Britannica Rips Nature Magazine on Accuracy Study
Encyclopedia Publisher Says Journal's Research was Invalid,
CHICAGO, March 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. said today that a recent study on the accuracy of online encyclopedias by the science journal Nature was "so error-laden that it was completely without merit" and called on the journal to retract the study. Published in Nature's December 15, 2005, issue, the study claimed to have found that the science coverage in the Encyclopaedia Britannica was only slightly more accurate than that in Wikipedia. But in a 7,000-word, article-by-article analysis of the Nature study posted today on the company's Web site ( http://www.britannica.com ), Britannica said that "almost everything about the journal's investigation ... was wrong and misleading." Britannica's analysis took six weeks to complete and involved, in addition to its editorial staff, many of its outside advisers and contributors. The company said it found in Nature's work "flagrant errors so numerous they completely invalidated the results." The editors of Nature rearranged and reedited Britannica articles before sending them out to reviewers, said Britannica. Nature claimed to have found dozens of inaccuracies in the Encyclopaedia Britannica that didn't exist and reviewed texts that were not from the encyclopedia, according to Britannica. Britannica also said it was rebuffed in its repeated attempts to obtain from Nature the original data on which the study's conclusions were based. "This study has been cited all over the world, and it's invalid," said Dale Hoiberg, Britannica's editor-in-chief. "We have never claimed that Britannica is error-free," he added, "but Nature attributed to us dozens of inaccuracies that simply were not inaccuracies at all. We practice strong scholarship, reasoned judgment, and continuous editorial review, and we publish a reliable, high-quality encyclopedia. By its flawed analysis and false accusations, Nature did us a great disservice." The errors by Nature cited in Britannica's analysis included: -- Rearranging, reediting, and excerpting Britannica articles. Several of the "articles" Nature sent its outside reviewers were only sections of or excerpts from Britannica entries. Some were cut and pasted together from more than one Britannica article. -- Failing to check facts. Nature falsely attributed inaccuracies to Britannica based on statements from reviewers that were themselves inaccurate and which Nature's editors failed to verify. -- Misrepresenting its findings. Even according to Nature's own figures, which grossly exaggerated the number of inaccuracies in Britannica, Wikipedia had a third more inaccuracies than Britannica, yet the headline of Nature's report misleadingly implied otherwise. Taken together, Britannica said, these and many other errors by Nature invalidated the results of the study. "The thing for Nature to do now is to issue a full, public retraction of the study and the article in which it was reported," said Hoiberg. "They should do it immediately and correct the misleading impression they've created." Britannica's full report is available at http://www.britannica.com . About Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. has been a leader in reference and education publishing since 1768. The company is known for the 32-volume Encyclopaedia Britannica and its pioneering work in electronic publishing. Its products include Britannica Online School Edition and other digital products; and printed products such as the new Britannica Discovery Library. Britannica's editorial operation is overseen by some of the world's most distinguished scholars, several of them Nobel laureates. Britannica makes its headquarters in Chicago.
SOURCE Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.
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