Tuesday, 20.10.2020

Ken Gillman: Medical science publishing: A slow-motion train wreck

Barry Blackwell’s comment

 

       I read Ken Gillman’s essay on the parlous state of medical science publishing with mixed feelings. But with an H-index of 26 and more than 3,000 citations anything Ken says about anything is worth reading. I especially liked his literary style; the use of satire, hyperbole, metaphor, even Latin epigrams and unusual words, two of which tripped me up. “Agnoilogy” and “agnology” were not in my desk-top version of the Oxford English Dictionary. Even my spell check objected with red underlining. The closest OED came was “agnolotti” from an Italian root: “small filled pasta squares” – something to chew on?

       I was sad to notice medical science writing had reached a nadir if my alma mater, the once prestigious Maudsley Hospital in London, famous for its critical standards, had become “an appalling and disgraceful” example, notorious for inability to check the value or validity of references.

       It made me feel ashamed of my own 84-year-old inability to check the 30 references attached to his essay, although the fact it was previously published on his own website guaranteed they were pristine and granted me absolution.

       As Ken must know INHN has no editorial board (although we are contemplating appointing one as prelude to publishing books) and no reviewers – if there is anyone trustworthy left, paid or otherwise. I imagine Ken was attracted to us as an “open access” venue. But so far we have not established a post-publication capability to sort the wheat from the chaff as we lack resources for even that simple task.

       So we look forward to comments from INHN members with interest in this topic and time on their hands (unless tempus fugit) or, like many of us, they believe corporate corruption, academic complicity and conflicts of interest have spoiled the harvest with nothing left to garner.

     This is an erudite and well informed essay but, metaphorically speaking, it will have the impact of “slamming shut the stable door after the horse has bolted.”

 

September 5, 2019