Saturday, January 21, 2006

Faking Study Results - A continuing problem of discredit(ion)

New York Times, recently credited with faking photographs, carries this interesting article. Researchers have recently been more in the news for the results they have faked, than the results they produced.

And for the right reasons. After all, when they are not making up stories, journalists are always after something sensational. This directly influences humanity, and one day we might prove that "branding" is now imbibed into our genetic make up, and slowly we have started losing our ability at original thought.

Well coming back to the main point, now the art and science of cloning has become highly suspect. If we add cancer research to the list, then think of the poor patients for one second. Whose study do they rely on? Where do they place their hopes?

What is the solution? I think we need to alter the silly "Publish or Perish" attitude and proceed towards letting people provide appropriate results. Funding should not be tied to the amount of codswallop you write sticking to the Chicago manual of style, but to the list of patients directly aided or penetrated in an attempt at treatment.

Will this happen? If so, soon? I don't think so. How many of us are rejected good opportunities because we don't have the holy brand of a "PhD"? Well, I am sure hundreds of thousands of researchers are tempted to become tailors of data than collectors and analyzers of data as a result of this craze.

We should hold onto hope, so, we assume that employers, especially entrepreneurs would stop relying solely on names, titles and brands while trying to employ people. We hope that funding organizations apply the rules of sanity when they fund research activities.

We hope that journals don't engage in a race to publish anything and everything to bring up the numbers. We hope people become less interested in conglomerating in exotic tourist locations in the name of research meets, and become more interested in work.

And we hope, NY Times stops publishing fake photos...

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