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Publishing bias out of the bottle

Tomáš Grim, an ornithologist at Palacky University in the notoriously linkurl:beer;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/25122/ besotted Czech Republic, came down with a bad case of mononucleosis in 1999. His illness prohibited him from drinking for about a year. Soon after he recovered, he began publishing papers in more high profile scientific journals, such as Proceedings of the Royal Society B and Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. Grim's new-found prolificacy on the heels

By | March 18, 2008

Tomáš Grim, an ornithologist at Palacky University in the notoriously linkurl:beer;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/25122/ besotted Czech Republic, came down with a bad case of mononucleosis in 1999. His illness prohibited him from drinking for about a year. Soon after he recovered, he began publishing papers in more high profile scientific journals, such as Proceedings of the Royal Society B and Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. Grim's new-found prolificacy on the heels of his extended sobriety got him thinking about how guzzling linkurl:beer;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/22991/ affected the publishing habits of his fellow researchers. He surveyed the drinking habits and publication records of nearly all the avian ecologists and evolutionary biologists in the Czech Republic, which has the highest beer consumption rates of any country. He found that the number of papers published, the total number of citations received, and the average number of citations per paper all declined with increased beer consumption. And this linkurl:finding,;http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.2008.0030-1299.16551.x which was published online in February on the website of the journal Oikos, not only applied to binge drinkers — the trend was consistent both in the heavy-drinking western region of Bohemia, where researchers knocked back around 200 liters of beer per year, and the relatively teetotalling eastern Moravia region, where drinkers down less than 50 liters per year. "I didn't expect any patterns would be recognizable," Grim wrote in an Email. "So I was really surprised." In 2002, Grim surveyed the literature to see how Czech researchers fared on the international stage. To his surprise, he found that Czech ornithologists had published only 41 papers in non-Czech peer-reviewed journals over the previous two decades. He relayed this information to his colleague linkurl:Anders Moller;http://parasito-evolutive.snv.jussieu.fr/ of the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, who, according to Grim, responded that it was "no surprise when [Czechs] drink so much beer." But Moller, a behavioral ecologist who prefers wine over beer, now has a more nuanced view of the paper's results. He thinks beer's negative effects are probably not just confined to the Czech Republic. Because drinking is both a social and sexual activity, he argues, like other social signals, "there are costs associated with the production of those particular signals." But not everyone is convinced that the hoppy malt beverage is to blame. "I don't think productivity is affected by beer consumption," said David Storch of Charles University in Prague. Storch, who completed the survey for Grim's study and said he drinks 5–6 beers per week, said the effect is probably due to "lifestyle in general," and doesn't plan to change his drinking habits. Even though he saw his own publication habits pick up on the heels of a year away from pilsners and ales, Grim doesn't have a personal vendetta against sudsy beverages. In fact, Grim said he now drinks about 150 liters of beer per year. But he does watch to see how much others are linkurl:drinking.;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/23069/ "Now I pay more attention to the drinking habits of scientists I meet," he wrote in an Email.
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Comments

Avatar of: Ivan Oransky

Ivan Oransky

Posts: 2

March 21, 2008

For more on Anders Moller and some of the questions others have raised about his work, see The Scientist's January 2007 feature:\n\nhttp://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/39386/\n\nIvan Oransky\nformer deputy editor\nThe Scientist
Avatar of: Fred Mast

Fred Mast

Posts: 1

March 21, 2008

While there may definitely be a trend between litres of beer consumed and impact of papers published. A statistic is not evidence for cause-and-effect. Do ornithologist's who guzzle 200 litres of beer per year spend as much time on a paper as their more self-restrained colleagues? ...
Avatar of: Dung Le

Dung Le

Posts: 17

March 21, 2008

I agree to previous post that this is not statistically sounded report.\n\nThe first survey conducted on less than 18, the second on less than 34, all of them working on the same field and living in 1 country.\n\nThis report has nothing better than to increase click-per-day for the journal and some other news agencies. NYTimes has commentary about this too.\n\nIt can also serve and a joke to boot sleepy people in the lab though.
Avatar of: PONS H MOE

PONS H MOE

Posts: 1

March 22, 2008

I salute the authors of this very educational and highly informative article on the above subject. This will surely help others on understanding the bottling process of beer. I hope the authors will continue more researches on this field.\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 4

March 24, 2008

Of course, there is the Buffalo theory - "A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo and when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now, as we know, excessive drinking of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. And that, Norm, is why you always feel smarter after a few beers" - Norm from Cheers
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

March 25, 2008

Most of my best ideas occur over a beer with other colleagues, so I'd argue the opposite - that beer drinking is conducive to the open exchange of ideas in a comfortable environment. Of course, the very best ideas could well occur when you are so plastered that you can't remember them the next morning !

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