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Fractional Quantifier Prefixes (sub-multiples of ten) Used in Chemistry for Units of Measure such as Mass, Moles, Volume, and Time

Use and Misuse of Published Literature

Immeasurable value of the science literature resides in its use to reveal what is knowable. A complex "garden of knowledge," the literature is designed to be continually cultivated, grown, harvested, digested, and seeded. In the absence of care, its fruits wither and rot. Neglected and ignored, its vast facts lay strewn about – otherwise capable of revealing much – but in the end, telling nothing.

Science is built up with facts, as a house is with stones. But a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house.

[La Science et l’Hypothese (1908), Jules Henri Poincaré (1854–1912), French mathematician, physicist, philosopher of science; excerpted from The Columbia World of Quotations (1996), quote #44785]

The discussions offered here focus on the immense value – and pitfalls – of the often underutilized published literature. One notable, real-world example of mining the published literature to a gain higher-level synthesis of knowledge is the systematic, ongoing review of randomized controlled medical trials (RCTs) performed by the Cochrane Collaboration.

"Literature Forensics?  Door to What Was Known but Now Forgotten" (by C.G. Daughton) [PDF, 110 KB]

For further discussions on "Literature Forensics", also see:
(i) "Literature Forensics: Navigating Through Flotsam, Jetsam, and Lagan,"
by C.G. Daughton
[The Scientist 2002, 16(4),12 (Feb. 18)]
available: http://www.the-scientist.com/yr2002/feb/opin_020218.html 
(ii) "The Disregard Syndrome: A Menace to Honest Science?" by Isaac Ginsburg
[The Scientist 2001, 15(24), 51 (Dec. 10)]
available: http://www.the-scientist.com/yr2001/dec/opin_011210.html (access requires free registration)  
(iii) "Demand Citation Vigilance" by Eugene Garfield
[The Scientist 2002, 16(2), 6 (Jan 21)]
available: http://www.the-scientist.com/yr2002/jan/comm_020121.html
(iv) "A Case for Reviews" by W.R. (Bill) Klemm
[The Scientist 2002, 16(9), 13 (Apr 29)]
available: http://www.the-scientist.com/yr2002/apr/let2_020429.html (access requires free registration)  
(v) "Do Not Disregard" by Ramon M. Fusaro
[The Scientist 2003, 17(15), 11 (28 July)]
available: http://www.the-scientist.com/yr2003/jul/letters3_030728.html

Case Study: "Literature Forensics and Life or Death"
"Johns Hopkins’ Tragedy: Could Librarians Have Prevented a Death?" (by Eva Perkins, Information Today, 7 August 2001):
http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb010806-1.htm
"The Blame Game" (by Barbara Quint, Searcher, October 2001, 9[9], 6-9):
http://www.infotoday.com/searcher/oct01/voice.htm

Case Study: Lesson in the critical importance of verifying primary sources

[On 27 September 2002, major world print and telecast news sources reported on a purported WHO genetic study that forecasted the human gene for blonde hair would eventually become extinct (from the selective pressure of mimicry). Below is one of the many first reports that failed to check the primary source, as well as a follow-up corrective story and the correction that the WHO had to publish]
"Blondes 'to die out in 200 years'" (BBC News, 27 September 2002)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2284783.stm
"Clarification of erroneous news reports indicating WHO genetic research on hair colour" (World Health Organization, 2 October 2002)
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/statements/statement05/en/

"Lazy Citing"
"Copied Citations Create Renowned Papers?" (M.V. Simkin and V.P. Roychowdhury, 8 May 2003) ) [PDF, size not available, 3 pp.]
"Copied citations give impact factors a boost" (Tom Clarke, Nature 2003, 423:373)
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v423/n6938/full/423373a.html
"Paper trail reveals references go unread by citing authors" (Philip Ball, Nature 2002, 420:594)
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v420/n6916/full/420594a.html

"Selective Reporting/Citing"
"Evidence b(i)ased medicine—selective reporting from studies sponsored by
pharmaceutical industry: review of studies in new drug applications" (H. Melander, J. Ahlqvist-Rastad, G. Meijer, B. Beermann, BMJ 2003, 326:1171-1173 [31 May])
http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/326/7400/1171%20

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