[open-science] Fame, glory and neglect in meta-analyses

Ross Mounce ross.mounce at gmail.com
Mon Aug 15 23:38:19 UTC 2011

Forgive me if you only see this as tangentially-related to Open Science,
but in my opinion, the proper accreditation of data providers (via
citation or some other value-metric) is integral to the feasibility &
promotion of free and Open data sharing. I don't know how well
citation works outside of Biological Sciences, but I can tell you from
my own observations that it is a BIG problem in a lot of Biology

*justification over*

I thought it might be good to alert you all to this publication:

Kueffer et al (2011) Fame, glory and neglect in meta-analyses. TrEE

They make some great points that I've informally made before (e.g.
DryadUK meeting, at the BL, April 1st 2011) and that no doubt many
others have also noticed - that the data sources used in
meta-analytical papers often don't get counted by 'services' such as
ISI Web of Science, therefore those original data providers receive no
credit for this additional usage of their data. Papers looking across
say 15 other studies will likely give *proper* ISI-counted citations,
whereas those looking across 100 will most likely not, for reasons of

The same problem often occurs with citations buried in electronic
supplementary materials.
Nature warn their authors about this problem:

"Please note that we do not encourage deposition of references within
SI as they will not be live links and will not contribute towards
citation measures for the papers concerned."

...but yet in virtually all papers I look at with SI there are
references therein:

e.g. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature09181
or http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature09704   (I could easily find 1000+
examples across many different journals that allow electronic SI)

Not a good situation!

This new paper is a welcome contribution (if slightly blinkered to the
true far larger scale and scope of this problem, restricting
themselves to just ecological meta-analyses) to raising awareness of
this problem and hopefully changing citation culture so that
researchers get credit, where credit is due.

Is this within the remit / related to Open Science? I hope so...
Is there anything that can be done from the publisher side of things?
It seems like this paper is perhaps unfairly putting the burden of
responsibility on the authors of meta-analyses, rather than on
publishers who I imagine could easily (surely?) let ISI count ESM/SI
citations. Why does this issue even exist in 2011 (the Digitial



Ross Mounce
PhD Student
Fossils, Phylogeny and Macroevolution Research Group
University of Bath
4 South Building, Lab 1.07

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