Duke University’s huge misconduct fine is a reminder to reward rigour
Last week, Duke University announced it would pay the US government US$112.5 million to settle claims that fraudulent data were used in dozens of research-grant applications. This is a communal punishment for an institution where the overwhelming majority of scientists are honest, hard-working individuals seeking knowledge for the good of humanity.
These steps are laudable. But I worry that the seeds of misconduct, although they grow in only a very few individuals, are planted in the very heart of academic biomedical sciences.
Although impactful science is often important, impact does not always track importance. Applied science tailored to local, practical problems such as mango wastage in India is unlikely to net an elite journal paper. Gregor Mendel’s pioneering genetic studies were ignored for decades. Conversely, some studies that had a big impact at first were later shown to be fraudulent, or just wrong.
The problem is that impact has become a means to an end. Ethics training and severe punishments don’t change incentives to cherry-pick results — or worse. Misconduct will be difficult to eradicate without cultural changes to shift rewards and increase safeguards.
When did the culture of impact begin?
Что за страшилка такая - impact? Импакт - это же просто влияние, воздействие, которое работа оказывает на других ученых. И причем тут фальсификации? А идея, что проблема не в импакте, а в деньгах (в измерении важности научного результата количеством потрaченных денег), в голову не приходила?