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We’re Incentivizing Bad Science (Scientific American)

Discussion in 'Research methodology news and research' started by wdb, Oct 29, 2019.

  1. wdb

    wdb Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    We’re Incentivizing Bad Science
    Current research trends resemble the early 21st century’s financial bubble

    Unless and until leadership is taken at a structural and societal level to alter the incentive structure present, the current environment will continue to encourage and promote wasting of resources, squandering of research efforts and delaying of progress; such waste and delay is something that those suffering diseases for which we have inadequate therapy, and those suffering conditions for which we have inadequate technological remedies, can ill afford and should not be forced to endure.

  2. Snowdrop

    Snowdrop Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Always good to see someone who wants to bring to light the issues around research integrity.

    Two things though:

    It seemed to me there was a veiled accusation against open access. It could just be that the opinion was that the publishing incentive/financing needs fixing but there was no real detailed discussion here.

    Also, this article and all others of this type that I have seen seem to go out of their way to assure readers that they are not talking about deliberate misleading or fraudulent research. It seems to me that this behaviour in science research may also be on the rise.

    No general articles seem willing to talk about that or consider it a problem. I understand that to do so would then 'make it more personal' perhaps but if research integrity is important then someone must go there and say that. The stakes for having/not having properly done research that says something relevant to it's subject is huge to society and should not be ignored.
    ladycatlover, alktipping, wdb and 2 others like this.
  3. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    London, UK
    In one way it is interesting to see this sort of critique out there - as it should be. In another way it is depressing to see how bland and off target it is.

    The problem is 100 times worse than is implied here. Biomedical science, as far as I can see, has collapsed in the last 20 years in terms of productivity. Literally nothing has happened in the field I worked in in 2000, despite there being good reasons for rapid advance.

    There are just a few places where people still seem to see sense. This is one of them.
  4. strategist

    strategist Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    I think the way research is funded may make sense for some problems but not for others. Research projects try to formulate a simple question and then answer it. The idea seems to be avoid putting money into overly ambitious projects. The results can then be published and replicated and then scientists can move on to the next simple question. The hope seems to be that over time, this will produce reliable answers to important questions.

    There seem to be some problems with this approach too. Simple questions may not matter much. We patients need the big problems to be solved, not the simple ones. The publication and replication phase is also awfully slow and peer review doesn't really seem to work.

    In ME/CFS we've had a lot of studies that show that something is wrong and almost all of them seem to have been useless for the purpose of actually helping patients.

    I wonder if ME/CFS could serve as test for a different approach, where a person in the role of director is given the job to solve the big problems in the area of one illness, like "develop a diagnostic test". They just do whatever is necessary to achieve their assigned goals. That approach might often fail, but when it works, it could actually answer some of the big questions.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2019
    ladycatlover, Andy, MeSci and 2 others like this.
  5. strategist

    strategist Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Basically I think we need permanently funded research centers that are highly focused and knowledgable about ME/CFS and have the explicit mission of developing a diagnostic test, treatment, prevention, etc.
    ladycatlover, rainy, Yessica and 6 others like this.
  6. beverlyhills

    beverlyhills Established Member (Voting Rights)

    They are getting poached by computer science. Double the pay, more societal respect, no post-grad. I have met software engineers with a broad understanding of the challenges faced by biologists.
    MEMarge, Trish and Amw66 like this.
  7. beverlyhills

    beverlyhills Established Member (Voting Rights)

    Stop rewarding this.

    2019:“Possible class II MHC deficiency in patients with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)”

    1991: Middleton D, Savage DA, Smith DG. No association of HLA class II antigens inchronic fatigue syndrome. Dis Markers. 1991 Jan-Feb;9(1):47-9.
    MEMarge likes this.

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