Quackery conference kicked out of LUMC

So I got a newsarticle in my RSS reader from the Dutch society against quackery describing the story how a quack conference was banned from the lecture halls from the LUMC. This is an interesting item, because it shows what happens when there are non scientific groups working in an academic environment. With that I mean that the guys from the Boerhaave committee, which is the LUMCs own conference bureau, can be approached by anyone to organise a conference. But a conference ‘organised by the LUMC’, held in the LUMC lecture halls has a different feel to it then just some guys who booked a room in a hotel somewhere. It feels like the content is sanctioned by the LUMC. Academia and academics must be aware of their status and not just lend their name(s) to anyone, even if you can earn an honest buck or two. This important understanding of the role of academia in society will become ever more important with valorisation and industry-academia partnerships.

Now I know that there are safeguards in place to prevent this from happening with the Boerhaave committee and apparently this kind of works, since the guys from the Society for Scientific Exploration (SSE) are no longer welcome in the Halls of the LUMC. Although I did not study the scientific validity of ‘biophotons’ completely, what I have been reading is not pretty.

Full disclaimer: I am a member of Dutch the society against quackery, I am an employee of the LUMC and I have worked with the Boerhaave committee in the organisation of the WEON.

preconference workshop ‘crash course peer review’ cancelled

I worked together with some partners on a new workshop for young epidemiologist. The title says it all: WEON preconference workshop ‘crash course peer review’.

Unfortunately, we had to cancel the workshop because the number of participants was to low to justify the effort of not only myself, but especially all the other teachers. I think it is a pity that we had to cancel, but by cancelling we still have a fresh start whenever we want to try again in a different format.

Whilst preparing this workshop I noticed that peer review, or a better term would be refereeing, is not popular. It is seen as a task that task up to much time, with too much political consequences and little reward etc. New initiatives like Pubmed commons and other post publication peer review systems are regarded by some as answers to some of these problems. But what is the future of refereeing, when young epidemiologist are not intrinsically motivated to contribute time and effort to the publication process? Only time will tell.

For those who are still interested in this crash course, please contact me via email.


WEON 2014

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The WEON is the annual meeting of the VVE, the Dutch Epidemiological Society. The whole conference is held in English though, given that each more and more non Dutch also attend. These might be working here in the Netherlands, but we also have visitors from abroad. Last year, the WEON was organised in Utrecht with a couple of organisation from Utrecht and surroundings. The conference was a great succes with great preconferecence workshops and great plenary speakers, as I wrote before on the causality blog.

But now onto next year, when the WEON will be held in Leiden! Before you start with anything, you need to start with a motto and logo. Since the focusgroup “causality” is also based in Leiden the motto and the logo are off course linked to causal inference! Currently, we are working hard on the basic program. And specifically, I’m working on a special preconference workshop that is targeted at young epidemiologist. I got some ideas, but if you have any suggestions, please join the conversation via @WEON2014!