Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Do “high-quality journals” always publish “high-quality papers”?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 23, 2023 by telescoper

After a busy morning correcting examination scripts, I have now reached the lunch interval and thought I’d use the opportunity to share a paper I found via Stephen Curry on Twitter with the title In which fields do higher impact journals publish higher quality articles?. It’s quite telling that anyone should ask the question. It’s also telling that the paper, in a Springer journal called Scientometrics is behind a paywall. I can at least share the abstract:

The Journal Impact Factor and other indicators that assess the average citation rate of articles in a journal are consulted by many academics and research evaluators, despite initiatives against overreliance on them. Undermining both practices, there is limited evidence about the extent to which journal impact indicators in any field relate to human judgements about the quality of the articles published in the field’s journals. In response, we compared average citation rates of journals against expert judgements of their articles in all fields of science. We used preliminary quality scores for 96,031 articles published 2014–18 from the UK Research Excellence Framework 2021. Unexpectedly, there was a positive correlation between expert judgements of article quality and average journal citation impact in all fields of science, although very weak in many fields and never strong. The strength of the correlation varied from 0.11 to 0.43 for the 27 broad fields of Scopus. The highest correlation for the 94 Scopus narrow fields with at least 750 articles was only 0.54, for Infectious Diseases, and there was only one negative correlation, for the mixed category Computer Science (all), probably due to the mixing. The average citation impact of a Scopus-indexed journal is therefore never completely irrelevant to the quality of an article but is also never a strong indicator of article quality. Since journal citation impact can at best moderately suggest article quality it should never be relied on for this, supporting the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment.

There is some follow-up discussion on this paper and its conclusions here.

The big problem of course is how you define “high-quality papers” and “high-quality journals”. As in the above discussion this usually resolves itself into something to do with citation impact, which is problematic to start with but if that’s the route you want to go down then there is sufficient readily available article-level information for each paper nowadays that you don’t need any journal metrics at all. The academic journal industry won’t agree of course, as it’s in their interest to perpetuate the falsehood that such rankings matter. The fact that correlation between article “quality” measures and journal “quality” measures is weak does not surprise me. I think there are many weak papers that have passed peer review and appeared in high-profile journals. This is another reason for disregarding the journal entirely. Don’t judge the quality of an item by the wrapping, but by what’s inside it!

There is quite a lot of discussion in my own field of astrophysics about what the “leading journals” are. Different ranking methods produce different lists, not surprisingly given the arbitrariness of the methods used. According to this site, The Open Journal of Astrophysics ranks 4th out of 48 journals., but it doesn’t appear on some other lists because the academic publication industry, which acts as gate-keeper via Clarivate, does not seem not to like its unconventional approach. According to Exaly, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS) is ranked in 13th place, while according to this list, it is 14th. No disrespect to MNRAS, but I don’t see any objective justification for calling it “the leading journal in the field”.

The top ranked journals in astronomy and astrophysics are generally review journals, which have always attract lots of citations through references like “see Bloggs 2015 and references therein”. Many of these review articles are really excellent and contribute a great deal to their discipline, but it’s not obvious they can be compared with actual research papers. At OJAp we decided to allow review articles of sufficiently high quality because we see the journal primarily as a service to the community rather than a service to the bean-counters who make the rankings.

Now, back to the exams…

Defamation in Germany

Posted in Uncategorized on May 22, 2023 by telescoper

Tangentially related to yesterday’s post, I’m reminded that, some time ago, a friend of mine, based in Germany, who happens to be a lawyer (Rechtsanwältin), informed me that defamation is a criminal offence under German law. This is different from the UK and Ireland, where defamation is a matter for the civil courts. Here is a translation of Section 187 of the German criminal code (Strafgesetzbuch):

Sections 185 and 186 are related to this. The law applies to acts committed in Germany, such as sending messages by email or via social media using a computer based there.

I mention this law for two reasons. One is that to point out to readers that they have legal recourse if a person based in Germany is intentionally defaming you. The other is to suggest that, if you are based in Germany and are in the habit of committing repeated acts of intentional defamation, it may be in your best interests to desist.

I hope this clarifies the situation.

Beard of Ireland 2023.Four Face Off in Beard Off Final

Posted in Uncategorized on March 15, 2023 by telescoper

Well, I got through the first round by a whisker but I’m up against stiff competition in the final. Please consider giving me a vote if you can stand interacting with the Bird site!

Kmflett's Blog

Beard Liberation Front

15th March

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

BEARD OF IRELAND 2023 FOUR FACE OFF IN BEARD OFF FINAL

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that competition for the Irish Beard of the Year 2023 has reached the Beard Off Final.

William Crawley and Peter Coles won the first Trim Off round and Aodhan Connolly and Shane Lowry won the second Trim Off

The 2017 winner was politician Colum Eastwood who bearded broadcaster William Crawley for the annual Award.

In 2018 the DUP’s Lee Reynolds shaved writer Dominic O’Reilly for the honour with Colum Eastwood in a steady third place.

In 2019 Lee Reynolds retained the title

The 2020 winner was Maynooth academic Peter Coles

In 2021 Aodhan Connolly shaved opponents to win the coveted title and he retained it in 2022

The BLF says that while traditionally a land of predominantly…

View original post 176 more words

Beard of Ireland 2023 Poll sees competition bristling

Posted in Uncategorized on March 11, 2023 by telescoper

It seems the poll for Beard of Ireland 2023 has opened. If you remember that far back, I won this award in 2020 with an early manifestation of lockdown beard. The voting is on Twitter and quite a few people who might have been tempted to vote for me have left that platform because of a Musk allergy, so I probably won’t get many votes. Here goes anyway, though. If you feel like voting for me in the first qualifying round please follow the instructions here.

Kmflett's Blog

Beard Liberation Front

11th March

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

BEARD OF IRELAND 2023 POLL SEES COMPETITION BRISTLING

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that competition for the Irish Beard of the Year 2023 is officially open

The 2017 winner was politician Colum Eastwood who bearded broadcaster William Crawley for the annual Award.

In 2018 the DUP’s Lee Reynolds shaved writer Dominic O’Reilly for the honour with Colum Eastwood in a steady third place.

In 2019 Lee Reynolds retained the title

The 2020 winner was Maynooth academic Peter Coles

In 2021 Aodhan Connolly shaved opponents to win the coveted title and he retained it in 2022

The BLF says that while traditionally a land of predominantly clean-shaven cultures, Ireland has in recent times become something of a centre for stylish and trendy beards.

Contenders for the title in 2023 include a diverse range of…

View original post 137 more words

Product Placement

Posted in Uncategorized on March 9, 2023 by telescoper

I’m grateful to Franco Vazza for pointing out this superb bit of product placement in the advertisements on yesterday’s blog post:

I wonder what advert it will place under this one? Will it cause an infinite regress?

The Cost of Elsevier

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 8, 2023 by telescoper

I’ve just seen the annual report of RELX, the parent company of academic publishing house Elsevier. This annual report for RELX contains the accounts for Elsevier for 2022 in which I found the following headline figures:

  • Revenue: €3.26 billion
  • Profit: €1.2 billion
  • Margin: 37.8%

A couple of points of reference are worth mentioning.

One is that the entire annual budget for the European Research Council is €2.4 billion, so Elsevier’s profits on their own represent about half this budget. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather it were spent on actual research. People talk about a windfall tax on profiteering energy companies. Why not apply the same logic in this case?

The other is that Elsevier’s profit margin (37.8%) can be compared with that of, Google (21.2%) or Apple (24.56%). It’s easy money being an academic publisher.

I cannot understand why the academic community allows this parasitic industry to flourish by continuing to throw taxpayers’ money at it. I draw your attention to the Cost of Knowledge campaign and, when it comes to publishing in Elsevier journals, acting as Editor, or doing refereeing for them, just say no.

The RAS Awards

Posted in Uncategorized on January 13, 2023 by telescoper

I’m sitting in the bar of the National Concert Hall in Dublin ahead of tonight’s concert but I have enough time to congratulate all the winners of this year’s Royal Astronomical Awards. The full list of awardees, announced this afternoon, can be found here.

In particular, I’d like to congratulate John Peacock on his Gold Medal!

John is an occasional commenter on this blog, and may even read it sometimes too!

Fifty Years of Gravitation

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 5, 2023 by telescoper

I was surprised to discover, a couple of days ago, that the classic textbook Gravitation by Misner, Thorne and Wheeler is 50 years old this year. MTW as it is usually known was first published in 1973, and has has now been reprinted 24 times. I bought my copy (shown above) about 30 years ago. I’ve often joked that this tome is so hefty that it not only allows one to read about Gravitation but also to experience its practical effects!

This anniversary reminds me that there was a competition running at ITP2022 last year that involved holding out a copy of the book  in one hand at arm’s length for as long as possible following the instructions below:

The winner of the competition was John Brennan of Maynooth University, with a time of 3 minutes and 29 seconds. If you can lay your hands on a copy of MTW you can try to do better!

 

Merry Christmas to Physics Students Everywhere!

Posted in Uncategorized on December 25, 2022 by telescoper

Swingin’ Them Jingle Bells

Posted in Uncategorized on December 24, 2022 by telescoper

Well, it’s been a miserable Christmas Eve with heavy showers of sleet and God knows what else nearly all afternoon. Nevertheless I’m determined to make an attempt to get into the Christmas spirit for tomorrow. If Fats Waller can’t do help me achieve that, nobody can. Here’s his classic version of Jingle Bells on which the general atmosphere of hilarity and inspired chaos allows his superb musicianship to shine all the more brightly. Few ever managed to play Harlem Stride piano as well as Fats Waller, and he’s on top form in the opening choruses of this record.