May 28, 2010

From Robert Arking:

Re: Pressure to publish may bias scientists (April 24): Your recent story on publish or perish summarized a study which concluded that scientists in “productive states” more often verified their working hypothesis that did scientists in “non-productive states”. One conclusion offered by the author was that the productive scientists might have tweaked or otherwise manipulated the data. The apparent working hypothesis for the study is that verification should be independent of geography; I find this hypothesis to be suspect since demography is not independent of geography, and there is likely a link between demography and verification. An alternative interpretation of the study’s results is simply that scientists in productive states have selected hypotheses better suited to test by their approaches than did those in non productive states, possibly because of geographic differences in laboratory tools and/or diverse people nearby with which to talk about future experiments. If this possibility was not considered in the original paper, then perhaps there was a rush to judgement because of the publish or perish rule?

Robert Arking, Ph.D.
Professor & Undergraduate Officer
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Contract Implementation Officer, AAUP/AFT
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48202


Post a Comment

<< Home