Friday Links

I have so many links this week, that I am thinking of changing the format, from a regular Friday Links feature to posting some of these short notes as their own posts.

1. On reproducibility and incentives

The linked position paper has an interesting discussion of incentives [1]:

Publishing a result does not make it true. Many published results have uncertain truth value. Dismissing a direct replication as “we already knew that” is misleading; the actual criticism is “someone has already claimed that.”

They also discuss how for-profit actors (pharma and biotech) have better incentives to replicate (and get it right, not published; in the first place):

Investing hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new treatment that is ineffective is a waste of resources and an enormous burden to patients in experimental trials. By contrast, for academic researchers there are few consequences for being wrong. If replications get done and the original result is irreproducible nothing happens.

2. A takedown of a PNAS paper:

If, as an Academic Editor for PLOS One I had received this article as a manuscript, I would probably have recommended Rejection without sending it out for further review. But if I had sent the manuscript out for review, I would have chosen at least some reviewers with relevant psychometric backgrounds.


By the way, the linked publication has a very high altmetric score (top 5% and it was only published last week).

3. On learning bioinformatics. This is the 21st century, the hard part is motivation

4. An awesome video via Ed Yong: what happens when a mosquito bites

I typically avoid science popularizations as frustrating to read (often oversimplified to the point of being wrong or trying to spin a scientific point into some BS philosophy), but Ed Yong is so refreshing. He is truly fascinated by the science itself and understands it.

(The Economist, which I used to have time to read, is also excellent at science, as it is at everything else).

5. A gem found by Derek Lowe:

Emma, please insert NMR data here! where are they? and for this compound, just make up an elemental analysis…

In the supplemental data of a published paper.

6. The dangers of lossy image compression: scanning documents semi-randomly changes numbers: because rows of numbers may look very similar in pixel distance, this makes the system reuse patches of the image!

7. The Mighty Named Pipe

[1] I quote from the preprint on arXiv, I hope it hasn’t changed in the final version.

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