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The Tadpole Paper Mill (scienceintegritydigest.com)
51 points by sohkamyung 43 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 8 comments

While it's tempting to criticize the authors of the papers for having lax ethics, this quote gave me pause:

"[Paper mills] sell these papers to e.g. medical doctors in China who need to have a scientific paper published in an international journal in order to get their MD, but who do not have any time in their educational program to actually do research."

It's a typical case of unintended consequences. It probably seemed like a good idea to require prospective MDs to publish a paper in a scientific journal, but if the medical students don't have time to do the research, what are they supposed to do? Pay others to do the research for them? Maybe some believed that's what they did?

See also: The Cobra Effect, Mechanism Design



I'd rather be treated by a doctor who knows his craft than by a doctor who is an expert in LaTeX and citation tuning.

Part of what is astonishing here is the existence of a system that drives such gaming. It makes me wonder what the people who required a science publication were thinking. Were they naive or do they cynically disrespect scientific research?

It probably started out innocently enough with an idea that a doctor would benefit from having a bit of research experience, and that publication would be a quality metric. This is routine in the US for PhD education, and it looks like China simply applied the same idea to medical training. If anything, peer review might have been seen as an anti-fraud measure.

The article talks about the students not having time to conduct research. But being given a job and not enough time or money to do everything in the most desirable fashion is a widespread management style in both academia and business. There have been articles about medical students in the US not getting any sleep.

Those two things by themselves would not raise eyebrows in the US.

Where I went to grad school long ago, the psychology grad students had to publish a research paper en route to getting a clinical degree. They had a phrase, "published and outa here." I have no idea the quality of the work that got published, but the behavioral sciences are sitting on a "replication crisis" today, that predates China growing exponentially into the research space.

So I don't think it's a China problem.

So naive then. That's reassuring. I guess

In the life sciences, I feel like bioarxiv is the most useful publication medium. The very long publication times for journals is one factor, it is just too slow to be practical. The other is that preprints paradoxically are becoming higher quality than journal articles on average, because low quality or fake content is less likely to get submitted to bioarxiv (although this is going to change as bioarxiv becomes more legitimate).

this also ends up flooding our scientific research system with trash.

isn't this the marketplace of ideas??


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