The Importance of Publishing Replication Studies in Academic Journals

September 1, 2014

The article titled Why Psychologists’ Food Fight Matters on Slate discusses the issue of the lack of replication studies published in academic journals. In most cases, journals are looking for new information, exciting information, which will draw in their readers. While that is only to be expected, it can also cause huge problems in scientific method. Replication studies are important because science is built on laws. If a study cannot be replicated, then it’s finding should not be taken for granted. The article states,

“Since journal publications are valuable academic currency, researchers—especially those early in their careers—have strong incentives to conduct original work rather than to replicate the findings of others. Replication efforts that do happen but fail to find the expected effect are usually filed away rather than published. That makes the scientific record look more robust and complete than it is—a phenomenon known as the “file drawer problem.””

When scientists have an incentive to get positive results from a study, and little to no incentive to do replication studies, the results are obvious. Manipulation of data occurs, and few replication studies are completed. This also means that when the rare replication study is done, and refutes the positive finding, the scientist responsible for the false positive is a scapegoat for a much larger problem. The article suggests that academic journals encouraging more replication studies would assuage this problem.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 01, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

A New Look for Computerworld.com

August 29, 2014

You are familiar with Computerworld, and you may visit the Computerworld.com Web site. The emulators and name surfers somewhere in the IDG Enterprise combine wants more eyeballs. That’s why I saw this news story from the professionals at Marketwired. Note: Not “marketwire.”

The title? “Computerworld.com Integrates Responsive Design Technology and functionality Enhancements in Site Relaunch.” The “real” news story reports:

The award-winning site incorporates responsive design technology to create a universal experience by scaling editorial and advertising content to the user’s screen size, whether they are accessing Computerworld.com with a smartphone, tablet or desktop.

I thought that blog themes like those readily available for WordPress, Joomla, and other content frameworks did the responsive thing automatically. The notion of “responsive design” is getting bright lights at “the leading enterprise technology media company”, however.

I suppose on a slow news day or when an IDC unit cannot publish my information without my permission or the other impedimenta that marks professional behavior, the crackerjack experts at IDG have to dig deep and gut through the really tough news. The story reports:

The editorial voice, content and design of Computerworld.com remains unique to the brand, while functionality has been aligned across IDG Enterprise sites including back-end capabilities enhancing search functionality and digital asset management for displaying more images and video content. The reader experience is further enhanced by large more legible type and fully integrated social media tools. Ads and promotional units are highlighted in a “deconstructed” right rail optimizing effectiveness and native advertising will be threaded intuitively throughout the site.

From whence does the content come from? Well, here’s an example of how IDG maintains its alleged “leading” position:

“Computerworld.com is well known for its superb tech news. What may be less obvious to website visitors is all the other great content Computerworld serves up for senior technology leaders,” said Scot Finnie, editor in chief, Computerworld.

Interesting since the consulting outfit bandied my name about like a tennis ball between mid 2012 and mid July 2014 without fooling around with contracts, sales reports, edit cycles, etc.

Now what about Computerworld.com? Today’s Computerworld.com has 64 objects on the home page, uses 30 images, and expects my wonderful Windows phone to render a page that is a svelte 1656946 bytes. Ooops. Don’t forget that the images pumped to me today total 1612438 bytes. You can see a report by navigating to www.websiteoptimization.com.

Fascinating news about the responsive design innovation. I am surprised that IDG elected to share this secret to online success. Is it possible that Computerworld.com invented responsive design following in the impressive footsteps of Al Gore’s Internet system and method?

Well, as long as revenues rise, the long slog to responsive design will have been worth it.

Stephen E Arnold, August 29, 2014

Inflation: How Professional Publishing Companies Cope

August 18, 2014

I saw a Twitter message at http://bit.ly/1qI2Uow. Here is the image I noted:

image

I then saw by happenstance another post on Imgur, a source with which I am not familiar:

image

I wonder if there is a relationship between these two items. I wish I were a student so I could help the publishers deal with the rising cost of paper, shipping, etc. I also wish I could be on a faculty or a library board so I could vote for more expensive peer reviewed journals and more databases of content produced by professors and researchers. Note: I do not want to be a professor or researcher. I think the pay for scholarly output is not as good as working in some other occupations; for example, professional publishing management at Springer, Elsevier, Wiley. Of course, these data may be bogus. If true, I find them suggestive.

Stephen E Arnold, August 18, 2014

No Search Or Publishing For Science

July 30, 2014

The scientific method is used to approach a problem logically and come to reasonable conclusion based off the presented evidence. Allow me to present the following question: if only a small percentage of scientists publish their work, does that not distort scientific information? Let us approach this problem in the same manner that Erik Stokstad did in his Science Magazine article “The 1% Of Scientific Publishing.”

Stokstad already knew it was tough to get published in a scientific journal, but his findings were that one percent of scientists actually see their work published on a continuous basis and that equals 150,608 people. The number comes from a study done by John Ioannidis of Stanford University when he and colleagues searched Elsevier’s Scopus database of papers published in 1996-2001. Most of these scientists head laboratories, thusly adding their name to every research project or they have garnered enough of a reputation to do whatever they want in the scientific community.

What is sad is that new minds are often overlooked:

“But there’s also a lot of grunt work behind these papers that appear like clockwork from highly productive labs. ‘In many disciplines, doctoral students may be enrolled in high numbers, offering a cheap workforce,’ Ioannidis and his co-authors write in their paper. These students may spend years on research that yields, then, only one or a few papers. ‘[I]n these cases, the research system may be exploiting the work of millions of young scientists.’ ”

Based on the findings, it leads to the conclusion that only a small percentage of scientific research is available. The results are distorted and favor one side of the scale. It is an aggravating thought, especially with digital publishing. You would think that with the infinite amount of digital space that publishers would not be worried about the paper copies anymore.

Whitney Grace, July 30, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

The Future of Journalism Linked to Content Management Systems

July 17, 2014

The article titled Scoop: A Glimpse Into the NYTimes CMS on the New York Times Blog discusses the importance of Content Management Systems (CMS) for the future of journalism. Recently, journalist Ezra Klein reportedly left The Washington Post for Vox Media largely for Vox’s preferable CMS. The NYT has its own CMS called Scoop, described in the article,

“…It is a system for managing content and publishing data so that other applications can render the content across our platforms. This separation of functions gives development teams at The Times the freedom to build solutions on top of that data independently, allowing us to move faster than if Scoop were one monolithic system. For example, our commenting platform and recommendations engine integrate with Scoop but remain separate applications.”

So it does seem that there is some wheel reinventing going on at the NYT. The article outlines the major changes that Scoop has undergone in the past few years, with live article editing that sounds like Google Docs, tagging, notifications, and simplified processes for the addition of photographs multimedia. While there is some debate about where Scoop stands on the list of Content Management Systems, the Times certainly has invested in it for the long haul.

Chelsea Kerwin, July 17, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Searching News: More and More Difficult

July 10, 2014

An outfit called the Washington Examiner printed “Censorship: 38 Journalism Groups Slam Obama’s Politically-Driven Suppression of News.’” Stories that talk about censorship are difficult to peg on the white board of online information. True, I have noticed that certain documents once easily findable in www.usa.gov have been increasingly difficult to locate. My touchstone example is information about the US government’s RAC, MIC, and ZPIC programs to combat alleged Medicare non compliance. I have stumbled across other examples when querying the Department of Energy’s Web site with routine queries I used when DOE was a cheerleader for the Autonomy IDOL search system.

The “Politically Driven” article is somewhat different. The angle is that “real journalists”—presumably not the type of professionals working at entities like IDC—are not able to get information. The terms “media coverage” and “limiting access to top officials” make it clear that “real” journalists have some gripes; namely:

  • Officials blocking reporters’ requests to talk to specific staff people.
  • Excessive delays in answering interview requests that stretch past reporters’ deadlines.
  • Officials conveying information “on background” — refusing to give reporters what should be public information unless they agree not to say who is speaking.
  • Federal agencies blackballing reporters who write critically of them.

The article points to a “survey” in which “40 percent of public affairs officers admitted they blocked certain reporters because they did not like what they wrote.” Yep, a survey, similar to those cited by some consultancies to “prove” that something is really, really true.

The article concludes with a rousing call to action:

SPJ’s Cuillier told Secrets, “I feel this excessive message management and information control are caused by the professionalization of PR in the bureaucracy — in all levels of government.” And, he added, “It is up to journalists — and citizens — to push back against this force. Hard!”

I find this an interesting statement. What does “push back” mean? If I put on my semantic analysis hat, I can list possible meanings for “push back.”

The point is that news is shaped, sometimes gently, sometimes firmly. In order to determine what is accurate, one must work quite hard. The notion that an individual can ferret out specifics of a particular event by gaining easy access, walking halls, or just showing up flies in the face of my experience.

I have learned that misinformation, disinformation, and reformation are the common currency of professionals today. Forget the problem with US government bureaucracies. These operations survive changes in administration, budget shifts, and policy changes.

Focus instead on individuals who take information, put their name on it, reshape it, and use it to further a narrow agenda. I emphasize in my lectures for the intelligence community that figuring out what is “accurate” is getting more and more difficult.

We are in the grip of a cultural shift in information. Recent examples that make the magnitude of the “accuracy” challenge may be found in these examples:

ITEM: A Google executive dies and is described as a family man as a factoid in an article about a heroin overdose, a person of alleged ill repute, and a yacht. See “Did She Kill Before?

ITEM: A fellow with a fascinating work history puts his name on work done by the ArnoldIT team, sells it for $3,500 a whack on Amazon, and ignores my requests for payment. The person appears to be David Schubmehl, employed by the consulting and publishing firm IDC. Here’s the Amazon listing for my work with my name and that of two of my researchers. Seems just fine, right? I find this shaping of my information interesting because I have not given permission for this material to be sold on Amazon. But who cares about a 70 year old getting trampled by the “real” professionals?

ITEM: WN.com search results for th3 query “Brazil Riots 2014.” A lack of information about the events after Brazil’s loss in Rio flies in the face of the alleged robberies and police actions. See http://wn.com/brazil_riots_2014. Where’s the information, WN.com.

Net net: Anyone who wants accurate information has to work the old fashioned way. Interviews, research, reading, and compilation of factoids from various sources. I am not sure a fuzzy “push back” will have much impact in our present information environment.

For short cuts, one can ask a reporter on the US government beat, the editor at WN.com, or the very, very happy David Schubmehl, research director, where he analyzes the future and surfs on my team’s research.

Exciting times when “real” pros want easy access, a hop over the negative, and a free ride to expertise.

Stephen E Arnold, July 10, 2014

Two Recent Charts Illustrate the Decline of Newspapers

July 10, 2014

To help us visualize the plight of the papers, Gigaom shares “Everything You Need to Know About the Future of Newspapers in in These Two Charts.” Writer Mathew Ingram shares two graphs based on 2013 data that show no signs of hope for the beleaguered industry. The first, created by University of Michigan economics professor Mark Perry and based on figures from the Newspaper Association of America, shows print-based advertising revenue falling by more than 70 percent since 2000. When digital and other advertising is included, the fall is only slightly less dire. Ingram likes to call this line graph the “cliff of despair.”

The second graph looks at usage and ad spending across different types of media, and was pulled from a presentation by KPCB partner and analyst Mary Meeker. The article explains:

“[This chart] contrasts the amount of time that users spend on a specific form of media — mobile, print, TV etc. — with the share of advertising spending that is devoted to that platform. Last year, print got just 5 percent of the overall time spent on media, but it pulled in almost 20 percent of the overall advertising revenue…. Meeker’s chart is an updated version of an earlier one, and the share of time spent that is devoted to print has (not surprisingly) continued to decline over the past couple of years…. But while the amount of advertising dollars devoted to it has also continued to fall, there is still a dramatic gap. And it is matched by the exact opposite gap on the other side of the chart, where time spent on mobile is 20 percent and share of advertising spend is just 4 percent.”

These trajectories may seem obvious, but Ingram points to evidence that senior staff at some publications still need to be prodded into this century. He closes with a suggestion: “If you work at a newspaper, post these charts in your staff room.”

Cynthia Murrell, July 10, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Amazon May Be Disintermediating Publishers: Maybe Good News for Authors?

July 9, 2014

Update: A person asked me who is the IDC “expert.”  The answer is David Schubmehl. His picture on LinkedIn shows him as a very, very happy individual. My photograph shows a quite annoyed 70 year old individual. Whenever I think about this unauthorized reuse of my content now being sold on Amazon, my heart races and I fear the IDC matter is pushing me closer to the “narrow house.” Did William Cullen Bryant use another’s work in “Thanatopsis”? Stephen E Arnold, July 9, 2014 at 4 53 pm

I read “Amazon Angles to Attract Hachette’s Authors to Its Side.” The main point is that Amazon is pro content and anti at least one publisher. Here’s the passage I noted with considerable interest:

Amazon has proposed giving Hachette’s authors all the revenue from their e-book sales on Amazon as the parties continue to negotiate a new contract. Hachette’s response on Tuesday was to suggest that the retailer was trying to make it commit suicide.

Why am I pro Amazon? Well, two UK publishers stiffed me for books I wrote and they published. One annoying outfit is out of business. No loss, believe me. The other is still promoting the book and presumably selling the scintillating monograph called Successful Enterprise Search Management. More recently I reported that IDC, one of the numerous McKinsey / Bain / Boston Consulting chasers published my content under another person’s name. The “expert” whose knowledge derived in part from the work of me and my associates is marketed on Amazon at this link as of July 9,, 2014. Notice that the IDC “original work” carries the hefty price tag of $3,500. (Goodness, I was offered a job at IDC when I worked at Ziff Communications in New York. I passed. I was uncomfortable from the git go with this company.)

image

Verified, July 9, 2014 at Amazon.com. Search for Schubmehl Attivio or IDC Attivio.

I hope Amazon disintermediates any publisher, consulting firm, or knowledge outfit that does not issue contracts, honor copyright, and puts individuals like me in the unenviable position of having my expertise inflate that of another; specifically, an alleged expert named Dave Schubmehl, formerly from the vendor of multiple software written by third parties. I assume that’s what “ramp quickly” means. For more on the shuffle of my work under an IDC’s consultant see http://arnoldit.com/wordpress/wp-admin/post.php?post=40033&action=edit.

Publishers and trust, respect, and appropriate professional behavior in my experience do not go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Go, Amazon. Disintermediate these outfits. And I will gladly split any money from my work 50 50 with you. Amazon has earned my trust. The publishers who have treated me poorly have lost my trust.

Ronald Reagan was correct, “Trust but verify.”

Stephen E Arnold, July 9, 2014

Amazon Vs. Hachette And Indie Booksellers

July 3, 2014

The bookseller wars are getting nasty, says The Guardian in the article “Indie Booksellers Join Hachette’s Battle With Amazon.” Amazon and the book publisher Hachette have been at war for some time, but just recently has their conflict made headlines. Hachette is angry with Amazon, because the Internet retailer delayed delivery on over 5000 of its titles and removed the option to pre-order books by authors.
J.K. Rowling’s newest crime novel was removed from the pre-order option and she’s using her notoriety to garner support for Hachette. If the Harry Potter mogul was not enough, indie bookstores joined the battle. Their response is that they would never delay selling a book, because they were made at the publisher.

“Both sides in the dispute have released public statements on the issue, Hachette saying most recently that ‘we will spare no effort to resume normal business relations with Amazon – which has been a great partner for years – but under terms that value appropriately for the years ahead the author’s unique role in creating books, and the publisher’s role in editing, marketing, and distributing them, at the same time that it recognizes Amazon’s importance as a retailer and innovator”. Amazon, meanwhile, has said that “this business interruption affects a small percentage of Amazon’s demand-weighted units”, and that while “suppliers get to decide the terms under which they are willing to sell to a retailer … it’s reciprocally the right of a retailer to determine whether the terms on offer are acceptable and to stock items accordingly”.

Amazon is not without its supporters: mainly ebook readers and authors who like how Amazon has reshaped publishing. Both sides have a right to be angry, but does this cut down to a battle between the future and the past? Amazon is clearly a selling model for the future and indie booksellers are trying to save their livelihood. In the end, the money will win.

Whitney Grace, July 03, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Paying by the Page

July 2, 2014

“Pay as you go” is a service model that allows you the freedom to pay for the types of services you want to use when you want to you them. The idea is that it saves people time and money. Ola Sitarska introduces us to the concept that books can be applied to the pay as you go model in her blog post: “Experiment Results: Books In A ‘Pay As You Want’ Model.’” The book was published as part of her work at Makerland. Makerland is an open source company that teaches people how to code and use the Internet to their benefit. Their book, Makerland Tutorials, helps people understand basic Internet usage and navigate the many options to help them promote themselves.

Releasing the book as a “pay as you go” project was a complete experiment. They offered a downloadable PDF and a printed paper copy. They advertised is using regular channels: newsletter, blog post, Twitter, Reddit, and news Web sites. The PDF was more popular than the paper copy. The results for the PDF are below:

• “average book was worth $0.87

• 89 out of 490 people paid anything (18%)

• if we extract only people who paid anything, then we have average of $5 per book. median is also $5.

• the highest payment was $20, 4x paid average and 23x average. the lowest one was $0.99.

• we’ve got 4 mailinator emails (of course, they also didn’t pay)

I think this results make me happy. I know they might be better if we invest more time into promotion, but I like this two numbers: 18% of people who paid anything and almost 500 people who downloaded the book.”

For an experiment that relied on free advertising channels and with a minimal investment, the Makerland team as able to make a profit and learned how to improve the “pay as you go” book in the future. Will this be a new way people read books in the future? It is more plausible for non-fiction books than fiction, but why not? Why pay for a book that you don’t end up liking or reading?

Whitney Grace, July 02, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

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