New reseach published in PLOS Biology shows that researchers are quite bad at recognizing what is meaningfull research and not. It is not so easy to decide what is important and not. What is defined as meaningfull and important? Is it research which is methodologically and theoretically sound, research which is innovative or research which has the biggest effect on everyday life?
The research at hand shows that researcher who assess same articles do not give them same raiting more often than they would have done randomly. Researchers have been looking at three ways to review and assess research in this study: peer review, number of ciations and the journals impact factor. These indicators are considered to be measurements on what is meaninfull and important or not. The researchers show that the publishing medium – which journal an article is published in – has effet on the reviewers opinion on the quality of the publication. In other words, the idea is that the higher impact the journal has the higher impact the research has.
The problem lies in the fact that impact factors varies between research areas and that some research areas do not publish in journals, which means that their research cannot be measuerd using impact factor. The problem is also peer review system since it doesn’t always have the highest quality. Therefore there must be other ways to determine what is meaningfull and important research. One way is to have open review after publishing and those publications with quality comments will be remaining. This does not fix the problem with the definition of what is meaningfull and important research.
Since assessing what is meaningfull and important research is difficult and noone seems to know what it is the researchers behind the article conlcude that it might therefore be better to invest into a large variation of research instead of investing big on a couple of individual researchers or research groups.
Read the whole article:
Eyre-Walker, A. & Stoletzko, N. (2013). The assessment of science: the relative merits of post-publication review, the impact factor, and the number of citations. PloS Biology 11(10), DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001675 [2014-02-21]