Publication bias

PLoS has an article taking an economist’s look at the publication process for pharmacological studies. The paper offers some potential remedies:

Potential Competing or Complementary Options and Solutions for Scientific Publication

  1. Accept the current system as having evolved to be the optimal solution to complex and competing problems.
  2. Promote rapid, digital publication of all articles that contain no flaws, irrespective of perceived “importance”.
  3. Adopt preferred publication of negative over positive results; require very demanding reproducibility criteria before publishing positive results.
  4. Select articles for publication in highly visible venues based on the quality of study methods, their rigorous implementation, and astute interpretation, irrespective of results.
  5. Adopt formal post-publication downward adjustment of claims of papers published in prestigious journals.
  6. Modify current practice to elevate and incorporate more expansive data to accompany print articles or to be accessible in attractive formats associated with high-quality journals: combine the “magazine” and “archive” roles of journals.
  7. Promote critical reviews, digests, and summaries of the large amounts of biomedical data now generated.
  8. Offer disincentives to herding and incentives for truly independent, novel, or heuristic scientific work.
  9. Recognise explicitly and respond to the branding role of journal publication in career development and funding decisions.
  10. Modulate publication practices based on empirical research, which might address correlates of long-term successful outcomes (such as reproducibility, applicability, opening new avenues) of published papers.