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Survey says scientists mistrust a large amount of published research

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The average researcher reads less than 6 research articles a week

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A survey that asked researchers to rate the trustworthiness of the studies and other “research outputs” they had come across in the past week has found that 37 per cent considered half or fewer of these to be trustworthy.

Out of those surveyed, 25 per cent said exaggerated findings, a lack of detail, and poor conclusions make research outputs untrustworthy. “There’s always someone trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Within your own field this can be easier to detect, but it’s less easy to determine when scouting subjects that you are less familiar with,” a materials scientist in the UK told the survey.

Other factors cited as diminishing the trustworthiness of research included a lack of rigorous peer review, methodological issues such as study design flaws and a lack of reproducibility or generalisability, and bias stemming from the peer review process, sources of funding, and the pressure to publish.

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The survey was conducted by Elsevier, a large publishing company that runs many scientific journals, in collaboration with the UK campaign group Sense About Science. It polled 3,133 researchers from around the world in May, and found that, on average, scientists spend just over four hours hunting for research articles a week, and more than five hours reading them.

The average researcher reads five or six articles a week and considers half of them to be useful.

When asked about public confidence in research evidence, 49 per cent of respondents said the misinterpretation of research outcomes in media, policy or public discussion was a large problem. 41 per cent said an increasing availability of low-quality research was a big issue, while 33 per cent said deliberate misrepresentation of research findings by researchers or their institutions was a major problem.

More than a quarter of respondents (28 per cent) told the survey that too much information is available to the public.

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YouTube adds liaison to help it communicate with creators

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Susan Wojcicki, chief executive officer of YouTube.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

YouTube has hired a liaison to act as an in-between for the people who make content for the platform.

Matt Kovalakides has been promoted as the company’s new “head creator liaison” role at the company. Kovalakides first joined the company in 2012 as a content strategist after he was a YouTube creator himself. A former filmmaker, he created short, scripted comedies under his YouTube name “Matt Koval,” which garnered more than 100,000 subscribers.

In the new role, Kovalakikes will advocate for creators internally while defending the company to creators by explaining the platforms “complexities” and “scale,” according to YouTube. He’ll engage publicly through social media, blog posts, videos and in-person at creator events, the company said, adding it’s heard creators like to get their information about YouTube from different mediums.

“[The] Goal is to help creators understand YouTube, and vice versa,” Kovalakikes tweeted Monday. “Complicated stuff on both sides.”

The new role comes as Google-owned YouTube has endured several conflicts with creators this year, with some complaining about harassment and hate speech, and others arguing that the platform’s rules about removing advertisements — a process called “demonetization” — are random and poorly explained. Some content creators, who count on ads as their main source of revenue, were enraged in September after some received emails suggesting they would lose their verification status on YouTube.

“Spent years as a @YouTube creator, and then years as a YouTube employee,” Kovalakides tweeted. “There are challenges on both sides that each often don’t understand. My new job is to try and improve that understanding.”

Last year YouTube hired a number of strategic partnership managers to act as liaisons to political publications. YouTube declined to answer questions about Kovalakikes’ reporting structure, only saying that he is a part of YouTube’s editorial team.

The role is similar to Danny Sullivan’s role for Google’s search team. Sullivan was a leading journalist covering the search industry for many years, and joined Google as its Search Liaison in 2017 to help the company handle relationships with outsiders who have questions about how Google ranks search results.

YouTube broke out ad revenue numbers for the first time in its fourth quarter earlier this month. YouTube ads generated $15.15 billion in revenue in fiscal 2019, with $4.72 billion generated in the fourth quarter alone.

Watch now: The rise of deepfakes and what Facebook, Twitter and Google are doing to protect them



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Interactive science at East End

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WILMINGTON — At East End’s recent Science Night, activities gave students opportunities to deepen their learning of science concepts through problem solving, questioning and engagement.

Families were invited to come to East End after school to enjoy a meal and then to rotate through different science stations that were set up in the gym.

The stations were led by high school science students and fifth-grade teachers.

This opportunity was possible because of a grant that East End received from the Wilmington Schools Foundation.







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MSU researchers invent significant advancement in Hopkinson bar technology

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Mississippi State and REL personnel hold the MSU-developed serpentine bar technology, a significant advancement in Hopkinson bar systems. Pictured, from left, is MSU Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems Associate Director Hongjoo Rhee, REL Co-owner Adam Loukus, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Haitham El Kadiri, REL Engineer Luke Luskin, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Wilburn Whittington, REL President Josh Loukus, mechanical engineering doctoral student Trey Leonard of Madison, Alabama, and mechanical engineering undergraduate student Billy Zhang of Starkville. (Submitted photo)

Contact: James Carskadon

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University researchers have patented and licensed a major advancement in split Hopkinson pressure bar technology, significantly reducing the amount of space needed for intermediate and high-strain rate testing.

While conducting research on infant head trauma, researchers at MSU’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems needed a way to conduct impact testing with biological materials. While a traditional Hopkinson bar system, an apparatus commonly used for testing impact and strain on materials, would have worked, it would have taken up hundreds of feet in length—space that was not available at the bustling research center. However, CAVS engineer Wilburn Whittington, with the support of colleagues Haitham El Kadiri and Hongjoo Rhee, was able to prototype a serpentine bar that can accomplish the same task in only 20 feet of space.

Whittington is an assistant professor in MSU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. El Kadiri is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and holds the Coleman-Whiteside Professorship. Rhee is an associate professor at the same department and is an associate director at CAVS.

“We’ve already used this product in our work for the military, national labs, and automotive companies,” said Whittington. “This has tremendous potential for universities and laboratories, as well as any company making materials or looking at crash testing and other tests like that.”

After the research team patented the new technology, it gained interest from the scientific community and REL, a Michigan-based manufacturer that makes and sells Hopkinson bar systems. Working with MSU’s Office of Technology Management, El Kadiri, Rhee and Whittington were able to license the serpentine bar technology to REL, which began marketing the product this week at The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society annual conference in San Diego, California.

Whittington said the serpentine bar can be used as a new product and also used to enhance old products, making shorter Hopkinson bar systems capable of conducting tests that previously required significantly more space. He noted that in labs that conduct high-speed tests with radioactive materials, these materials must be handled in specialized rooms, which puts space at a premium.

“People test things like explosives and armor on these systems,” Whittington said. “Like with biological materials, these labs have to be specialized, so a serpentine bar gives them more testing abilities.”

El Kadiri, Rhee, and Whittington were able to commercialize their invention through a Mississippi University Research Agreement, which allowed them to form a private company to market the technology, Standard Dynamics, LLC. In addition to showcasing the technology in San Diego this week, MSU and REL personnel will highlight the serpentine bar at the Society of Experimental Mechanics annual conference this summer in Orlando, Florida.

For more on CAVS, visit www.cavs.msstate.edu.

For more on the Office of Technology Management, visit www.otm.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.



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