A scientist / journalist shares his story of a sting operation on the scientific publishing process with frightening results.
An interesting sting was done on scientific publishing to show how remarkably easy it is to get published despite doing a poor research project (in this case on purpose). John Bohannon, a PhD chemist and science journalist, was contracted to do a documentary for German television on the poor research in nutrition that produces outlandish claims about diet and dietary supplements. They conspired to create a research study intended to produce fantastic results, and see how often their poor research would get called out through the entire publishing process.
The study had a terrible sample size, poor quality control, and zero peer review. They managed to produce factually correct results that made an outlandish claim, write it up, get it published (with their choice of venues as many offered to pick it up), and get it splashed into the media with virtually no challenge to their methodology. It was picked up by several noteworthy outlets and on track to get picked up by Men’s Health magazine, but no doubt John’s confession of the sting will forestall that.
I know that WUWT is primarily concerned with CAGW, but I thought this was an interesting peek into the terrible state of the scientific publishing process, and the media’s inability to hold scientists accountable.