Saturday, October 11, 2008

Are Most Papers in Nature Likely To Be Wrong?

A friend emailed me this article from The Economist:

In Economic theory the winner’s curse refers to the idea that someone who places the winning bid in an auction may have paid too much. Consider, for example, bids to develop an oil field. Most of the offers are likely to cluster around the true value of the resource, so the highest bidder probably paid too much.

The same thing may be happening in scientific publishing, according to a new analysis. With so many scientific papers chasing so few pages in the most prestigious journals, the winners could be the ones most likely to oversell themselves—to trumpet dramatic or important results that later turn out to be false. This would produce a distorted picture of scientific knowledge, with less dramatic (but more accurate) results either relegated to obscure journals or left unpublished.

Marginal Revolution has a more detailed debate in the comments section.

I don't read much geosciences in Nature or Science. But should I now pay more attention to papers in Carbonates and Evaporites instead of Journal of Sedimentary Research?!

Apologies to the Editors.

More importantly, is some of my unpublished PhD work really the real deal!?

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