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Science

Can Bad Scientific Practice Be Fixed? 444

HughPickens.com writes: Richard Horton writes that a recent symposium on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research discussed one of the most sensitive issues in science today: the idea that something has gone fundamentally wrong with science (PDF), one of our greatest human creations. The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. According to Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, a United Kingdom-based medical journal, the apparent endemicity of bad research behavior is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world or retrofit hypotheses to fit their data.

Can bad scientific practices be fixed? Part of the problem is that no-one is incentivized to be right. Instead, scientists are incentivized to be productive and innovative. Tony Weidberg says that the particle physics community now invests great effort into intensive checking and rechecking of data prior to publication following several high-profile errors. By filtering results through independent working groups, physicists are encouraged to criticize. Good criticism is rewarded. The goal is a reliable result, and the incentives for scientists are aligned around this goal. "The good news is that science is beginning to take some of its worst failings very seriously," says Horton. "The bad news is that nobody is ready to take the first step to clean up the system."
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Can Bad Scientific Practice Be Fixed?

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  • fix that first. science can lead the way.
    • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @09:02AM (#49774239) Journal
      Human nature provides ample fuel for the corruption of the scientific process.

      On individual days and in individual studies the science can be protected, but you will never completely remove even unintentional bias.

      Willful misrepresentation of the facts to satisfy an agenda will continue as long as humans are involved in the experimentation or in the compilation of the results.

  • by khchung ( 462899 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @08:27AM (#49774015) Journal

    The case against journalism is straightforward: much of the news articles, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, journalists has taken a turn towards darkness. The apparent endemicity of bad journalist behavior is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, journalists too often sculpt facts to fit their preferred narrative of the world or retrofit hypotheses to fit their data.

    Unlike journalists, however, science will always have to bow to reality. So, yeah, bad science practice will eventually run aground when reality hits, no matter how many epicycles one add to the model. But bad journalism will persists as long as it attracts eyeballs.

    • by Bruce66423 ( 1678196 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @08:32AM (#49774051)
      The MMR vaccine fiasco is of course the classic example of this; there are still people acting on the assumption that the lies were true, and that's getting people killed.
      • by Picass0 ( 147474 )

        In the case of children's vaccination the medical community would be wise to co-op the language of climate change activists and label the opposition as "vaccine deniers". Shame them as anti-science and anti-medicine. Point out how the anti-vax movement's loudest voices are b-list celebrities with no expertise on the subject.

    • Good point.

      Now take a science subject, combine the journalism problems with the science problems and splash in a bit of political agenda...

      Add to the mix a little bit of Group Think, and you have a very very big problem.

  • by kenh ( 9056 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @08:34AM (#49774069) Homepage Journal

    ...when we replaced the scientific method with scientific consensus?

    That 99 out of 100 scientists agree one thing is true doesn't make it true - it may be, it may not be, but the number of people that believe doesn't make it so.

    When the scientific community is caught 'correcting' raw data and ostracizing 'non-believers' that challenge their beliefs they undermine the public trust in 'science'.

    I was taught that the scientific method welcomed challenges to accepted beliefs - a return to that position would go a long way towards reforming belief in science.

    • by sideslash ( 1865434 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @08:50AM (#49774177)
      Your post hurts Michael Mann's feelings, and should be modded down for that reason alone. ;)
      • Your post hurts Michael Mann's feelings, and should be modded up for that reason alone. ;)

        FTFY ;)

        • Unfortunately it looks like some people took me literally, and are modding down kenh for expressing an unorthodox opinion. To me that's unfortunate, since climate science is ripe for the same sorts of criticisms as the humanities -- mostly surrounding questionable claims based on statistics and data analysis. Not saying the whole field is a crock, just that criticism and audit are always scientifically desirable, even -- no, ESPECIALLY when major practitioners in the field are so thin-skinned about it.
          • by itzly ( 3699663 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @09:51AM (#49774541)

            Climate science is probably the most scrutinized field of science right now. And despite people saying the whole field is a crock, nothing of substance is found wrong.

            • Nobody here is saying the whole field is a crock, and of course many things of substance have been found wrong. How could it be a major field of study and not get things wrong from time to time?
            • Climate science is probably the most scrutinized field of science right now. And despite people saying the whole field is a crock, nothing of substance is found wrong.

              Obviously the whole thing isn't a crock, there is just a lot of noise in the field now largely owing to it being such a hot topic and gold mine for grants and publicity. The basics like the instrumental record warming for a century, CO2 measurements increasing for a century and the fact CO2 contributes to the greenhouse effect are all thoroughly solid. That doesn't mean a horde of soft science hasn't been piled on speculating about the social impacts of potential speculative future changes brought on by thi

              • by itzly ( 3699663 )

                His whole hockey stick temperature reconstruction has been thoroughly rebuked by The Annals of Applied Statistics [projecteuclid.org]

                Of course, others disagree with that sentiment. http://www.realclimate.org/ind... [realclimate.org]
                And of course, after the original Mann hockeystick paper, a few dozen more studies have been done that have agreed with his graph.

              • Climate science is probably the most scrutinized field of science right now. And despite people saying the whole field is a crock, nothing of substance is found wrong.

                Obviously the whole thing isn't a crock, there is just a lot of noise in the field now largely owing to it being such a hot topic and gold mine for grants and publicity.

                And the only reason it being such a hot topic and gold mine for grants and publicity is because of the deniers who want more proof. Which they then are "skeptic" about.

      • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @09:58AM (#49774593)

        "Your post hurts Michael Mann's feelings..."

        There's no need to mod it down. Mann will sue your ass off, an innovation he has personally added to the scientific method.

    • by danbert8 ( 1024253 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @08:55AM (#49774195)

      That's part of it... But I believe the biggest problem is science fairs. Once heralded as a great way to get kids involved in science and the scientific method has been ruined by a culture of excessive safety, pandering to kids, and incompetent science teachers. First, every kids science toy has been neutered by safety culture. I'm not saying we should have kits with mercury and radioactive materials like we did in the 50s, but "science" kits where you make kitchen goo instead of actual chemical reactions is lame and boring. Kids are not fooled.

      Second, the increasing pressure to pass all kids or give them participation ribbons is very present at the science fair. Many kids are forced to participate, and in many fairs judges have to assign a minimum score of "good" or some such term. I have judged at the STATE LEVEL (as in, they had to do very well at the school and county levels) and have had to assign this minimum score which was still a gift. Kids come up with buzzword laden projects and make elaborate art projects that get ooohs and ahhs from non-technical people while doing no research and offering conclusions that are demonstrably wrong. Don't believe me? Go to a science fair some time and count the number of "experiments" showing ethanol has more energy content than gasoline. There are usually a dozen at the state science fair I judge. I also wonder how many projects are done primarily by the parents who don't want their kids to do poorly.

      Finally, the incompetency of science teachers... This is not applicable to all teachers, but especially in poorer areas and in under performing schools, science teachers have no science background and don't understand the scientific method. They don't understand research, citations, hypotheses, or conclusions. They don't even take the time to verify experimental results with a quick Google search. The comforting thing I've noticed from judging student science projects is that most of the kids KNOW their teachers are incompetent and bullshitted their way to a good score at the science fair. At the state level, they are completely unprepared for actual questions on subject matter by professionals in the various fields. I'm a civil engineer, and I've had to shake my head in disbelief that projects are off by an order of magnitude from what they should be and it is a shock for the student to hear that as no one has reviewed or questioned their work before the state level.

      What we need is a new science fair system where teachers can mentor students on projects, but teachers don't judge projects. Projects should only be judged by people familiar with the subject matter and the scientific method. If they can't scrape together the judges, maybe the science fair needs to go away or there needs to be an active campaign to recruit and support professionals to judge school science fairs. It should be no surprise that the science fair kids have grown up to do research that panders to public opinion, are lazy, have poor citations, and are filled with self-confirming results.

      • I'm not saying we should have kits with mercury and radioactive materials like we did in the 50s

        Spoil-sport.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by DerekLyons ( 302214 )

        "science" kits where you make kitchen goo instead of actual chemical reactions is lame and boring

        Someone who doesn't grasp that making kitchen goo involves chemical reactions, or deliberately ignores it in order to fuel their rant... shouldn't be judging state level science fairs, or taking teachers to task for not understanding science.

    • You are mistaking kicking back against PR agencies, people in politics defining a difference to other people in politics and medicine show "religion" who see science as a threat to their business model for "scientific consensus".
      Banding together against the barbarians at the gate who wouldn't know the scientific method if it bit them on the arse is not "scientific consensus" - it is a defence of expertise versus wilful ignorance and deliberate lies.
    • When was it not driven by consensus? It always has been.
    • by Maxwell ( 13985 )
      It shouldn't be scientists who agree, but their (verifiable, repeatable) research that agrees. Rock star scientists get us in trouble....
    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      ...when we replaced the scientific method with scientific consensus?

      Er, no. That's like positing science going off the rails because it replaced instrumentation with data.

    • Maybe science went off the rails when we replaced the scientific method with scientific consensus?

      That presumes some golden era of Pure Science when no scientist ever had an ego, or an agenda, or a patron that had to be appeased, or any other motive to play fast and loose with the truth ever existed.

      It didn't.

    • by CBM ( 51233 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @11:27AM (#49775191)

      I work in a science field. I have *never* seen "truth" or "fact" set by polling. Scientific controversy exists and disagreements exist. Researchers attempt to use carefully designed experiments with measurements to resolve those disagreements. Fringe researchers get a voice, and once in a while, an "out there" idea does pay off. I have attended many conferences where unconventional theories were presented.

      However, when conveying scientific results to the public or policy makers, discussing what is consensus and what is not consensus does make sense. For that purpose, we as scientists and public trust holders shouldn't let the fringe distract us from our best understanding of the world. Because 99.99% of those fringe ideas are pretty much junk.

      Science does permit challenges to existing models. But in most cases those challenges will have an extraordinarily difficult time of it. Difficult, not because of some kind of popularity contest. The current best models are there for a reason. They have survived knock-down fights with other models. They have been run through multiple experimental gauntlets. Theoretical models usually have multiple consequences and these consequences can be tested in multiple, cross-linking ways. A new model can be proposed, a new way of thinking put forth, but the burden is upon the proposer to show how this new way is consistent with all previous experiments. Fringe theories should not get a free pass because they are new or fringe.

  • by umafuckit ( 2980809 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @08:35AM (#49774079)
    There will always be shitty studies out there. With the proliferation of these pseudo-journals there will be even more bad science out there. This science is a waste of time of money but I don't think it poses much of a direct threat to progress. The bulk of the wrong studies are likely also the obviously bad and unintersting studies. These are the studies that nobody reads. The quantity of genuinely significant work (stuff that pushes forward a field) is tiny. When something that looks like this comes out it is immediately mobbed: people rush to reproduce the results and/or use the new techniques. If it's wrong we'll know very soon. In practice there is always an attempt to replicate the important stuff, even though the publish or perish nature of science means that pure replication studies are rarely carried out and instead are dressed up as a minor extension of preceeding work. The lesson is that it's dangerous to treat a single study as definitive. Wait for the field to catch up and, where appropriate, wait for the meta-studies.
    • Exactly, the studies on secondary and insignificant subjects will persist because nobody will invest money to debunk them, it doesn't worth the trouble. Studies and results that really matters will be carefully examined. That's why the high profile example in the summary is a bad example, because that's what exactly happened. This is not an example of bad science, on contrary it is an example of good science. You can get a bad result from a scientific experiment, it doesn't mean you are necessarily a bad sc
  • by Bruce66423 ( 1678196 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @08:36AM (#49774087)
    Much of the problem comes from studies being published whose data is not robust because the sample size is too small to be meaningfully significant. This needs to be headlined in the abstract if it is published at all; the best magazines should refuse anything without a decent sample size, whilst the ones further down the food chain should have statisticans on hand to ask hard questions.

    Discovering an apparent effect should result in more research - not a rush to believe...
    • Much of the problem comes from studies being published whose data is not robust because the sample size is too small to be meaningfully significant. This needs to be headlined in the abstract if it is published at all; the best magazines should refuse anything without a decent sample size, whilst the ones further down the food chain should have statisticans on hand to ask hard questions.

      This is too simplistic. In some fields you can only ever get small sample sizes because collecting data is too difficult or expensive. One example is human electrophysiology studies of brain activity: you have to get quite lucky to find the right patients. Further, the term "meaningfully significant" relates to some very thorny issues. Statistical significance is conventionally defined using a p-value and this says nothing about the size of the effect. In fact, if I do a study with a HUGE sample size then I

  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @08:40AM (#49774119)

    Too many "scientists" are more concerned with the next big grant than with doing quality research. And getting grants is often a lot more about politicking and ass-kissing than making a case for why you actually deserve it.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      From a variety of sources I have heard that once a scientist reaches a certain level they have to put in far more than half their time chasing grants, which leaves the actual research to poorly supervised students. Apparently there are far more hoops to jump through to get the grants so it's not just relative scarcity - blame red tape that was not there before instead of the senior scientists that are being wasted as data entry staff filling in forms.
      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @09:44AM (#49774489)

        Half? In many fields (like medical research) it's essentially all, and there's no "at some point." Many places offer one or two year starting faculty appointments, at the end of which you're expected to have a major grant (success rate is somewhere around 10% on those). So you better get busy writing applications. Once you're established, you better keep writing them, because now you've got a lab full of people depending on you for their livelihood.

        • by multimediavt ( 965608 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @11:33AM (#49775249)

          Half? In many fields (like medical research) it's essentially all, and there's no "at some point." Many places offer one or two year starting faculty appointments, at the end of which you're expected to have a major grant (success rate is somewhere around 10% on those). So you better get busy writing applications. Once you're established, you better keep writing them, because now you've got a lab full of people depending on you for their livelihood.

          It's well more than half their in engineering disciplines as well. I worked for a research university for two decades and know that the more successful professor/researcher spends almost all their time on grant writing, with the best ones getting buy-out of their salaries so adjunct instructors can be brought in to teach their classes while they and their grad students focus on fulfilling the needs of one grant while working on the next three or five proposals. These faculty will often teach one undergrad and one grad class and that's about it. The rest of the time they are doing project management and business development tasks with the occasional sabbatical where they actually get to do research themselves. These profs also travel a lot in order to keep connections to research collaborators at other universities, private sector companies that either benefit from their research or are supplying equipment or other needs for their research and with program directors of NSF funding areas that are either current or former colleagues. They are, basically, mini-CEOs once they get to the point where they are pulling in $1 million or more per year in grant funds.

    • Without grants you cannot do quality research, so, here is where everything starts. To do science, you need money. That's why all scientists are concerned about getting the next big grant, you cannot ignore it. Now, as far as I know, there is a scientific comittee to decide who will get money, it is supposed to be isolated from the politicians.
  • Well I half believe that article ... judged by its own criteria
  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @08:47AM (#49774151)
    Science has always been full of bad science. The people involved have always had agendas. The problem is that we are creating so much data, that it is hard to process and identify what was created in a rigorous process and what is just a pile of crap. And, it is not easy to tell them apart. Then you have people involved. Newton tried his best to discredit Hooke. Hooke was lacking in some areas, but a genius in others. Some scientists just create large quantities of data, and don't know what to do with it. Others have a specific idea, and ignore anything which proves them wrong. Science has just gotten so big, it is hard to find the good amongst the, not really bad but, useless. Scientists must publish or be ignored, so they create anything they can to keep going.
    • For a study to be funded, it must be ground-breaking. For a study to break new ground, it must be non-obvious. For it to be non-obvious, it must be, to some degree, counter-intuitive. To be counter-intuitive,it must, to some degree, be illogical (at least from a standard perspective.)
      Since scientists can improve their chance of getting funded if they are studying illogical things, there's likely going to be a strong bias toward studying things that aren't true . Some of these things will not b shown to be c

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I think there's two other interrelated things that contribute to this.

      "Big Science" these days, especially in healthcare, often involves long-term, expensive studies which take years to perform. People who commit to this mode of science make both a commitment to the field, but often to the hypothesis being tested.

      To get the study funded requires basically betting your career on the validity or at least the likelihood of the validity of the hypothesis.

      So, if I've bought into the hypothesis that dietary chol

    • Hard? Here's an easy way to identify the clear crap. If the N is less than 30 the result, and conclusions should be ignored as more likely a random effect due to small sample size. Sure the actual number is usually much larger depending on what the magic formulas pop out, but the number of studies that I come across that make claims, and draw conclusions when there same size is less than 30 is absurd. That might be ok for a college paper that's not being scored on the result, but whether or not they can act
  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @08:47AM (#49774153)

    not as much as billions of $$$$ of some new drug that may or may not work and by the time the lawsuits come you are rich and retired

  • There's been a bit of almost Soviet style Lysencoism over the last couple of decades with political appointees over-ruling the scientists that work for them. Put a horse judge in charge and that "heck of a job" just isn't good enough for anything other than judging horses.
  • Bad science will inevitably lead to bad real world consequences. Somebody will die.

    But who cares, because because you gotta keep turning that endless publication crank. If you don't you might get kicked off the team.

    Just visualize legions of white coated scientists chained to their lab benches/computer screens, pulling a lever to get their jolt of drugs injected directly into their veins. If they don't pull the lever often enough they'll go into seizure and break their own backs through muscle contraction

  • by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @08:57AM (#49774211)

    Can bad scientific practices be fixed?

    I whipped together a quick study that shows that it is completely impossible. I'm sorry, it can't be fixed.

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @09:28AM (#49774399)
    I have witnessed way too many brilliant, and I mean off the scale brilliant graduate students who are forced to pretty much credit their work to some 60+ year old very tenured professor because he is the only one who can get access to the money. But worse than that I see the same off the scale brilliant students being told that they are wrong wrong wrong. Not because they are wrong but because when they are shown to be correct it will upend the research and conclusions that entire careers were built upon.

    I find that many senior professors/scientists never really accomplished anything and simply became experts in an established field further establishing that field. They are threatened by anyone who comes along and shakes the tree which might cause a few of their most rotten fruit to fall. But they are also threatened that if recognized that a truly great young scientist will come along and "steal" all the grant money that is rightfully theirs because of their seniority.

    There are the rare senior scientists who encourage new and radical thinking along with making sure that credit is properly assigned (first name) but pretty much without exception these are scientists who accomplished something in their day.

    I find a very common song sung by these terrible scientists is that all science is now to be done by groups. Yes groups are often required to conclusively put something new to bed but almost without exception great science had some key crack opened by some one person(or two) thinking way outside the box; not merely going through a checklist.

    I have long thought that one of the reasons that so many great scientists are a bit autistic is that only this way can they ignore the continuous social pressure to conform to the groupthink that the lesser scientist would prefer they would. Whereas the more social but less capable scientists are the ones who can rise to the top on little or no accomplishments and cajole and structure the system so as to provide them with a huge cut of the grant money.
    • Citation please.

      Not because I'm trying to be contrary or disbelieve you, but because I'm genuinely interested in cases where legitimate, well-conducted studies showed something established to be false and which were buried because of the potential ramifications.

      I'm sure it's happened, but it starts to sound like a conspiracy theory, particularly in the absence of an example or two.

      • Citation please.

        Not because I'm trying to be contrary or disbelieve you, but because I'm genuinely interested in cases where legitimate, well-conducted studies showed something established to be false and which were buried because of the potential ramifications.

        I'm sure it's happened, but it starts to sound like a conspiracy theory, particularly in the absence of an example or two.

        Not exactly like the parent, but an example of the established knowledge refusing to acknowledge the data in front of it's face was experienced by Mary Schweitzer [wikipedia.org]. In 1993 on a dig she was on a team that had to break a T-Rex bone open to transport it. Upon doing this she found some kind of reddish material and upon looking closer at it determined it was organic. The explanation that she had actually found some form of remaining soft tissue from a dinosaur was more or less dismissed out of hand because it's

  • Cities were better when they were smaller. The internet was better when the entire world wasn't on facebook and twitter. Slashdot was certainly better when they didnt care so much about traffic. Science was more accurate when it was a much smaller. Human nature is to spoil things when you get too many people involved. And it's not a linear. That said, the real question is whether more good science is being done even as the ratio goes down.
  • I think part of the problem is that nobody wants to publish a paper where the experiment failed--but they should.

    Failures are useful; they're not wasted time. You've almost certainly learned something from a failed experiment. Maybe you learned that the setup wasn't rigorous enough, or maybe you just learned that a certain avenue of research wasn't viable for one reason or another. I get that journals are looking for breakthroughs, but it would be so useful to read a paper in your field and find out that someone already tried the thing you're attempting, and now you don't have to fail in exactly the same way.

    But that requires a much more collaborative system, and one where the community is interested in finding answers, not glory.

  • Without an agreeable metric for how to declare it to be "fixed", that is an unachievable goal. It is worth noting though that the percentage of bad players in science is no worse than in any other vocation, and indeed lower than many. The difference is just that more media attention goes to unethical science than to drywall installers who cut corners.
  • In medical research, the problem is that most of it is run by amateurs. Medical doctors receive somewhere between no and very little scientific education, and conduct research in their spare time while not treating patients, yet in North America an MD is considered not only sufficient, but actually desirable for a "clinician scientist." There are some excellent scientists who also hold MDs, but it's secondary to their scientific training. Clinicians have very creative ideas about how to do science.

  • Nothing new here (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @10:14AM (#49774701)

    The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.

    That has ALWAYS been true. In fact just about the only way to make a name for yourself in science is to show that someone else is wrong about something. Einstein is famous because he showed how Newton was wrong. We put forward hypothesis, test them and (in what should be a surprise to no one) most of them ultimately turn out to be wrong or defective in some way. As a general rule that is both acceptable (to a point) and expected.

    Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.

    Again, why the notion that any of this is somehow new?

    Can bad scientific practices be fixed? Part of the problem is that no-one is incentivized to be right. Instead, scientists are incentivized to be productive and innovative.

    Bullshit they aren't incentivized to be right. Being right is hugely incentivized. The problem is that it is hard to be right about something that is actually complicated and meaningful. So we have to break big problems up into little problems and most of those aren't consequential and many are going to turn out to be wrong or dead ends. Not every bit of science is going to be of world altering importance. Some people are doing some shady things to earn a paycheck and stay in the game but they tend to get found out in due time. Science is remarkably effective in weeding out bad data over time.

  • Double-blind studies are standard practice for studies. So why not do the same with funding? Donors to a university don't get to pick and choose which researcher or topic of research will get the money (but it has to be guaranteed to go to research and not into the general fund). The researchers' funding is allocated by some random method and they don't know in advance how much they will get if any nor do they know where the money came from.

  • I work in psychiatry research, analyzing and maintaining the sexy fMRI neuroimaging data. I also write the storage and analysis database that we use. The database usage has been growing exponentially as data sharing projects have started and the NIH has mandated data sharing. In other words, my workload of maintaining this software system has also grown exponentially. What my PIs do not understand is that software is not at all like scientific papers. Once one of their analysts (or post-docs) writes a paper

  • "Part of the problem is that no-one is incentivized to be right."

    Yeah, bullshit. A significant mistake will permanently cripple a young scientists career, if not outright end it.

  • This is a general problem in science (not just biomedical research). I'm a physicist, and we see the same sorts of issues.

    It all comes down to how academic research is funded and judged: number of papers, number of students graduated, and amount of money raised. Inside granting agencies, this is how different research efforts are compared to determine which programs get (more) funding and who gets cut. The importance of the work, the correctness of the work, and the ethical behavior (or not) of the resea

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