Impact factors, Colossus and the Wakefield retraction.

(Graphs from The Independent (London), 21 June 2008)

Today was one of those days where lots of interesting stuff turns up. On the BBC, there was 2 very good pieces about the flaws in the scientific process, specifically closed peer review and impact factors.

I also notice that the BBC are running a daily piece about the history of computing in the UK this week, parts one and two have already been published. Today’s article about Colossus is especially good.

Also, after last week’s excellent, and damning, judgement from the GMC –

– regarding Andrew Wakefield’s reprehensible behaviour in his research into the ‘link’ between MMR and autism, today The Lancet finally pulled the paper in which his findings were published 12 years ago. Wakefield et al (1998) (doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(97)11096-0) has now been retracted from the public record after the Lancet concluded that the claims made by the researchers were ‘false’ ( – apologies for paywall).


I know these are dooooooom laden times, but seriously BBC, get a grip.

Funding ends, jobs may go shock.

Look, in academia, funding is finite. Sometimes grants end, and people can’t be redeployed. This happens all the time. It’s not national news. Stories like this should not end up in my feed reader.

I think that the media has a lot to answer for as regards the current ‘crisis’. They talked it up so much that it is going to be a lot deeper as a result of the panic they have induced. Stories like this are indicative of the pot-stirring they delight in, and help nobody.