James Smith

Wiki Contributions


You can now apply to EA Funds anytime! (LTFF & EAIF only)

Thanks a lot, this is useful context. I work in academia so the large lead times are relevant, particularly because other 'traditional' funders would require applications well in advance. It would  be useful to know whether it was necessary to pursue those other funding routes as a 'career hedge' or not, for example, via a commitment to funding. 

I am interested to hear if anyone from LTFF agrees/disagrees with Max's assessment in these circumstances. 

You can now apply to EA Funds anytime! (LTFF & EAIF only)

Is it possible to apply for a grant when the date you would want the funds is quite far in advance (say, for example, one year)? 

Why scientific research is less effective in producing value than it could be: a mapping

A couple of other new publication models that might be worth looking at are  discussed here (Octopus and hypergraph, both of which are modular).  Also this recent article about 'publomics' might have interesting ideas.  Happy to talk about any of this if you are thinking about doing something in the space. 

Why scientific research is less effective in producing value than it could be: a mapping

A system somewhat similar to what you are talking about exists. Pubpeer, for example, is a place where post-publication peer reviews of papers are posted publicly (https://pubpeer.com/static/about). I'm not sure at this stage how much it is used, but in principle it allows you to see criticism on any article. 

Scite.ai is also relevant - it uses AI to try and say whether citations of an article are positive or negative. I don't know about its accuracy. 

Neither of these address the problem of what happens if a study fails to replicate - often what happens is that the original study continues to be cited more than the replication effort.

Why scientific research is less effective in producing value than it could be: a mapping

That view seems reasonable to me and I agree that a clearer analysis would be useful. 

An additional and very minor point I missed out from my comment is that I'm sceptical that the relationship between impact factor and retraction (original paper here) is causal. It seems very likely to me that something like "number of views of articles" would be a confounder, and it is not adjusted for as far as I can tell. I'm not totally sure that is the part of the article that you were referring to when citing this, so apologies if not!

Why scientific research is less effective in producing value than it could be: a mapping

Thanks a lot for writing this post. I'm interested in these topics and was just thinking the other day that a write up of this sort would be valuable. 

A relevant and fairly detailed write-up (not mine) of this problem area and how meta-research might help  is available here: https://lets-fund.org/better-science/ (I didn't see it cited but may have missed it).

In terms of the content of the post, a couple of things that I might push back on a little: 

  1. Peer review: I’m not sure that poor peer review (of papers) is a major cause of ineffective value production (though I agree that it is a minor contributor). By the time a project is written up as a paper, it will invariably be published somewhere in the literature in roughly the format that it was first submitted. If top journals had better peer review (but other journals did not), the research would likely be published elsewhere anyway. Basically it strikes me as too late in the process to be that important. Poor methodology (which I would attribute largely to lack of training and the incentives to rush research) seems more important . Lack of peer review at an appropriate time in the research process (i.e. before the research is done to get feedback on methods) also seems more important than the quality of peer review of the final paper (which is what i understood the section on peer review to be describing).
  2. Intellectual property: this seems mostly relevant to a smallish subset of research that is directly involved in making products. Even in those cases, it isn’t clear that IP is a big barrier. In fact, it can be argued that not patenting is better for development of products in some cases, because it allows multiple commercialisation attempts in parallel with slightly different aims. For an example of this in the context of drug development, see here: https://www.thesgc.org/. The basic idea is that if e.g. a molecule is not patented when it is initially described, you can still patent the use of that molecule for a particular indication, so the molecule can still be commercialised for that indication, while another organisation may pursue the same molecule for another indication. This potentially increases rather than decreases the potential for commercialisation of the molecule. 

I'd be interested in learning what projects you have planned and discussing some solutions to the problems that you have mapped. I'm quite involved in the reproducible research community in the UK (particularly in Oxford, https://ox.ukrn.org/people/#JamesSmith) so perhaps could be helpful. 

Non-pharmaceutical interventions in pandemic preparedness and response

Thanks a lot for sharing this. I need to update the post to add this and other research that has been pointed out to me. 

Non-pharmaceutical interventions in pandemic preparedness and response

For future searching, where/how did you come across that paper? 

Non-pharmaceutical interventions in pandemic preparedness and response

Good find - thanks for sharing that paper which I hadn't included.  If I update the post I'll add that. 

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