Presentation on theme: "- x - = +: does the boycott backlash? Hervé Seligmann, Dept. of Evolution, Systematics & Ecology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem,"— Presentation transcript:
- x - = +: does the boycott backlash? Hervé Seligmann, Dept. of Evolution, Systematics & Ecology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
Quantitative analyses of scientific publication trends from different countries over the past 30 years, comparing different journals, reveal anomalies that frequently specifically involve Israel. “Control behavior” Anomalous behavior Science, PNAS (USA) Nature (UK) Biol J Linn Soc (UK) Evolution (USA) JAMA (USA) British Medical Journal Anomalies suggest that there were less publications from Israel than simple hypotheses predict
Numbers of publications from 35 countries in the ‘Lancet’ (UK) ( ) as a function of numbers in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM, USA) Data compiled from ISI (international Science Index, also called ‘Web of Science’)
From 1965 to 1999, there were 763 publications less from Israel in the ‘Lancet’ than would be expected from the proportionality between the two comparable journals, as observed for other countries. (Note that using JAMA instead of NEJM does not change qualitatively results) The datapoint for Israel represents 35% of all the variation that is NOT explained by the line. On average, a single datapoint/country is expected to account for 1/35 = 2.8% Israel’s ‘anomaly’ is 12.5 times larger than expected
Why? Do US-journals favor Israelis irrespective of scientific merits? Unlikely, because numbers in NEJM from Israel are clearly within the range of what can be expected considering the size and academic quality of the country (see Switzerland) Or does the ‘Lancet’, who publishes many papers critical of Israel, and are borderline relevant to the medical community, disfavor Israelis?
How? (1) Excluding collaborations between US-based groups and other countries, the overall picture remains similar: in these analyses, the Lancet lacks 703 articles from Israel Hence results are probably not due to US favoritism to publish and collaborate with Israelis
How? (2) Editorial bias cannot explain results, because editors changed frequently over 35 years. Are Israelis avoiding to submit to the ‘Lancet’? Maybe, but this is unlikely to create such strong numerical biases Are Israeli articles good enough for NEJM, but not for the ‘Lancet’? Very unlikely Are their articles too original, too novel to be accepted by a traditionally conservative journal, unrealistically assuming that the ‘Lancet is MUCH more conservative than NEJM?
None of the possibilities is likely to explain alone the large effects observed. Maybe all do, to some extent. And maybe, simply put, there has been a yearlong, unofficial boycott in the UK, since tens of years.
Same analysis, from Israel still has the largest negative discrepancy (123 less than expected), but this represents now only 10% of the unexplained variation, ‘only’ 3.5 times larger than the expected average amount of unexplained variation
Conclusions Unobjective scientific review disfavoring scientific output from Israel affects very significantly numbers of publications from Israel in some of the most important scientific and medical journals Numbers are such that this HAD to impede on concrete advances, including preventing curing people that could have been cured, and the development of this small country Quantitatively, unfair review might affect less Israel since the public calls for boycotting Israel Without these calls for a boycott, the extent of the ‘spontaneous’, unorganized boycotts (or various unscientific factors affecting Israel’s scientific output) would never have been detected