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What constitutes a legitimate peer-reviewed article for discussion?

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cmb
#1
Feb5-12, 05:48 AM
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This is a bounce-out from a thread about 'opinions' [ http://physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=574371 ]


Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
We determine whether or not a journal is allowed if it is on the Thomson Reuters journal list whose citation reports (things like H-indexes) determine the validity of a journal.
OK, so on this list is "INTERPRETATION-A JOURNAL OF BIBLE AND THEOLOGY"

The topic of the month in this Journal is the place religion plays in climate change;

"The subject of this issue of Interpretation is climate change. It is arguably the most important theological and ethical issue of our time, overshadowing all others—war, hunger, poverty, racism—because it affects all others. Yet, public and political denial continues. The religious community ought to be in the forefront of a movement to address climate change"

Anyone fancy discussing this? No, I'm not pushing the subject (!), my point is that this isn't really a legitimate subject for discussion on PF, is it?

So the question is... how does PF decide if a peer-reviewed article is appropriate for discussion?.. or more to the point, how does a PF forum member know that they should not be discussing some matters [notwithstanding the list of banned subjects], before receiving a chastisement?
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Ryan_m_b
#2
Feb5-12, 06:18 AM
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Quote Quote by cmb View Post
OK, so on this list is "INTERPRETATION-A JOURNAL OF BIBLE AND THEOLOGY"
Is that a peer-reviewed science journal cmb? I think not. Not all academic journals are science journals.

Furthermore it is up to mentor discretion, if we think that a journal or article is not suited for PF we will not allow it. Our decision will be based on whether or not allowing the journal improves the quality of PF by leading to good-quality discussions.
cmb
#3
Feb5-12, 06:42 AM
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Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
Is that a peer-reviewed science journal cmb? I think not.
I guess not too. But I was just using the example to make the point that there must be some 'line' somewhere between that and 'Science'.

Where is the line? Is an 'engineering' journal 'science'? I'd have thought so, but...?

Is a 'philosophy' journal scientific? I'd say no, but there are occasional overlaps with maths. It is a PF topic area, all the same. What's the difference between a sensible discussion on philosophy and a sensible discussion on religion?

Are 'social sciences' sciences? I recall an interview with Feynman who condemned social science as being no such thing. I'll side with Feynman!


Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
.. it is up to mentor discretion, if we think that a journal or article is not suited for PF we will not allow it....
Fully accepted... OK, I have a suggestion for PF. My proposal is that we get an extra button next to 'new topic', which is a 'suggest a topic'. With this button, you write a usual post but it does not go up straight away. It is routed to the moderators, who will then determine if it is a suitable topic or not.

You might think folks won't use that button and would prefer not to be peer reviewed for their own posts. But I think that form of 'self-regulation' may work well and be used appropriately for 'borderline' topics - especially new news on, or around, banned topics.

I've no interest at all in wasting my time posting up something that is going to 'aggravate' the board and lead to a locked thread, and I am sure that's true for most here. But, frankly, it has been difficult to judge that sometimes. That button might help.

Just a suggestion...

Moonbear
#4
Feb5-12, 07:16 AM
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What constitutes a legitimate peer-reviewed article for discussion?

Just read the REST of the forum rules and you'll know which subjects are off limit. It's not that hard, so I don't know why you're making it difficult. Are you being intentionally obtuse?
cmb
#5
Feb5-12, 09:03 AM
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Quote Quote by Moonbear View Post
Just read the REST of the forum rules and you'll know which subjects are off limit. It's not that hard, so I don't know why you're making it difficult. Are you being intentionally obtuse?
Such a simplistic and unsophisticated answer (which serves to make the whole process sound 'objective') is the very point I am taking issue with.

OK, so I agree the rules cover 95% of posts here. Maybe more. But, y'know, I'm sure I am not alone in being more interested in the research of today that portents the science of tomorrow, rather than codification of solidified scientific knowledge. The latter can be pretty easily looked up elsewhere in any case, so I am interested in discussions of research of today that has not yet ossified into 'accepted wisdom'.

And, therein, is clearly a margin of subjectivity that others keep raising as a comment about PF. (This is just a follow-on thread off of other people's comments in two other threads.) Some of today's hypotheses and research will inevitably look a bit flakey, compared with 'institutionally' accepted science with 100 years of rigour behind it.

And, Yes.. [sigh] I can read which subjects are banned [/sigh]. That's why I wrote '[notwithstanding the list of banned subjects]' in my opening post.

I'm talking about the means of discriminating which subject areas are 'new and/or acceptably debatable science', and what isn't - or isn't even science.
Ryan_m_b
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Feb5-12, 09:24 AM
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Quote Quote by cmb View Post
Where is the line? Is an 'engineering' journal 'science'? I'd have thought so, but...?
Yes engineering is science. Even if the issue for discussion specifically wasn't it could be discussed in the engineering forums.
Quote Quote by cmb View Post
Is a 'philosophy' journal scientific? I'd say no, but there are occasional overlaps with maths.
No philosophy is not science (though science is philosophy). If someone wants a discussion on philosophy they can do so in the philosophy forum. Overlaps with maths i.e. symbolic logical can go in either the maths or philosophy forums depending on which they are more suited to.
Quote Quote by cmb View Post
It is a PF topic area, all the same. What's the difference between a sensible discussion on philosophy and a sensible discussion on religion?
The difference between philosophy and religion is that philosophy deals with ways of thinking and working things out whereas religion is a series of faith based beliefs about the universe enshrined as dogma. Discussions of religion can take place in places like the philosophy, politics and general discussion forum so long as they are talking about the effects of religion and not the veracity (we have no interest in having discussions of the validity of religion at PF).
Quote Quote by cmb View Post
Are 'social sciences' sciences? I recall an interview with Feynman who condemned social science as being no such thing. I'll side with Feynman!
Weren't you arguing against appeals to authority earlier? Purely based on this statement (i.e. without knowing the context) I disagree with Feynman. The social sciences are not "hard" sciences i.e. they are notoriously hard to gather data and build predictive models for (unlike the natural sciences) but they still use the scientific method. If you want to discuss a social sciences issue and have a relevant peer-reviewed source to discuss you can do so in the social sciences forum.
Quote Quote by cmb View Post
Fully accepted... OK, I have a suggestion for PF. My proposal is that we get an extra button next to 'new topic', which is a 'suggest a topic'. With this button, you write a usual post but it does not go up straight away. It is routed to the moderators, who will then determine if it is a suitable topic or not.
I don't think this will work because A) the majority of posters will not use it and B) of those that do use it it creates unnecessary work for the mentors. We expect members to be able to tell for themselves what is acceptable or not by employing some common sense and an understanding of the rules. If you think the issue is borderline then think carefully about it.
Quote Quote by cmb View Post
OK, so I agree the rules cover 95% of posts here. Maybe more. But, y'know, I'm sure I am not alone in being more interested in the research of today that portents the science of tomorrow, rather than codification of solidified scientific knowledge. The latter can be pretty easily looked up elsewhere in any case, so I am interested in discussions of research of today that has not yet ossified into 'accepted wisdom'.
I do not agree with these definitions of science consensus. This is a false dichotomy; there is no "speculative science of tomorrow" vs "accepted solidified knowledge". The science of tomorrow has its foundations in the science of today, there really are no topics suitable for discussion that you couldn't find information for in the scientific literature. Interstellar travel? Molecular nanotechnology? Artificial intelligence? Energy production? All of these things have legitimate science already looking into them. If you want to talk about the "science of tomorrow" then find the papers of today. It is trivial to read recent scientific books and articles (especially review articles) that not only report on the current most up-to-date knowledge but also suggest and explore the potential capabilities and use of the technology in the future.
Quote Quote by cmb View Post
I'm talking about the means of discriminating which subject areas are 'new and/or acceptably debatable science', and what isn't - or isn't even science.
Here is some advice which is what I do when faced with research that is outside of my field. Do some research around the topic, read other papers that are similar. Google all the key terms and read as much as you can about it. Take a look at the journal itself, find out any citation scores and especially read other papers in it (if the journal also publishes papers positively asserting psychic research, ghosts and UFOs you can tell it's not going to be credible). Lastly if something is too good to be true it probably is and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence; if a paper sounds really outlandish then it probably is. From that you should be able to get a decent simple understanding from which you can make a judgement about whether or not it is pseudo-science or science.
Moonbear
#7
Feb5-12, 09:52 AM
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Quote Quote by cmb View Post
Such a simplistic and unsophisticated answer (which serves to make the whole process sound 'objective') is the very point I am taking issue with.

OK, so I agree the rules cover 95% of posts here. Maybe more. But, y'know, I'm sure I am not alone in being more interested in the research of today that portents the science of tomorrow, rather than codification of solidified scientific knowledge. The latter can be pretty easily looked up elsewhere in any case, so I am interested in discussions of research of today that has not yet ossified into 'accepted wisdom'.

And, therein, is clearly a margin of subjectivity that others keep raising as a comment about PF. (This is just a follow-on thread off of other people's comments in two other threads.) Some of today's hypotheses and research will inevitably look a bit flakey, compared with 'institutionally' accepted science with 100 years of rigour behind it.

And, Yes.. [sigh] I can read which subjects are banned [/sigh]. That's why I wrote '[notwithstanding the list of banned subjects]' in my opening post.

I'm talking about the means of discriminating which subject areas are 'new and/or acceptably debatable science', and what isn't - or isn't even science.
Such a long-winded answer that adds nothing further to the discussion. If you want to learn more about science that is not yet published, attend the scientific conferences where it is discussed by people whose credentials you can verify. If PF doesn't allow you to discuss what you want to discuss, nobody has your browser locked to this site.

If you read the banned subjects list, then why were you prattling on about whether or not a religious studies journal would be acceptable? It's not that hard to understand for any reasonably intelligent person. It's quite straight forward. If it's not on the list of subjects prohibited, and it is in a peer-reviewed journal indexed in he source listed, it's acceptable to discussed. If you truly found a subject in the gray areas of the rules, PM a mentor and ask if it's okay or not (and give them some time to consult with other staff before responding).
Redbelly98
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Feb5-12, 10:16 AM
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Quote Quote by cmb View Post
OK, so I agree the rules cover 95% of posts here. Maybe more.
And to cover the remaining 5% (maybe less) would require a list of rules many times longer than what we already have.
But, y'know, I'm sure I am not alone in being more interested in the research of today that portents the science of tomorrow, rather than codification of solidified scientific knowledge. The latter can be pretty easily looked up elsewhere in any case, so I am interested in discussions of research of today that has not yet ossified into 'accepted wisdom'.
I think it's been made pretty clear that PF is not intended for that. You're welcome to go and pursue those interests, just not on this forum. Meanwhile, many people do find value in discussing and learning about established science, math, and technology. That's what our forum is all about. You can say it's all easily looked up, but a lot of the time you can understand something a lot better by discussion with others and getting answers to specific questions.
jtbell
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Feb5-12, 01:54 PM
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Quote Quote by cmb View Post
I'm sure I am not alone in being more interested in the research of today that portents the science of tomorrow, rather than codification of solidified scientific knowledge. The latter can be pretty easily looked up elsewhere in any case, so I am interested in discussions of research of today that has not yet ossified into 'accepted wisdom'.
Quote Quote by Redbelly98 View Post
I think it's been made pretty clear that PF is not intended for that.
Most of what gets published in peer-reviewed journals is not "solidified scientific knowledge." Lots of stuff that gets published turns out to be a dead end or incorrect, based on further research by other people or even the original authors themselves.

We don't have any problem with discussing the latest ideas or theories, so long as they are actually part of current professional scientific discourse. In most fields, the litmus test is publication in a peer-reviewed journal, which means that someone has reviewed it and decided that it's not obviously wrong, and might make a solid contribution to current discussion. In some fields, we do allow for things posted on arxiv.org which is not peer-reviewed, at the discretion of a mentor who knows the field.

What we do have a problem with is trying to invent your own theories, or discussing something that's published only on a personal website or blog or book published outside of normal scientific channels.
cmb
#10
Feb5-12, 02:36 PM
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Quote Quote by Moonbear View Post
why were you prattling on about whether or not a religious studies journal would be acceptable?.
[I'll delete my response to that question. I generally understand the PF position, I think. I don't think it is a useful debate to perpetuate.]
Ryan_m_b
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Feb5-12, 03:10 PM
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Quote Quote by cmb View Post
[I'll delete my response to that question. I generally understand the PF position, I think. I don't think it is a useful debate to perpetuate.]
I saw your response before you deleted it and wanted to respond to a specific point. You mentioned that part of the problem was that I had not precisely laid out all the criteria for credibility (your example being that whilst I referred you to the Thomson Reuters list I did not specifically indicate that I was referring to the science journals only). There are two reasons for this:

1) With all communication there is an assumed level of implication an inference. Whilst I did not specifically mention science journals vs any academic journal I assumed that the context of the forum we are having the discussion on would imply for you to infer that I was talking about science articles only.

2) If we were to construct a precise list of all the faculties that make something credible we would be working for a very long time, some of the points wouldn't be agreed on by all and inevitably something would come along that was an exception to all our rules. No our determination of what is credible is not via a strict metric but such a thing is not possible. Ideally we would determine if something is credible by performing peer-review on every source but that is obviously not possible. What we do instead is ascertain credible source by factors like appearing on the Reuters list, examining other publications in the journal and where possible the content itself.
cmb
#12
Feb5-12, 03:32 PM
P: 628
I was merely indicating that I thought the list you mentioned was [nominally] a list of scientific journals (not just a hodgepodge of all subjects). I've no issue with having been further informed on this, and disabused of that mistaken understanding. I was saying it merely to directly answer the question posed by MoonBear. I don't think there was any need for him/her to use the work 'prattling', but it was clearly provocative and I was foolish enough to take the bait... then thought better of it.

Anyhow, if I may back out of the debate gracefully at this stage as I have now made my suggestion for avoiding any need for mentors to perform an endless amount of work to clarify what is or is not 'PF-able'. It is exactly to avoid any need for you to devise precise lists that I suggested an extra button for posters to ask for an impromptu peer-review of something they think may be borderline for PF sensibilities... But that seems to have gone down like a lead balloon, so I'll not be labouring the idea.


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