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While that doesn’t mean that good science is not being done, he told me, “it certainly slows research, it wastes a heck of a lot of money, and we ought to do more to clean up the literature than we actually do.” GOT A QUESTION FOR DILEMMAS? As one case in point, Steneck recalled a postdoctoral researcher who told him that leading investigators in an emerging area of biomedical science had improperly calibrated some equipment.If you’re a scientist or science journalist wrestling with an ethical dilemma of your own — or if you’re simply curious about an ethical quandary attending scientific research — send an email to [email protected] Consequently, most of the early studies were misleading, yet no one was willing to address it.
But they also should consider how protected their own job position is, Steneck said.
In the case of Scientist A, for instance, if Scientists B and C wield a lot of influence in their field, could criticizing their work hurt Scientist A’s ability to get funding for future projects?
The trouble is, pursuing retractions or corrections is often an uphill struggle.
Generally, going through all the “proper channels” for addressing flawed research — from writing letters to authors or journal editors to requesting a retraction — seldom works, said Ivan Oransky of Retraction Watch, a website dedicated to tracking retractions made by scientific journals.
As a result, Scientist A is now pondering whether the right move is to write another commentary and continue discussing the issue publicly in the literature — or demand retraction of recent papers by Scientists B and C.
“Is this a case for scientific debate,” Scientist A wondered in the email message, “or a case of misconduct?Scientist A further notes that although their older research reports clearly mentioned the shift to the newer census method, the more recent studies by Scientists B and C haven’t acknowledged it.That includes a new report this year that ignored other published work pointing out the importance of the change in methods.Calling out others’ possible research blunders can be risky, and reluctance to do it is understandable.Those who wish to take action need to first take stock of how certain they are of their own conclusions, of course.” Let’s start with the bad news for Scientist A: It’s impossible for us at Undark to really weigh in on the particulars of this conflict without knowing a great deal more detail from both sides.Scientist A views things one way, and Scientists B and C clearly view it differently — and we are in no position to adjudicate the findings of wildlife population science in this space.If so, that’s a real problem, said Steneck, who suggested that the wildlife researcher seek advice and support from a supervisor or department chair, as well as the scientist’s institution.“When you do go into those situations,” said Steneck, “it’s best not to do it alone.” concerns about shoddy science have largely focused on problems in the areas of psychology and biomedicine, the field of ecology isn’t immune to the publish-or-perish pressures that encourage flawed and exaggerated research reports.However, by definition, scientific misconduct means that perpetrators acted intentionally to commit fraud, and that’s tough to prove.What about pushing for retraction of the studies in question?