Nature poll on career advancement and article metrics

May 06 2010 Published by under Careerism, Conduct of Science, Tenure, Tribe of Science

A tweet from @NatureNews alerts to a poll they are running.

Is your career advancement tied to article metrics? What else are administrators looking at? Take our poll http://bit.ly/b9Hib9 Please RT!

I feel confident that my readership would like to have its viewpoint included.
The weirdest thing I noticed about it is that they have options for "Assistant Professor" and "Professor" but no "Associate Professor" on the job title question. Just sloppy? or does Britland academia lack that step?
Actually I noticed that they fail to mention any IRB oversight as well. Since they state they intend to publish the results of the survey this seems an error.

8 responses so far

  • Pascale says:

    How the hell are they going to publish something like this, other than on their web site?
    In which case, IRB oversight is unnecessary (as it is when DrugMonkey runs a poll and then blogs the results). Even if they were approaching a defined population and planning to publish results IRL as a journal article, choosing to take the survey is voluntary and is generally sufficient "consent" for most IRBs.

  • Dan says:

    I believe that British academia tends to be Lecturer (=Assistant Prof in the US), Senior Lecturer (=Associate Prof in the US), Associate Professor (=Professor in the US), and Professor (=Prof with a named chair in the US). At least, it definitely is that way in Ireland, which is very closely modeled on the British system.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Pascale,
    first page of the survey indicates they intend to publish in the "news section of Nature", which I assume means for print.
    The point here, as always, is not whether an IRB should require a full protocol approval process for dumb web polls or even slightly more involved surveys. The point is who makes that decision.
    It is my position that individuals / entities that are involved in academic research that requires IRB / IACUC oversight are ethically obligated to seek a ruling from their IRB. Not necessarily an approved protocol, but a ruling on whether one is required for a given activity.
    Hopefully, as in my case, the response is a quick "no, we're not bothering with that". But just because one individual gets a ruling from her IRB, this doesn't make everyone else doing the same thing exempt. Just as one lab's approved protocol does not permit a lab halfway across the country to do the same without local approvals.

  • neurolover says:

    "It is my position that individuals / entities that are involved in academic research that requires IRB / IACUC oversight are ethically obligated to seek a ruling from their IRB."
    But Nature is not an entity that's involved in academic research. They're a media outlet. I think they may run into a question of IRB approval if they were planning on publishing the article as a journal article (in their scientific article section). I don't see any issue with IRB if they publish it as a news article.
    Isn't there a scary story out here of a French reality show that ran a version of the Milgram experiment? Something should stop TV producers from doing that, but it's not the regulations about IRBs & scientific institutions.
    Another related question is that status of the investigator. There's a psychologist who ran into IRB problems because she decided to do some journalism. Her IRB decided that her status (as a researcher) meant that research standards applied. This in turn got the journalists & anthropologists & others worried about IRB approvals.
    The issues remain unresolved. But, a newspaper/magazine/tv show is pretty free to do human experiments without approval now, I think.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Publishing the research is "involved" neurolover. The point is that they operate in a world that comes with certain professional obligations and commitments that cannot be conveniently forgotten just because there is a gap in *requirements*.
    I view this in the same vein as the first (or was it second?) strike against Charles Nemeroff. Dude failed to disclose serious conflicts of interest for a review article pumping some psychotherapeutics. His defense was that the journal in question didn't *require* disclosure. Yet he was Editor in Chief at the time of a journal which did require such disclosures and a member of the Journal's society which had disclosure rules.
    I think commitment to an ethical principle should be something a little more than doing only what you are absolutely required to do.
    NPG is a big publisher, they can bloody well afford to convene an IRB.....

  • DK says:

    The poll is retarded. "Thinking about all of the possible measures of scientific contribution that are possible, which of these are most important?". Option: "getting along well with colleagues".

  • becca says:

    DM, you want them to convene an IRB to tell them they don't need to bother with one?
    If you really think it's hazardous for the participants (which is the type of concern that is the *point* of an IRB, right???) then why on earth are you linking to it?! Aren't you then complicit in or even condoning/endorsing the unethical research?

  • Alex says:

    So, here's a question: Newspapers often report all sorts of polls by all sorts of organizations. I suspect (but do not know for certain) that most of the big polling organizations have an IRB or some sort of equivalent process in place, but I would be less than shocked if some of the polls reported in newspapers do not have an IRB approval.
    Now, let's say that we, as academics, decide for whatever reason that we would like to cite a newspaper report. Maybe we want to open an article on public health with some statement about public conce3rn in an issue. Maybe we want to contrast research findings with popular press accounts. Maybe we're writing about higher level issues of academia (e.g. teaching, careers, student success) and we want to talk about the public's attitude as well as the established literature. Whatever. Bottom line, something's in the newspaper and we want to cite it.
    Are we under an obligation to see if the polling organization went through an IRB?
    Tangent: I know a guy who has administrative responsibility for an fMRI. He was complaining about the IRB. I suggested that get IRB approval for a study where IRB members are scanned while reviewing applications to see what is going on in their brains. The goal is to create some sort of infinite loop.

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