Will Moralization of Science Lead to “Better” Science?

Author : Yves Gingras

In the fall of 2018, The US National Science Foundation (NSF) implemented a new policy on sexual harassment. A few months later, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), took a further step in the fight against harassment by announcing that researchers accused of harassment, but not yet found guilty, could nonetheless be excluded from the lists of potential reviewers of submitted projects.

We also observe a recent tendency to call for the retraction of published peer-reviewed results on the basis that their conclusions are considered to go against the moral convictions of some social groups, though the lack of validity of the results has not been proven.

It is certainly a legitimate question to ask whether these kinds of policies and moral critiques, which directly link the practice of science to the moral behavior of the scientists in the larger society, do not initiate a profound transformation in the relations between science and society by adding to the usually implicit norms governing the scientific community a new form of moralization of the scientists themselves.

We analyze these recent events in terms of a new process of moralization of science and ask whether these new rules of conduct may lead to doing better or more robust science.

URL : Will Moralization of Science Lead to “Better” Science?

DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.35995/jci02020004

L’effet SIGAPS : La recherche médicale française sous l’emprise de l’évaluation comptable

Auteurs/Authors : Yves Gingras, Mahdi Khelfaoui

Cette recherche a pour but de mettre en évidence les effets pervers générés par l’introduction du système SIGAPS (Système d’interrogation, de gestion, et d’analyse des publications scientifiques) sur la production scientifique française en médecine et en sciences biomédicales.

Cet outil biblio-métrique de gestion et de financement de la recherche présente un exemple emblématique des dé-rives que peuvent générer les méthodes d’évaluation de la recherche reposant sur des critères pu-rement comptables.

Dans cette note, nous présentons d’abord le fonctionnement de SIGAPS, pour ensuite expliquer précisément en quoi les méthodes de calcul des « points SIGAPS », fondés sur les facteurs d’impact des revues et l’ordre des noms des co-auteurs, posent de nombreux problèmes.

Nous identifions notamment les effets du système SIGAPS sur les dynamiques de publications, les choix des lieux de publications, la langue de publication et les critères de recrutement et de promotion des chercheurs.

Finalement, nous montrons que l’utilisation du système SIGAPS ne répond pas bien à tous les critères de ce que l’on pourrait appeler une « éthique de l’évaluation » qui devrait respecter certaines règles, comme la transparence, l’équité et la validité des indicateurs.

URL : https://cirst2.openum.ca/files/sites/179/2020/10/Note_2020-05vf.pdf

Branding Scholarly Journals: Transmuting Symbolic Capital into Economic Capital

Auteurs/Authors : Mahdi Khelfaoui, Yves Gingras

In this paper, we analyze a relatively recent commercial strategy devised by large academic publishers, consisting in the branding of their most prestigious scientific journals. Using Pierre Bourdieu’s model of capital conversion, we show how publishers transfer the symbolic capital of an already prestigious journal to derivative journals that capture part of the prestige of the original brand and transform it into new economic capital.

As shown by their high impact factors, these new journals, bearing the mark of the original journal in their titles, are rapidly adopted by researchers. Through manuscript transfer mechanisms, publishers also use part of the papers rejected by their flagship and highly selective jour-nals to recycle and monetize them inlower impactor open access derivativejournals of their lists.

URL : https://cirst2.openum.ca/files/sites/179/2020/08/Note_2020-03-branding.pdf

Intellectual and social similarity among scholarly journals: An exploratory comparison of the networks of editors, authors and co-citations

Authors : Alberto Baccini, Lucio Barabesi, Mahdi Khelfaoui, Yves Gingras

This paper explores, by using suitable quantitative techniques, to what extent the intellectual proximity among scholarly journals is also proximity in terms of social communities gathered around the journals.

Three fields are considered: statistics, economics and information and library sciences. Co-citation networks represent intellectual proximity among journals. The academic communities around the journals are represented by considering the networks of journals generated by authors writing in more than one journal (interlocking authorship: IA), and the networks generated by scholars sitting on the editorial board of more than one journal (interlocking editorship: IE).

Dissimilarity matrices are considered to compare the whole structure of the networks. The CC, IE, and IA networks appear to be correlated for the three fields. The strongest correlation is between CC and IA for the three fields.

Lower and similar correlations are obtained for CC and IE, and for IE and IA. The CC, IE, and IA networks are then partitioned in communities. Information and library sciences is the field in which communities are more easily detectable, whereas the most difficult field is economics.

The degrees of association among the detected communities show that they are not independent. For all the fields, the strongest association is between CC and IA networks; the minimum level of association is between IE and CC.

Overall, these results indicate that intellectual proximity is also proximity among authors and among editors of the journals. Thus, the three maps of editorial power, intellectual proximity, and authors communities tell similar stories.

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1162/qss_a_00006

The weakening relationship between the Impact Factor and papers’ citations in the digital age


Authors : George A. Lozano, Vincent Lariviere, Yves Gingras

Historically, papers have been physically bound to the journal in which they were published but in the electronic age papers are available individually, no longer tied to their respective journals. Hence, papers now can be read and cited based on their own merits, independently of the journal’s physical availability, reputation, or Impact Factor.

We compare the strength of the relationship between journals’ Impact Factors and the actual citations received by their respective papers from 1902 to 2009. Throughout most of the 20th century, papers’ citation rates were increasingly linked to their respective journals’ Impact Factors.

However, since 1990, the advent of the digital age, the strength of the relation between Impact Factors and paper citations has been decreasing. This decrease began sooner in physics, a field that was quicker to make the transition into the electronic domain.

Furthermore, since 1990, the proportion of highly cited papers coming from highly cited journals has been decreasing, and accordingly, the proportion of highly cited papers not coming from highly cited journals has also been increasing.

Should this pattern continue, it might bring an end to the use of the Impact Factor as a way to evaluate the quality of journals, papers and researchers.”

URL : http://arxiv.org/abs/1205.4328