Blogging’s First Academic Paper

By Neuroskeptic | November 8, 2012 5:40 pm

In an historic achievement, I can announce that I have become (to my knowledge) the first blogger ever to publish in a peer-reviewed academic journal under a blogging pseudonym.

Skeptic, N. (2012) The Nine Circles of Scientific Hell Perspectives on Psychological Science 7 (6) 643-644

This is based on a post from two years ago (far and away the most popular post I’ve ever done).

Now as historic achievements go, this is fairly niche, but I do think it’s important.

Most of the problems with the way science works today are problems of communication. We’re trying to do 21st century work with a 19th century publishing model, and the cracks are showing.

Academic papers are a fine way of presenting the final results of research – they’re here to stay. But scientists ought to be communicating (with each other and with the public) in many other ways as well, and I think that anything we can do to break down the hegemony of the ‘final paper’ – whether it be blogging, arxiv, the Open Science Framework or raw data sharing – is a step forward.

In that regard, I think it’s great that the boundaries between ‘real’ papers and alternative forms of scientific communication have just become a little blurrier.

The piece appears in a special issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science full to bursting with other papers that readers of this blog are likely to find interesting… and it’s all free to access (at least for now).

ResearchBlogging.orgNeuroskeptic (2012). The Nine Circles of Scientific Hell Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7 (6), 643-644 DOI: 10.1177/1745691612459519

CATEGORIZED UNDER: blogging, FixingScience, funny, papers
  • Zen Faulkes

    Nicely done.

    My onlt concern is how many people will cite the paper as “Skeptic (2012)” versus “Neuroskeptic (2012)”.

    Oooh, you could become the first pseudonym to have an ORCID number!

  • sapphoq

    Wonderful achievement! Impressive!

    -SpikedUp Frog from Twitter

  • Giuseppe Alessandro Veltri

    Deeply impressed, congrats.

  • Anonymous

    Just read it. Nice. But didn't the guy who invented Bitcoin also publish a paper under a (less frank) pseudonym. Hm, maybe it wasn't in a proper journal.

  • Anonymous

    I think it's great that you got your blog post published in an academic journal, but it's a shame that it was published under the “Neuro Sceptic” pseudonym. Is there any argument for the use of a pseudonym in scientific publications especially if it's not used consistently (I'm assuming that if/when you publish other things these are published under your real name)?

    In the interest of transparency, I think scientific publications should be linked to the name of the author unless there are exceptional circumstances (the link to the blog post could have easily been established in a footnote or in the acknowledgements). I know there are some precedents for publishing under a pseudonym (“Student” may be the best known example), but I hope that that this does not catch on. It's one thing to post or comment on blog posts anonymously (I'm doing so here myself), but, in general, I see no advantage for it in scientific publications and plenty of potential issues.

  • DS


    Nice! Congrats!

    I worry as well about publishing under a pseudonym. Certainly, to society at large, there are positive and negative aspects of doing so.

    Will it be necessary to create some kind of check-and-balance to prevent anonymous authors from running from a bad reputation by simply changing their pseudonym? While the system of the future could be constructed in such a way that evaluation of scientific works would be independent of the author I am concerned that such a system could be wasteful. Should authors with reputations for deception be weeded out of the evaluation system early on rather than wasting on them whatever resources are ultimately used in this evaluation process?

  • Michelle Dawson

    “I think scientific publications should be linked to the name of the author”

    Willing to be argued out of it, but for now I agree, maybe even more so when those publications involve research with humans.

    I have no way to check whether Skeptic N has papers or grants (or patents or problems with research misconduct or…) under his/her real name.

    Scientists blogging pseudonymously about science in their field is fine (so is citing these blogs in the literature)–provided they stick to one pseudonym and are very careful about COIs. But with pseudonyms, there is no way to check.

    The standards should be higher in the literature. Scientists do publish, sometimes, under more than one name (name change due to marriage) but this is always checkable; you can connect the names together.

    A pseudonym isn't checkable, it is like publishing papers under two different names without letting on how the two are connected.

    I thought one point of ORCID is to be able to easily find out what-all any individual author has done. This seems important. Does ORCID allow individuals to have several ORCID numbers?

    I can understand pseudonyms in the literature in exceptional circumstances, but not otherwise.

  • EJ

    Congrats on the paper, it makes me laugh out loud every time I read it. I don't have any objection against publishing under a pseudonym, by the way. For certain academic contributions there needs to be accountability, but surely not for the present one!


  • Anonymous

    It seems that “E.J.” is one of the editors of the special issue and if that's the case, it's hardly surprising that he's OK with pseudonymous publishing (he's partly responsible for this case). Of course accountability can be higher for some contributions than for others (although the assessment of how much accountability is required for a given contribution could vary between people and over time). Pseudonymous publishing always reduces transparency and as such I can't see why an editor would support it unless there are exceptional circumstances that would outweigh the reduction in transparency.

    What purpose does the present case of pseudonymous publishing serve other than to allow the author to claim a dubious “historic achievement”?

  • CAPB


    I'm not sure why people are concerned about publishing under a pseudonym, given the nature of the publication? Is it a good idea to keep the blog separate from official academic publications so that it won't start appearing in h-indices and other metrics? In any case, I think it's a legitimate choice.

    Academics occasionally publish under pseudonyms – in psychology, Beryl Curt (a collective, not a person of that name) comes to mind, and I'm sure there are others.

    Anyway, nice work!

  • Bobbie

    Dear Neuro Skeptic,
    You do know, I assume, that you were not my first… but in some ways, you are my only.
    Er… I mean, not the first author I've published by under a pseudonym but so far the only under a blogging name.
    For the neuro skeptic skeptics who ask why…
    (1) because they were all fun articles, didn't have any methods to check, or data to be authenticated — though they do all raise provocative points, and
    (2) because sometimes we forget, especially these days with all the worries about replicability and fraud, that science is also supposed to be FUN.

  • Eric Charles

    Many congrats!

    I am not against pseudonym publishing or even anonymous publishing (which is really more like what happened with Gosset). If you have a stable identity under that name, which can be verified, I don't understand what the fuss is about.

    I understand that other people might want to be able to connect all aspects of your life together… but that sounds like their problem… not your problem, or the publisher's problem.

    Frankly, I can think of many reasons someone might want to keep a blog identity separate from their real-life identity, and given how well known the original post was, any semblance on anonymity would be blown. I don't know why that would be the case here, but in principle it should be the authors choice… to phrase that differently, I would happily claim ownership of this blog if it was mine and would even encourage you all to start rumors that its me 😉 (Which, by the way, is also what I would say if it was me, so you can't be too sure.)

    At any rate, the Awesomeness Factor alone seems a good enough reason to publish under the blog identity.

    Another first in the ever-changing landscape of publications!

  • Michelle Dawson

    In fairness, one of my favourite all-time papers has pseudonymous authors.

    On the other hand it was part of the traditional BMJ Christmas issue. There were some helpful hints about the authors' real identities (and a contest!). And no one wrote that the pseudonymous authors were historic or a step forward for science or whatever.

  • Ivana Fulli MD


    This is not a prank: neuroskeptic is talented with words and has a gentle -most of the time- talent for irony but he doesn't take what he writes lightly.

    He works hard to make neuroscience sexy to the laypeople and to improvethe quality of it.

    PS: As an autistic researcher, of course, I trust you not to have been ironic!

  • Ivana Fulli MD


    Please, do not get to my throat, I agree that neuroskeptic is a genius- at least for the 97% of perspiration and I will add at least 1% of imagination on a Nobel prize scale.

    I would need to read his scientific publication to get an idea about the last 2%!



  • ALRawi


  • Anonymous

    This is quite cool, congratulations!

    But I can't help to see some irony in the 'hooray a blog post is re-posted in a journal'. Would there be any better way of acknowledging the 'hegemony of the final paper'?

  • scicurious

    Congratulations! But I have to say I am SO jealous. I wanted to crack this one. But I still call the journal of Medical Hypotheses!

  • Neuroskeptic

    Thanks everyone!

    scicurious: You can be the first to publish in Nature!

    Anonymous: Hm. Fair point. But I see it as being like the barbarians sacking Rome – they respected Rome, enough to want to sack it, but they ended its hegemony 😉

  • The Neurocritic

    Congratulations! You do know, however, that Dr. Arina K. Bones is a consulting editor at Perspectives on Psychological Science (not that this had anything at all to do with the publication of your paper).

    Here's her website at the University of Darache, Monte Carlo, Monaco.

    Her best-known publication?

    We Knew the Future All Along Scientific Hypothesizing is Much More Accurate Than Other Forms of Precognition—A Satire in One Part. Perspectives on Psychological Science May 2012 vol. 7 no. 3 307-309. doi: 10.1177/1745691612441216

    Check out her other publications!

  • Anonymous

    There worst kind of Hell is when you so crave attention you leave a link to your blog in the comments section of someone else's

  • Neuroskeptic

    That kind of behavior gets you sent to Blogging Hell, the most terrible hell of all. You are condemned to read and comment on every blog post ever written… the only way out is to convincingly win an argument on the internet. No-one has ever escaped.

  • MichiF

    Although I like the idea of sharing more via new media, i do have the fear that this will lead to an overflow of information and data, giving little way to channel it in a productive way/direction.
    Giving that there is an abundance of rather useless blogs out there, the risk of having a comparable situation in scientific communication because there is no good structure, weights way higher imho.
    Maybe some day… but there is still a long way to go (and by that i do not mean content-wise).



No brain. No gain.

About Neuroskeptic

Neuroskeptic is a British neuroscientist who takes a skeptical look at his own field, and beyond. His blog offers a look at the latest developments in neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology through a critical lens.


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