- Mar 2016
But there’s, I think there is a question of how you interpret the data, even ... ifthe experiments are very well designed. And, in terms of advice—not that I’mgoing to say that it’s shocking—but one of my mentors, whom I very muchrespect as a scientist—I think he’s extraordinarily good—advised me to alwaysput the most positive spin you can on your data. And if you try to present, like,present your data objectively, like in a job seminar, you’re guaranteed tonotgetthe job
Importance of "spinning" data
You are. And you know what the problems are in doing the experiments. And ifyou, in your mind, think that there should be one more control—because youknow this stuff better than anybody else because you’re doing it, you know—you decided not to do that, not to bring up what the potential difficulties are, youhave a better chance of getting that paper published. But it’s—I don’t think it’sthe right thing to do.
deliberate positive bias
dishonesty occursmore with the postdoc. Because they want to get the data—whereas if they don’tpublish, they don’t move on. And they, I think, are more likely to sort of fudge alittle bit here and there if they need to get the data done. Unless, like you say, youwatch them.
senior faculty over-estimate the likelihood of juniors committing misconduct.
One mid-career scientist told a story of how he and others in his lab counteractedan abuse of power by his mentor, a senior scientist, while he was in training. Hismentor received a manuscript to review that was authored by a ‘‘quasi-competitor.’’It presented results of experiments similar to those that were going on in thementor’s lab. The scientist continued, ‘‘That paper ... basically would have beat usto the punch. They would have published these results before us, and they wouldhave gotten credit, and not us. And my mentor, God bless him, sat on the paper.’’The mentor not only delayed writing the review but asked someone working in thelab to write it (a move of questionable ethicality in itself). That lab person and ourrespondent decided, in response, to stall their own work, so that their lab would nothave an unfair advantage over the group who submitted the paper for review. In theend, the original group got credit for the findings, while the respondent’s lab wasalso able to publish their slightly different findings. He ended his story with,‘‘Sometimes you’re in an awkward position, and you try to do the best thing you canunder the circumstances, within your own internal ethical clock or whatever. Andsometimes it’s ugly and it’s imperfect, but it’s the only thing you can do. If we hadgone to the mentor and voiced this objection, our careers would have been over. Ifwe had approached the journal—God forbid, forget it.’’ The speaker qualified thisstory by saying that it made him sound much more ethical than he actually is.
peer review deliberately delayed in order to slow competitor
The focus-group discussions showed, however, that scientists see peer review asaffording a unique, even protected opportunity for competitors to take advantage ofthem. In this sense, competition infects the peer review process, not only throughscientists’ competition with other applicants, but also through scientists’ distrust ofthe reviewers themselves, as competitors. The following exchange among mid-career discussants shows their sense of vulnerability
Evidence that peer-reviewers are competitors.
Richard B. Freeman and colleagues  havecharacterized the problem as follows: ‘‘Research in the biosciences fits a tournamenteconomic structure. A tournament offers participants the chance of winning a bigprize—an independent research career, tenure, a named chair, scientific renown,awards—through competition.... It fosters intense competition by amplifying smalldifferences in productivity into large differences in recognition and reward. Well-structured tournaments stimulate competition. Because the differences in rewardsexceed the differences in output, there is a disproportionate incentive to ‘win’’’(p.2293). Research environments in which only small numbers of scientists have theopportunity to gain significant attention increase the competitive stakes: playing thegame may be a gamble, but the payoff for winning is significant [28,36]
The tournament structure of biosciences.
Another perspective sees competition as a function not just of funding, but of thebalance between supply and demand of resources, particularly human resources. Inthe current competitive system, young scientists are pitted against one another forattractive career opportunities that are becoming increasingly scarce .Researchers, feeling the pressure to be first to present findings in their fields,employ armies of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and strive to maketheir laboratory groups the smartest and the fastest. The result is a ‘‘postdocbottleneck’’  where the supply for highly educated and trained researchers farexceeds the demand [30–33]. In concrete terms, Donald Kennedy and colleagues have described the structural problem as a source of excess supply of humancapital: ‘‘We’ve arranged to produce more knowledge workers than we can employ,creating a labor-excess economy that keeps labor costs down and productivity high’’(p. 1105). The system produces, they claim, a ‘‘legion of the discontented’’ .They argue that institutional and policy decisions about training scientists should becoupled to placement histories of recent graduates, numbers of intellectual offspringof faculty, and job markets for scientists. Roger L. Geiger  has suggested thatthe imbalance between supply and demand is due in part to deficiencies in graduate
Role of lack of positions. Interestingly, this has been shown by Fang et al to be not reflected in misconduct stats: i.e. the vast majority of scientific fraud is conducted by senior (male) scientists, not job hungry post-docs or grad students.
Analysts differ as to the reasons why competition has intensified. Some see thesituation in terms of money. Tempering the effects of competition is not a primeimpetus behind calls by the National Science Board  and by a recent coalition of140 college presidents and other leaders  for more federal funding for scientificresearch; however, some scientists see such advocacy movements in terms of easingcertain aspects of competition that are worsened by tight dollars. More money, morepositions, and overall expansion of the research enterprise would improve thesituation
role of funding
here are indications, however, that the natureof competition has changed in recent years. Goodstein  argues that this shift islinked to negative outcomes:Throughout most of its history, science was constrained only by the limits ofits participants’ imagination and creativity. In the past few decades, however,that state of affairs has changed dramatically. Science is now held back mainlyby the number of research posts and the amount of research funds available.What had been a purely intellectual competition has become an intensestruggle for scarce resources. In the long run, this change, which is permanentand irreversible, will probably have an undesirable effect on ethical behavioramong scientists. Instances of scientific fraud will almost surely become morecommon, as will other forms of scientific misconduct (p. 31)
relationship of negative aspects of competition to change in funding model that promotes scarcity. See Goodstein, D. (2002). Scientific misconduct.Academe, 88, 28–31
It is negatively correlated with subscription tonormative systems (either traditional or alternative) and sense of community
Scientific competition is is negatively correlated to eithical systems and sense of community.
Melissa S.Anderson  furthermore found that a competitive departmental environment inscience is positively correlated with exposure to misconduct, fears of retaliation forwhistle-blowing, and conflic
More evidence of correlation between competition and "exposure to misconduct".
Empirical findings show a strong, positive relationship between the level ofperceived competition in an academic department and the likelihood that depart-mental members will observe misconduct among their colleagues 
Higher the level of perceived competition in academic departments, the greater the liklihood that people will see misconduct among peers.
Because science is a cumulative, interconnected, andcompetitive enterprise, with tensions among the various societies in which researchis conducted, now more than ever researchers must balance collaboration andcollegiality with competition and secrecy
Institute of medicine's call to balance cooperativeness vs. collaboration.
- scientific misconduct
- scientific funding
- scientific integrity
- tournament economic structure
- scientific competition
- results decay
- peer review
- positive bias