For those of us interested in the scholarly journal literature, the recent piece in The Economist headed Publish and be Wrong, was particularly intriguing. The argument reported in the article is that of Neal Young, John Ioannidis and Omar Al-Ubaydli, writing in the Public Library of Science Medicine. "In economic theory the winner's curse refers to the idea that someone who places the winning bid in an auction may have paid too much." In the same way, with competition for space in the highest ranking journals, the winners could be those most likely to oversell themselves, it is argued. Or, are the editors of the world's most prestigious journals aware of the winner's curse and alert enough to its dangers to counteract them?
Dr Ioannidis is an epidemiologist who attracted attention three years ago for his suggestion that most published scientific research is wrong. Already, the issues have been taken up thoughtfully in Peter Suber's Open Access News, and a little more robustly by Stevan Harnad and others on the liblicense-l list, as well as by a cacophony of bloggers.