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This time, the Times may be a little off

When I saw this month?s linkurl:cover story;http://www.the-scientist.com/2006/2/1/26/1/ earned a mention in Monday?s New York Times article called "Reporters find science journals harder to trust, but not easy to verify," my eyes lingered over both the headline of the story and the writer?s take on our article? namely, that the rocketing rate of submissions to top-tier journals was "weakening the screening process." On the one hand, I see her point. While journals appear to

By | February 14, 2006

When I saw this month?s linkurl:cover story;http://www.the-scientist.com/2006/2/1/26/1/ earned a mention in Monday?s New York Times article called "Reporters find science journals harder to trust, but not easy to verify," my eyes lingered over both the headline of the story and the writer?s take on our article? namely, that the rocketing rate of submissions to top-tier journals was "weakening the screening process." On the one hand, I see her point. While journals appear to be trying to hire editors to stay apace of submissions, it?s easy to see how the situation could easily spin out of control. But I have yet to see data showing that cases of fraud increase with the number of submissions. And it?s hard to believe that, with more time to review, editors would have spotted Woo-Suk Hwang?s monumental subterfuges. Sure, peer review has its flaws; sometimes papers are likely published that shouldn?t be, and vice versa. But I?ve worked on a lot of linkurl:articles;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/23105/ lately about peer review and the linkurl:fallout;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/23107/ from Hwang, and nothing?s changed the amount of trust I have in scientific journals. It?s easy to see how journalists who write for a general audience may have changed their views on publishing, given that all they hear about lately is misconduct. But I?m a science journalist -- I know science is self-correcting, and everyone who writes about it should know this, as well. And I know that fraud is what happens sometimes in research, and always has. There will always be another Hwang on the horizon.
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