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Kane 2023 Biol Lett

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Kane A, Amin B (2023) Amending the literature through version control. Biol Lett 19:20220463.

Β» PMID: 36651029 Open Access

Kane A, Amin B (2023) Biol Lett

Abstract: The ideal of self-correction in science is not well served by the current culture and system surrounding amendments to published literature. Here we describe our view of how amendments could and should work by drawing on the idea of an author-led version control system. We report a survey (n = 132) that highlights academics' dissatisfaction with the status quo and their support for such an alternative approach. Authors would include a link in their published manuscripts to an updatable website (e.g. a GitHub repository) that could be disseminated in the event of any amendment. Such a system is already in place for computer code and requires nothing but buy-in from the scientific community-a community that is already evolving towards open science frameworks. This would remove a number of frictions that discourage amendments leading to an improved scientific literature and a healthier academic climate.

β€’ Bioblast editor: Gnaiger E

Selected quotes

We, and many other academics, argue that the current model of scientific publication hinders the capacity for self-correction [1–3]. People make mistakes and the peer review system cannot catch them all [4–6]. Yet the number of steps involved in correcting previously published research acts to discourage what should be a straightforward process that is in the hands of the original authors [1,2].
Then there is the simple opportunity cost of dealing with relatively minor issues in a paper. Those that vex but are not worth the time and effort to correct [8], or instances where you have a new dataset that could supplement previous work but is not worth publishing separately.
The static face of academic publications is a holdover from times where print held sway, but the dynamic and reflective nature of the Internet is much more in keeping with how science should operate [12].
.. we suggest an X, Y, Z numbering system that follows best practice for version control through semantic versioning ( where X is a major additional analysis, Y is a minor additional analysis and Z is a correction.


Ambiguity crisis, Gentle Science