5 maladies affectant l’édition scientifique

Nouvellement nommé rédacteur en chef à The Leadership Quaterly, John Antonakis, psychologue, se penche sur les problèmes qui touchent le monde de l’édition scientifique sous un angle inhabituel : il les présente comme des maladies et fait appel aux chercheurs, éditeurs et bailleurs de fonds pour prévenir, diagnostiquer et traiter 5 maladies dont souffrirait ce champ de diffusion.

Selon Antonakis, les 5 maladies sont fortement connectées et leurs causes se chevauchent.  Le nom des maladies sont en latin.

  1. Significosis : une focalisation sur la publication de résultats significatifs statistiquement et uniquement ceux-là. Because the players in the publication game only consider statistically significant results as interesting and worthwhile to publish, the distribution of effect sizes is highly skewed. The potentially wrong estimates feed into meta-analyses and then inform policy. A result could be significant for many reasons, including chance or investigator bias, and not because the effect is true.
  2. Neophilia : une appréciation excessive pour la nouveauté et les résultats « élégants » (snazzy).  There is nothing per se wrong with novel findings, but these are not the only findings that are useful; and, of course, sometimes novel findings turn out to be false. Replications of a previous effect, for instance, may not seem very interesting at the outset; but they are critical to helping understand if an effect is present or not. Many journals simply do not consider publishing replications, which I find disturbing. In my field, I am rather certain that many published findings and theories are flawed; however, they will never be challenged if replications—and null results studies too—are never published.
  1. Theorrhea : une obsession pour les nouvelles théories, qui affecte plus particulièrement les sciences sociales et qui est causée par le fait que les revues prestigieuses dans ces champs exigent une contribution originale issue de recherches théoriques plutôt que de recherches exploratoires. How is it possible that we can have so many contributions to theory? Imagine just in the field of management research, having say 5 elite journals, each publishing 80 papers a year. How is it possible to produce several hundred new contributions to theory every year, as compared say to physics, which has very strong theoretical foundations, but operates more slowly in terms of theory development and also appreciates basic research?

  2. Arigorium : une maladie attribuable à une déficience en rigueur dans le travail théorique et empirique. The theories in my field, and in most of the social sciences too, save economics and some branches of political science and sociology, are very imprecise. They need to be formalized and not produced on the “cheap” and in large quantities. They must make more precise, realistic, and testable predications. As regards empirical work, there is a real problem of failing to clearly identify causal empirical relations. A lot of the work that is done in many social sciences disciplines is observational and cross sectional and there is a dearth of well-done randomized controlled experiments, either in the field or the laboratory, or work that uses robust quasi-experimental procedures.
  3. Disjunctivitis : une propension à produire une vaste quantité de résultats redondants, banals et confus, incohérents. This happens because of several reasons, but primarily because quantity of publications is usually rewarded. In addition, researchers have to stake a name for themselves; given that novelty, significance results, and new theory are favored too means that a lot of research is produced that is disjointed from an established body of knowledge. Instead of advancing in a paradigmatic fashion, researchers each take little steps in different directions. Worse, they go backwards or just run on the spot and do not achieve much. The point is that the research that is done is fragmented and is not helping science advance in a cohesive fashion. Findings must be synthesized and bridges must be built to other disciplines (e.g., evolutionary biology) so that we can better understand how the world works.

Source – Oransky, Ivan.  Got “significosis?” Here are the five diseases of academic publishingRetraction Watch.  21 février 2017.

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