Richard Smith (who used to edit the BMJ) has just posted on Facebook:

Publishing in journals is a slow, balls aching process that adds no value. Only academics who need the “points” bother. Far better to blog.

Richard has long argued against the peer-review process and here are two blogs, by Richard, for further reading

A connected article, by John Ioannidis, How to Make More Published Research True, makes a number of assertions, two of which are selectively shown below:

  • Currently, many published research findings are false or exaggerated, and an estimated 85% of research resources are wasted.
  • Modifications need to be made in the reward system for science, affecting the exchange rates for currencies (e.g., publications and grants) and purchased academic goods (e.g., promotion and other academic or administrative power) and introducing currencies that are better aligned with translatable and reproducible research.

 I’ve often marveled at the connected worlds of academia and publishers – two worlds that have a symbiotic relationship, one without the other wouldn’t work.  I am on a few online academic paper repositories and I’m always getting emails from people I follow who have published a new article.  I’m staggered by how often they can churn them out.

I then look at the wonderful EvidenceUpdates (a service funded by the BMJ and supplied by HIRU at McMaster). They scan the ‘top’ 120 journals and do an in-house quality assessment (a form of critical appraisal) and those that pass get sent to a network of clinicians who assess the papers for newsworthiness and relevancy to clinical practice.  Amazingly around 95-96% are rejected.  While I’m not suggesting all 95-96% are junk, I suspect the majority are little more than vanity publishing.  Academics wanting another article for their CV and publishers desperate for content to justify the purchase price.

My own world of Q&A frequently shows how poorly aligned academia is with coal-face clinical information need.  It was one of the reasons I got involved in the setting up of DUETs (DUETs publishes treatment uncertainties from patients, carers, clinicians, and from research recommendations, covering a wide variety of health problems.) The idea is to grab ‘real’ questions with a view to improving research procurement.  There is a suspicion that academics pursue their own interests which may not be aligned with clinical need.  So, DUETs allows for the ‘real’ questions to be raised.  Working with James Lind Alliance it can be a powerful combination.

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