Feeds

MS Word causes academic dust-up

Researchers RTFM, discover back-stabbers

High performance access to file storage

Microsoft Word is causing problems in the catty world of peer reviewing, which ensures research is properly carried out, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Academics are wising up to a relatively inconspicuous feature that allows authors to find out which of their rivals have rubbished their work, raising the possibility of some serious bunfighting at research conferences.

Word automatically gives every document an author tag based on information pulled from the computer when the file is saved. It remains in the document's preferences summary, so when journals return reviewed versions of articles, the details of everyone who amended it remain.

Because careers, funding, and long standing rivalries are at stake, publishers like to keep reviewers' identities anonymous. The promise of anonymity is also key to the reviewer making honest comments.

In the interest of objectivity, the reviewer is often not allowed to know who did the research.

Some publishing professionals have apparently been unaware of the author tag feature. One researcher reports a journal's editor being “horrified” when he alerted her after being contacted by the author of an article he'd reviewed.

Mur K Muchane, executive director of information technology services at Davidson College, said: “I would guess that the vast majority of folks just don't know that that's there.”

The publicising of this feature in the academic community is sure to see washed-up researchers reopening rejected articles to see who put them on the slippery slope to obscurity.

Microsoft says the next version of Office will come with a toolkit called Document Inspector which will help users strip out private data.

The Chronicle of Higher Education piece is here. ®

Bootnote

For an extreme example of when peer review goes bad, revisit the Hwang Woo-Suk saga, which got top journal Science in a whole world of trouble.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
Microsoft: Windows version you probably haven't upgraded to yet is ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of Windows 8.1 will no longer support patches
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed
Windows 7 making some gains on XP Death Day
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
US taxman blows Win XP deadline, must now spend millions on custom support
Gov't IT likened to 'a Model T with a lot of things on top of it'
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.