What Scientific Decline?

As a neurobiologist working at a local university for more than 30 years, I read Edward Archer’s provocative critique of scientific research with interest. We agree about a number of problems in the scientific enterprise, arising both from flaws inherent in people and from the sometimes-damaging pressures from funders and administrators whose goals aren’t focused … Continue reading “What Scientific Decline?”


Look Beyond Citation Counts to Kickstart Scientific Innovation

In scientific research, new ideas have become harder to find. Innovation has fallen compared to 50 years ago. Rather than a fear of “too much change,” many researchers worry about stagnation. One argument suggests that the low-hanging fruit of scientific research has already been picked. Older scientists made the major breakthroughs, and younger scientists now … Continue reading “Look Beyond Citation Counts to Kickstart Scientific Innovation”


University Researchers Search for Solutions to Coronavirus Pandemic

Here at the Martin Center, we often criticize university research. Rightly so. We have noted that academic journals are too expensive. We’ve argued that the publishing process itself is incoherent and slow. And that the peer review process fails to adequately vet new research. We’ve shown that the funding process for scientific research often leads … Continue reading “University Researchers Search for Solutions to Coronavirus Pandemic”


The Mess That Is Science Publishing

Researchers have been grumbling about the state of scientific publishing for years. Now, rumor has it that the Trump administration (yes, those science-haters!) may be trying to fix at least one problem: access to reports of government-funded research. The rumored proposal will require free, immediate access to all reports of government-funded scientific research. The rumor … Continue reading “The Mess That Is Science Publishing”


The Tangled Web of Scientific Publishing

Science Publishing Is Incoherent, Expensive, and Slow Communication is essential to science. The aim of scientific publication is to convey new findings as quickly as possible to as many interested parties as possible. But the world of “peer-reviewed” scientific publishing no longer functions as it should. Many publishing practices were devised at a time when … Continue reading “The Tangled Web of Scientific Publishing”


Peer Review: the Publication Game and “the Natural Selection of Bad Science”

Editor’s Note: This is part II; part I can be found here. Professor Brian Wansink is head of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University. The lab has had problems, some described in an article called “Spoiled Science” in the Chronicle of Higher Education early in 2017: Four papers on which he is a … Continue reading “Peer Review: the Publication Game and “the Natural Selection of Bad Science””


How Is Science Judged? How Useful Is Peer Review?

The British journal Nature, home in 1953 to Watson and Crick’s important DNA paper, was by 1966 rather in the doldrums, with a backlog of submitted manuscripts and losing ground to the general-science leader, the U.S. journal Science. That year, however, the publisher appointed as editor one John Maddox, a slightly eccentric theoretical physicist and … Continue reading “How Is Science Judged? How Useful Is Peer Review?”


Perverse Incentives in Science: 21st Century Funding for 20th Century Research

The Paradigm Shift Not long ago I was working with my occasional co-author, an associate dean in the school of economic, political and policy sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas, on creating a campus research institute focused on spontaneous orders. That is a field that attempts to explain how social order emerges from … Continue reading “Perverse Incentives in Science: 21st Century Funding for 20th Century Research”