“SCIENCE’S SOKAL MOMENT”. Here in an article from the Economist is an argument against the kind of open-access journals that Professor Schekman praises. John Bohannan, a biologist at Harvard, wrote a fake paper about how a chemical extracted from lichen slowed the growth of cancer. Bohannan submitted the paper to a number of open access journals. The author’s name and the author’s institution were fakes, and, in the Economist’s words,the study was “bursting with clangers”, but 157 journals accepted it and only 98 rejected it.

The hoax provides a reminder that there are a lot of bad papers that get published (and journals that do less screening will publish a higher percentage of them). It seems to me that the advantage of publishing useful but dull replication papers and dull papers with negative results is worth the risk of publishing bad papers, which will eventually be weeded out or ignored.

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