality of peer review, as it may tend to increase evaluation bias. It can have a positive effect only when reciprocity motives are inspired by disinterested standards of fairness
Peer Review, Referees, Referee Behaviour, Reciprocity, Fairness