Re-thinking research?

Monday, December 12th, 2011

It’s not a big deal to round off a few corners to help make an argument, right? What if everyone else is doing it? In the New York Times, Benedict Carey wonders if a recent high-profile case of research misconduct points to a more systemic problem in how certain research is done. The alleged culprit: Not having to share your raw data with the outside world, which, detractors claim, encourages some people to tweak the numbers…which results in an environment of escalating tweakage. “The big problem is that the culture is such that researchers spin their work in a way that tells a prettier story than what they really found,” UC-Santa Barbara psychologist  Jonathan Schooler tells the author. “It’s almost like everyone is on steroids, and to compete you have to take steroids as well.” Note: The discussion-at-hand focuses on psychology, but we at Headway are by no means picking on that discipline or implying rampant wrongdoing. In fact, Prof. Schooler has written a subsequent letter to the editor in which he clarifies that neither outright fraud or inadvertent bias are things unique to psychology. Food for thought, whatever your bailiwick.

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