56 posts · 73,763 views
Mixture of reviews of science papers, personal views on academic matters, book reviews
Several UK universities explicitly use research funding as a criterion for hiring and firing scientists. I argue this is stupid because it damages (a) staff wellbeing, (b) the institution's reputation and (c) the progress of science. ... Read more »
This post is a commentary on a piece by Matthew Lieberman in Edge, in which he expresses concerns about the way in which researchers are undertaking replication studies. He argues that some people are making careers out of trying to disprove others, and in so doing are damaging science.
I argue that we need to develop a more mature understanding that the move towards more replication is not about making or breaking careers: it is about providing an opportunity to move science forward, improve o........ Read more »
Button, K., Ioannidis, J., Mokrysz, C., Nosek, B., Flint, J., Robinson, E., & Munafó, M. (2013) Power failure: why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 14(6), 442-442. DOI: 10.1038/nrn3502
Ioannidis, J. (2005) Contradicted and Initially Stronger Effects in Highly Cited Clinical Research. JAMA, 294(2), 218. DOI: 10.1001/jama.294.2.218
There is no agreed terminology for how to refer to children with unexplained language problems, and diagnostic criteria are inconsistently applied. This blogpost sets the background to a Special Issue of International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders where these issues are discussed. Views are invited via live Twitter debate or internet forum.... Read more »
Bishop, D. (2010) Which Neurodevelopmental Disorders Get Researched and Why?. PLoS ONE, 5(11). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015112
Bishop, D., Clark, B., Conti-Ramsden, G., Norbury, C., & Snowling, M. (2012) RALLI: An internet campaign for raising awareness of language learning impairments. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 28(3), 259-262. DOI: 10.1177/0265659012459467
NIMH has expressed dissatisfaction with psychiatric categories as embodied in DSM5 and is focused on a new approach that aims to understand mental illnesses in terms of genes and neural circuits. I have reservations about whether this approach will live up to expectations.... Read more »
McLaren, N. (2011) Cells, Circuits, and Syndromes: A Critical Commentary on the NIMH Research Domain Criteria Project. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 13(3), 229-236. DOI: 10.1891/1559-43184.108.40.206
Elliott and Grigorenko have argued that dyslexia is not a meaningful category, and that the label should be abandoned because it just leads to unfairness and woolly thinking. I put this debate into the wider context of psychiatric diagnosis and argue we need to consider not just scientific evidence, but also how labels affect our judgements of who is deserving of help, and who is responsible for giving it.... Read more »
Kendell, R., & Jablenskey, A. (2003) Distinguishing between the validity and utility of psychiatric diagnoses. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160(1), 4. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.160.1.4
Several studies have reported associations between the amount parents talk to their infants and subsequent language development. It is almost always assumed that this reflects a causal relationship and that children's language outcomes can be improved by encouraging parents to talk more to their babies and toddlers.
I argue here that other reasons for the association need to be considered. In particular, there is ample evidence that the association may in part reflect shared genetic risks........ Read more »
Caskey, Melinda, Stephens, Bonnie, Tucker, Richard, & Vohr, Betty. (2014) Adult talk in the NICU with preterm infants and developmental outcomes. Pediatrics. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2013-0104
Sixteen years ago, John Bruer questioned whether neuroscience had application to education. His words have not, however, been heeded, and
educational neuroscience has become a fashionable sub-specialty of neuroscience. I consider whether this is justified... Read more »
Bishop, D. V. M. (2013) Neuroscientific studies of intervention for language impairment in children: interpretive and methodological problems. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54(3), 247-259. DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12034
It's been estimated that as much as 85% of funded research is never published. Sometimes it doesn't get done because gremlins get in the way, but often completed research is still not written up. I discuss three reasons for this and suggest solutions that researchers, funders and journals could adopt.... Read more »
Chan, A., Song, F., Vickers, A., Jefferson, T., Dickersin, K., Gotzsche, P., Krumholz, H. M., Ghersi, D., & van der Worp, H. B. (2014) Increasing value and reducing waste: addressing inaccessible research. Lancet. info:/10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62296-5
Systematic reviews are a vital resource to ensure that new research takes into account what has gone before. They are, however, undervalued. ... Read more »
Chalmers, Iain, Bracken, Michael B., Djulbegovic, Ben, Garattini, Silvio, Grant, Jonathan, Gülmezoglu, A. Metin, Howells, David W., Ioannidis, John P. A., & Oliver, Sandy. (2014) How to increase value and reduce waste when research priorities are set. Lancet. info:/10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62229-1
UK universities are gearing up for REF2014, a nationwide evaluation of research quality, on the basis of which central funding will be determined. Before the funding formula is specified, we need a discussion about whether we should be focusing mainly on supporting elite institutions, or whether it would be preferable to distribute funds more widely.... Read more »
Fortin JM, & Currie DJ. (2013) Big Science vs. Little Science: How Scientific Impact Scales with Funding. PloS one, 8(6). PMID: 23840323
Yet another neuroscience study has been published with a misleading press release suggesting application to intervention in children with autism and related disorders. I argue that press releases should not mention a disorder unless the research involves that clinical group, and should put findings, rather than speculation, in headlines.... Read more »
Bishop, D. V. M. (2013) Cerebral asymmetry and language development: Cause, correlate, or consequence?. Science, 340(6138). DOI: 10.1126/science.1230531
The UK Government introduced a phonics screening test to be used with 6-year-olds in UK schools. Results for 2013 show higher levels of children doing well than in 2012. However, doubts about the accuracy of the data are raised by the weird distribution of scores, suggesting that teachers may have modified children's scores upward if they are close to the pass mark. ... Read more »
Butler, Susan R., Marsh, Herbert W., Sheppard, Marlene J., & Sheppard, John L. (1985) Seven-year longitudinal study of the early prediction of reading achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 349-361. DOI: 10.1037//0022-06220.127.116.119
The RALLI campaign was started in order to ensure that impartial, evidence-based information about language disorders in children was freely available on the internet.
An index of the videos and other materials generated over the past 18 months is provided here.... Read more »
Bishop, Dorothy V. M., Clark, Becky, Conti-Ramsden, Gina, Norbury, Courtenay Frazier, & Snowling, Margaret J. (2012) RALLI: An internet campaign for raising awareness of language learning impairments. Child Language Teaching , 28(3), 259-262. DOI: 10.1177/0265659012459467
Early career scientists often imagine that senior academics are able to spend much of their time doing research. The reality is that an increasing proportion of time is taken up with evaluation: reviewing papers and grants, writing references, examining theses, etc.... Read more »
Fogelholm, Mikael, Leppinen, Saara, Auvinen, Anssi, Raitanen, Jani, Nuutinen, Anu, & Väänänen, Kalervo. (2012) Panel discussion does not improve reliability of peer review for medical research grant proposals. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 65(1), 47-52. DOI: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2011.05.001
In July 2013, López-Barroso et al published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences claiming that structural and functional measures of the left arcuate fasciculus predicted word learning ability. I present a critique of this study, and of the media coverage of its implications... Read more »
López-Barroso D, Catani M, Ripollés P, Dell'acqua F, Rodríguez-Fornells A, & de Diego-Balaguer R. (2013) Word learning is mediated by the left arcuate fasciculus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(32), 13168-73. PMID: 23884655
There has been a chorus of disapproval this week at the suggestion that researchers should 'pre-register' their studies with journals and spell out in advance the methods and analyses that they plan to do. Those who wish to follow the debate should look at this critique by Sophie Scott, with associated comments, and the responses to it collated by Pete Etchells. They should also read the explanation of the pre-registration proposals and FAQ by Chris Chambers.
Quite simply, pre-regist........ Read more »
Munafo, M, & Flint, J. (2011) Dissecting the genetic architecture of human personality. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15(9), 395-400. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2011.07.007
A press release by Yale University Press Office claimed that "A new study of the genetic origins of dyslexia and other learning disabilities could allow for earlier diagnoses and more successful interventions, according to researchers at Yale School of Medicine. Many students now are not diagnosed until high school, at which point treatments are less effective." The account by the Press Office is hard to square with the abstract of the paper, which makes no mention of early diagnosis o........ Read more »
Powers, N., Eicher, J., Butter, F., Kong, Y., Miller, L., Ring, S., Mann, M., & Gruen, J. (2013) Alleles of a Polymorphic ETV6 Binding Site in DCDC2 Confer Risk of Reading and Language Impairment. The American Journal of Human Genetics. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2013.05.008
What should you do if you run an ANOVA and get a significant result you did not anticipate?
a) Describe this as my main effect of interest, revising my hypothesis to argue for a site-specific sex effect
b) Describe the result as an exploratory finding in need of replication
c) Ignore the result as it was not predicted and is likely to be a false positive
In this post I discuss how unexpected results are very likely to arise by chance, especially in designs with 3 or more factors. The scient........ Read more »
Guest post by Patrick Rabbitt, commenting on an article that claimed that simple reaction time is slower now than in the Victorian era. Mundane differences in equipment sensitivity may be responsible... Read more »
Michael A. Woodley, Jan te Nijenhuis, & Raegan Murphy. (2013) Were the Victorians cleverer than us? The decline in general intelligence estimated from a meta-analysis of the slowing of simple reaction time. Intelligence. info:/http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2013.04.006
I find the numbered (Vancouver) referencing system adopted by many journals very irritating, and I explain why.... Read more »
Clauss, M., Müller, D., & Codron, D. (2013) Source References and the Scientist's Mind-Map: Harvard vs. Vancouver Style. Journal of Scholarly Publishing, 44(3), 274-282. DOI: 10.3138/jsp.44.3.005
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