Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Research ethics

The presence of falsified data in the scientific literature is arguably more important than the absence of negative results. The absence of negative results in the reporting of clinical trials is a serious problem as excellently outlined in a TED talk by Ben Goldacre. Data that has been fabricated is more offensive to me as it genuinely pollutes the literature and decreases public and professional confidence in science. Scientists who do the 'best' job of fabrication without getting caught could go on to achieve greater success and pollute the literature even more. An article at Nature news highlights some researchers attempting to catch these cheaters. The article also goes further to suggest we should be concerned that these whistleblowers or "data-whisperers" are also being honest.