Have scientific achievements declined? – Slash Dot

Have scientific achievements declined?  – Slash Dot

Some researchers say we’ve seen a decline in devastating new discoveries. But we may be entering the golden age of applied sciences. From a report: The year 2023 had barely begun, when scientists received some shocking news. On January 4, a paper appeared in the journal Nature claiming that alarming scientific findings have been declining since 1945. Scientists took this as an insult. The New York Times interpreted the study to mean that scientists don’t produce many “real breakthroughs,” “intellectual leaps,” or “groundbreaking discoveries.” This seems contradictory when every year brings a new set of exciting results. In the 12 months since that paper, scientists have heard about close encounters between supermassive black holes, demonstrated the power of new weight-loss drugs, and brought to market life-changing gene therapies for sickle cell disease.

What the authors of the January paper measured was a changing pattern in the way papers were cited. They created a disruption index that measures the extent to which a score represents a break with the past. More disruptive papers will be cited in many future papers, while previous research in the same field will be cited less frequently – perhaps because they are outdated. They found that this pattern had been declining for decades. One of the authors, Russell Funk of the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, said they wanted to measure how the new findings shift attention away from old ways of doing things.

“Science certainly benefits from cumulative work and studies that come in and refine our existing ideas,” he said. “But it also benefits from shaking up every now and then.” We are seeing fewer tremors now. Funk said he thinks it’s a matter of finance agents taking too little risk. But others say it may just reflect changes in the way scholars cite each other’s work. The scientists I spoke to said that researchers cite papers for many reasons—including as a way to curry favor with colleagues, mentors, or advisors. Research on techniques receives a disproportionate number of citations, as do review articles, because it is easier to cite them than to go back to the original discoveries. Funk acknowledged that citations in research papers are “noisy data,” but there is a lot of it — millions of papers — and such data can reveal interesting trends. However, he agreed that people should not confuse disruption with importance. He gave the example of LIGO (Laser Gravitational-Wave Observatory), which caused a sensation in 2016 by detecting gravitational waves, which Einstein had long predicted. By definition, it was not subversive.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *