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Publish or Perish Debate at WCAA

Together with Rainer Spanagel (Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim) and Henry Kranzler (University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine), Anton Bespalov took part in the „publish or perish“ debate during the World Congress on Alcohol and Alcoholism (Berlin, Sep 2-5, 2016). There were a range of issues discussed – from the efforts undertaken by journals to keep the IF high to predatory journal phenomenon. There is no doubt that publishing is important and not publishing means putting scientific career in danger and slowing down the scientific process.  A much more critical question is what should be published and when. First, there is a clear bias today towards publishing positive data and keeping negative data mostly in the drawers.  However, it is the negative data that are essential for the self-correcting nature of science and for the scientific progress. Second, selective publishing and limited efforts to repeat study results before attempting to publish is another major issue.  These unfortunately rather common practices start to take their toll on several areas of biomedical sciences. These problems seem to be understood (at least, by those who were presented during the debate) but so far have had only limited impact on the publication practices (as indicated by the presentations at this Congress that we have attended before and after the debate). Self-correcting nature of science may indeed require some external facilitating influence to enable the urgently needed changes.

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