Impact measures, anti-science and ethics.

I remember something about saying impact measures and citation indexes have anti-scientific structures… at least if you think about science as a weapon against the status quo to improve mankind’s living conditions.
The idea of having shamans checking any research article against their standards to validate their inclusion in one of the Mount Olympus research journals could be stomach-churning from the epistemology of science point of view, and at least it smells old. This reminds me of the brilliant point of view of Andrew Spittle about the stupid constraint of printing PhD theses, especially when they are not inherently printable, for instance, those having to do with the Internet, like his, and mine, just to support an authority argument structure born in Middle Ages universities.
But there is a more powerful concern. Pardis Sabeti clarified for me any single doubt I could have in her amazing and inspiring Ted Talk ‘How we’ll fight the next deadly virus’. Let me cite several lines of this brilliant and inspiring talk (remember, she speaks about epidemic disease DNA medical research):

“But the way that science works, the position I was in at that point is, I had the data, and I could have worked in a silo for many, many months, analyzed the data carefully, slowly, submitted the paper for publication, gone through a few back-and-forths, and then finally when the paper came out, might release that data. That’s the way the status quo works.
Well, that was not going to work at this point, right? We had friends on the front lines and to us it was just obvious that what we needed is help, lots of help. So the first thing we did is, as soon as the sequences came off the machines, we published it to the web. We just released it to the whole world and said, “Help us.” And help came.
Before we knew it, we were being contacted from people all over, surprised to see the data out there and released. Some of the greatest viral trackers in the world were suddenly part of our community. We were working together in this virtual way, sharing, regular calls, communications, trying to follow the virus minute by minute, to see ways that we could stop it.”

Pardis Sabeti in How we’ll fight the next deadly virus’ Ted Talk.

Inspiring. Isn’t it?

Raúl Antón Cuadrado


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