From: Info <info**At_Symbol_Here**>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Impact Factor: Friend or Foe?
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 2021 11:31:44 -0400
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**Princeton.EDU>
Message-ID: 3C54B4C0-8604-422E-800F-2C67B8220C58**At_Symbol_Here**

Amen and Hallelujah. 

Here's a cascade of related reads that come from this failed system.  First, the issue of "novelty" 

Which leads to this: 

And this: 

A  big problem is that failed replication studies are not considered scholarly or publishable in much the same way as safety notes. For example, 

Moving beyond the big name journals is one approach, but it has its own set of serious flaws. This article is paywalled:  Here is a summary from the lecture notes I use for this one in my Nobel Prize course:

• John Bohannon (Harvard) uses various pseudonyms and submits variations of a bogus paper describing the anti-cancer properties of a lichen extract to 304 "open-access" journals, some peer-reviewed.
• Content identical, but changed identities of molecules, species etc. to make each unique. Random author names, random fictitious African universities.
• Graph caption would claim a dose-dependent effect on cell growth, but the data would show the opposite.
• Experimental section had hideously bad methods and controls.
• Used Google to translate paper to French and then back again to make fake idioms.
• Final statement is that the next step is trials on animals and humans (never the case in a real study).


• 157 journals accepted it and 98 rejected.
• 60% of final decisions occurred with no sign of peer review.
• In this subset rejection is good, for acceptance, that's a rubber stamp (Bad!).
• Of 106 that performed review, 70% accepted it.
• Only 36 had comments on the scientific problems
• 16 of these were accepted despite the reviewer's poor/scathing review.
• "Open access" journals are the Wild West - some are good, full efforts, the others are the equivalent of offshore diploma mills.

And some more sad statistics: 

One more: 

And we wonder why pseudoscience claptrap is more popular than ever these days.

Rob Toreki

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On Sep 27, 2021, at 11:04 AM, CHAS membership <membership**At_Symbol_Here**DCHAS.ORG> wrote:

I want to highlight the editorial in the list of articles I just sent to the list. It is entitled: Impact Factor: Friend or Foe?

This article raises a Very Important Issue for the lab community in general and the lab safety community in particular for at least three reasons:

1. The editorial describes the connection between individual professional advancement and the prejudices of the publication process. In observing the lab community over the years, I have seen many situations where professional advancement considerations hinder both professional development of the individual and organizational development of a research group to be more effective scientists. This may be one reason that more and more research is moving out of the academic environment. See the C&EN article on
A sizzling biotech job market is streamlining the course to a career in chemistry
As PhDs leave postdocs early for industry, researchers are considering the future of their postdoc programs at

2. The publication process's preference for novel results means 1) work related to safety aspects of lab work is not included in many papers and 2) the work of verifying the lab procedures and results is seldom considered publishable. This means, for example, if a chemical process explodes because the order of two steps in the procedure are reversed from the original procedure, this information is not shared in peer reviewed journals, where the information is much more discoverable than in more informal settings.

3. This prejudice means that the time required to develop practical Lessons Learned, including those from safety incidents, is not invested by the lab community, which is driven to get the publishable science back on track, rather than to understand what the incident is trying to tell us about the science being conducted.

The reason I wanted to highlight these thoughts is that someone glancing at the title might this the question being debated is whether the Impact Factor is the "Friend or Foe" of a particular journal. I think the points made in the article show that the Impact Factor is a "Friend or Foe" of the scientific enterprise as a whole, both for its credibility and its safety.

The editorial can be found at

- Ralph

Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Membership Chair
American Chemical Society Division of Chemical Health and Safety

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