Bad Research (2 messages) Marcia Tuttle 01 Aug 2002 14:27 UTC

Date: Thu, 1 Aug 2002 07:29:39 -0600
From: Dan Lester <>
Subject: Re: Statement from Sage (Bad Research) (3 messages)

Thursday, August 1, 2002, 6:39:13 AM, you wrote:
         A similar article appeared in JASIST [610-614. 2001]
         Price's (Lotka's) law can indeed break down when you
         have articles authored by 100 or more researchers and

I'm waiting to see the citation for an article with 100 or more
authors.  I've seen ones with eight or ten, but am anxious to see the
citation for one with triple digit authors.

         When Price described 'big science' in 1963, he wrote,
         "if we know how many papers are published in a field,
         we can compute the number of men who have written them."
         [LITTLE SCIENCE BIG SCIENCE p. 63] I really don't think
         that anything has changed since then.

I'm glad you "don't think anything has changed" since then.  Once
again, I'd like some citations that show that nothing has changed. If
all that Price said forty years ago is still valid, I'm sure that some
scholar would have revalidated it in the last decade, at least.  If
nothing has changed in this field, it is probably the only field in
all of human knowledge that has NOT changed in the last forty years.



Dan Lester, Data Wrangler 208-283-7711
3577 East Pecan, Boise, Idaho  83716-7115 USA  Stop Global Whining!

Date: Thu, 01 Aug 2002 09:55:14 -0400
From: Frieda Rosenberg <>
Subject: Re: Statement from Sage (Bad Research) (3 messages)

....snip.....  The quoted Mr Price pegged the
> > modern form of the scientific article at "about a century" ago, after a
> > long period of resistance from scientists who felt that only monographs
> > could justly cover a subject.  (New ways of doing things are always
> > resisted!)  Price also noted the rise of collaborative research, which
> > compensated for scientists with "less than one paper" in them (his
> > words) and allowed "fractional scientists" to do research!  Donald deB.
> > Beaver, a former collaborator of Price, offers this in his recent
> > article, "Reflections on scientific collaboration (and its study)"
> > (Scientometrics, 52:3(2001):365-77:  "Teamwork, or giant collaborations,
> > represents a new paradigm for the organizational structure of
> > research."  He describes how "giant teams" can now deploy great numbers
> > of students who can bring in a publishable amount of data in three
> > months in contrast to the five years previously required by a single
> > researcher with his own student help.  If this isn't a change, I don't
> > know what is...
>         Sorry I couldn't wait for ILL to produce your source.
As a substitute, I would recommend Beaver's similarly titled
contribution to the Second Berlin Workshop on Scientometrics and
Infometrics --, on the
Web.  (Does this tell us something?)  Especially between p.31 and 35,
much relevant information appears, including that "giant collaborations"
have spread from high energy physics to medicine and biology, e.g. human
genome research.

>         A similar article appeared in JASIST [610-614. 2001]
>         Price's (Lotka's) law can indeed break down when you
>         have articles authored by 100 or more researchers and
>         you limit your data to physics institutes! When applied
>         to the entire academic R&D universe, however, the
>         effect is insignificant. The misnamed 'new paradigm'
>         is an abberation. It appears only under the most
>         extreme disturbances.

>         When Price described 'big science' in 1963, he wrote,
>         "if we know how many papers are published in a field,
>         we can compute the number of men who have written them."
>         [LITTLE SCIENCE BIG SCIENCE p. 63] I really don't think
>         that anything has changed since then.

Can't find.  Perhaps it was dropped from the posthumous 1986 edition?

As to the below, another magic idea:  Reduce price (most of which goes
"straight to profitability.")  Then, magically, libraries will be able
to afford more journals.

Best wishes,
Frieda Rosenberg
UNC-Chapel Hill
>   Looking for a magic idea? Herbert S White had one.
>         In his White Papers column, he observed that in the
>         competition for budget dollars, the failures of a
>         library are more important than markers of
>         satisfaction. (For some reason, librarians would
>         rather emphasize the latter.) Crime statistics, for
>         example, measure the inadequacy of law and order. The
>         FBI's annual publicity makes headlines and propels
>         police chiefs' annual budget requests through the
>         approval process. Perhaps failures of library
>         collections could support libraries' budget requests.
>         [LJ 120,1 (Jan., 1995): 58, 60.] In other words,
>         librarians and libraries would fare better by
>         emphasizing the numbers of information requests that
>         could _not_ be satisfied. I have offered a 'Collection
>         Failure Quotient' -- the ratio of interlibrary
>         borrowing and collection size [access v. ownership] --
>         for this purpose. [Journal of Academic Librarianship.
>         26,3:159-170. 2000.] There are other approaches
>         to measure dissatisfaction including interlibrary
>         borrowing failures, patron interviews, etc. Harold
>         Varmus complained to Congress that many researchers
>         used grant money to subscribe to journals [which
>         should be available in the library].  A census of
>         private subscriptions would be an interesting
>         indicator of dissatisfaction.
>         Speaking mainly about the expensive science serials
>         that support sponsored R&D, another magic answer
>         should lie in research overhead. Overhead accounts
>         for 1/3 of $30 billion federally sponsored academic
>         research spending (2000). Libraries are designated as
>         an overhead factor. How much of the $10 billion
>         overhead reimbursements supports libraries? It
>         shouldn't be too hard to identify the costs
>         associated with those expensive science journals.
>         The definition of overhead expenses to be covered by
>         reimbursements was originally agreed as "full
>         accountable costs."
>         If library overhead were handled in ways that
>         actually reflected the ways that libraries are
>         used by the researchers who prepare, review, and
>         execute sponsored research, I believe library
>         funding would be better.
>         Unfortunately, library reimbursements are
>         negotiated by financial managers, not by
>         librarians. As a result, library reimbursements to
>         go administrative slush funds, not to libraries.
>         Worse, the money can be lost due to bureaucratic
>         incompetence. The Inspector General of the National
>         Science Board found examples costs that the General
>         Accounting Office identified as unallowable or
>         questionable. One example given was $7 million in
>         library costs claimed by Stanford because the
>         university "did not use the default method specified
>         by OMB Circular A-21." [Federally Sponsored Research:
>         How Indirect Costs are Charged by Educational and
>         Other Research Institutions.]
> > AH>         The SERIALS PRICES PROJECT REPORT of the Association
> > AH>         of Research Libraries (1989) made 'excessive publication'
> > AH>         a leading factor in its propaganda campaign of the early
> > AH>         1990s. The theme was amplified by SCIENCE, THE SCIENTIST,
> > AH>         60 MINUTES, and THE NEW YORK TIMES, whose editors never
> > AH>         bothered to check the reliability of the ARL as a
> > AH>         objective source.
> >
> > As always, one man's "objective source" is another man's "biased
> > source".  We all have our own agendas, and we're certainly familiar
> > with yours.  I believe, Mr. Henderson, that we'd all be able to work
> > together for a common goal if you weren't so busy biting the hand that
> > feeds you.  I don't know of a single librarian that doesn't feel the
> > need for more funding for materials of all types, and the staff to
> > support their acquisition, storage, and access.  I also don't know of
> > a single librarian that doesn't regularly make pleas to the university
> > administration for greater funding and the reasons therefor.
>         First, I am not biting the hand that feeds me. I
>         have campaigned for better library funding for
>         quite a long time now. What puzzles me is the
>         number of contra librarians.
>         To address your point, can you can tell me the
>         official position on library overhead of the
>         Association of Research Libraries, the ACRL,
>         or the American Library Association?
>         Moreover, can you tell me why the ACRL standards
>         for college and university libraries no long offer
>         anything in the way of objective measures by which
>         to gauge whether a library is acceptable or not.
> > Just because librarians are taking advantage of new technologies to
> > obtain materials that researchers (and others) request doesn't mean
> > that if it were "the old world" instead of "the new world" we wouldn't
> > love to have more shelves filled with these items.
> >
> > AH>         The same sort of peer review that serves editors
> > AH>         supports approvals of academic research grants now
> > AH>         in the tens of billions of dollars with huge
> > AH>         overhead allowances going to profitability.
> >
> > AH>         It is pitiful.
> >
> > I know you're really convinced of this "profitability" in academia.
> > Profitability in the business world can produce fortunes for top
> > executives and profits for shareholders, as well as income for the
> > employees.
> >
>         I credit Thorsten Veblen with identifying the
>         problem. He pointed out that the university "is a
>         corporation with large funds, and for men biased by
>         their workaday training in business affairs it comes
>         as a matter of course to rate the university in terms
>         of investment and turnover." [The Higher Learning in
>         America. 1918; reprint 1993 p. 62] Similar
>         observations were set out by Robert Nisbet and Edward
>         Shils. I have gone to financial statements and
>         statistics for evidence (easily found). Clearly
>         knowledge has lost priority to money.
> > If that profitability were present in academia, the same should hold
> > true for the university.  Those of us who are employees get income for
> > doing our job.  There are no shareholders as such.  The top university
> > administrators certainly make six figure salaries, but I've not read
> > of any of them being taken away in handcuffs because they've diverted
> > funds to their million dollar mansions, bought any private jets, or
> > had interest free loans of tens of millions of dollars.
>         See my article in SCHOLARLY PUBLISHING [Wiley 2002.
>         p 8] for profit and spending trends 1970-1995.
> > AH>         I have made a point of the ratio of
> > AH>         interlibrary borrowing to total numbers of volumes,
> > AH>         something that I call COLLECTION FAILURE QUOTIENT,
> > AH>         but very little about acquisitions spending.
> >
> > That number will continue to increase as the amount of publishing
> > increases, and as the prices of those publication continue to increase
> > faster than almost any other component of the economy.
>         Publishing activity increases with the growth
>         of spending on academic R&D. Why doesn't library
>         spending keep up? Are libraries part of research,
>         or not?!
> Albert Henderson
> <>