More on the Disregard Syndrome

Editor's Note: All of these letters relate to the Opinion article, "The Disregard Syndrome: A Menace to Honest Science?" by Isaac Ginsburg, published in the Dec. 10, 2001 issue of The Scientist. See also, "Demand Citation Vigilance," a commentary by Eugene Garfield. Two common variants of the disregard syndrome deserve explicit identification. The "but see" variant typically involves a citation sequence such as "Much work supports this idea (Alpha 1991, Beta 1992, Gamma 1993—but see Delta

Raymond O'connor
Jan 20, 2002
Editor's Note:
All of these letters relate to the Opinion article, "The Disregard Syndrome: A Menace to Honest Science?" by Isaac Ginsburg, published in the Dec. 10, 2001 issue of The Scientist. See also, "Demand Citation Vigilance," a commentary by Eugene Garfield.
Two common variants of the disregard syndrome deserve explicit identification. The "but see" variant typically involves a citation sequence such as "Much work supports this idea (Alpha 1991, Beta 1992, Gamma 1993—but see Delta 1994)." The "but see" citation to Delta's contrary findings is a fundamentally Machiavellian version of Isaac Ginsburg's "intentional disregard" category: Its user can claim that contrary evidence was acknowledged, yet not appraise readers as to the strength of that evidence. The "most recently cited" variant, on the other hand, reflects only laziness: One cites a very recent work in which the topic is mentioned, even if only in passing, as if it were...

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