The blog reviewed here is ‘Citation Needed‘. The author is a neuroscientist who describes himself in the about section in more detail. Incidentally Yarkoni was one of the authors who published a response to Vul et al’s noted paper on fMRI (see review here).
Appearance and Design
The blog has a very simple but effective design with a white background throughout (i.e including the articles themselves). The headers and links in the articles are a light green. At the time of writing there were 10 articles on the front page. Having a lot of articles on each screen page is useful in some senses because it means that the reader can quickly and easily scan through multiple articles compared to blogs that display 1 or 2 articles per screen page. On the right hand side of the screen there are category clouds, a blogroll, RSS feeds, archives by month, a calendar and recent comments. There are also aesthetic images in a number of posts which complement the articles.
The blog is relatively young having started out with this post in October 2009. Yarkoni’s take on a Nature paper about peer reviewers quality of review declining with increasing age raises a number of interesting points. Firstly although I haven’t seen the methodology of the paper it seems counterintuitive that a reviewer’s reviews would get worse with increasing age. The assumption raised here was that with increasing age come more responsibilities and less time (and enthusiasm is hinted at) can be allocated to the reviewing process. These hypotheses thus suggest that the quality of a review is a function of motivation and time with the role of experience being unclear. The second point was that of qualitative versus quantitative methodology a debate which could extend into an entire book! Yarkoni writes this post on his research using Blogger and Twitter interfaces to acquire large datasets for use in research and this is certainly a very interesting idea. This is a very nice post and appeals to me because i’ve spent a bit of time looking into the original article and the discussion that took place. Essentially Yarkoni reexamines a response he wrote to Vul et al’s paper and discusses effect sizes. He explains this from the beginning and using depression in Clown’s as the focus for his argument helps the reader to the conclusion that effect sizes play a significant role in medical/psychological/social research. I think this is a very useful post for people who are new to this type of research or even those experienced in this. In this post, Yarkoni discusses the issue of publication of negative results and he has set up a website to publish negative studies in psychology. I think this is a great idea and could not only be extended to other areas such as medicine (where journals of negative trials are published) but could also be undertaken as a blog (i.e a blog of negative studies) and one can imagine how a series of such blogs might form a ‘conglomerate’. The file drawer number is a neat concept although as Yarkoni points out it becomes less useful when the findings in the published studies are less robust. This issue of negative studies is a tricky one to deal with but hopefully ideas such as Yarkoni’s can help to raise the standards of ‘shared’ scientific knowledge.
This blog by Yarkoni is relatively young but already has a number of very interesting articles and Yarkoni tackles important research issues. His writing is often humorous and his personality comes through very strongly in the writing which brings a human face to the very abstract theoretical subjects that are being dealt with. From these posts, Yarkoni appears to be a very accomplished communicator of science and I look forward to following his progress on the many interesting projects he has underway a number of which have benefits for wider communities.
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