Weekend reads: Grim outlook for PhDs; “stealth research;” more sexual harassment

booksThe week at Retraction Watch featured a discussion of why science has bigger problems than retractions, and a look at what happened when a journal decided to get tough on plagiarism. Here’s what was happening elsewhere:

Retractions and Corrections Outside of the Scientific Literature

15 thoughts on “Weekend reads: Grim outlook for PhDs; “stealth research;” more sexual harassment”

  1. Research misconduct is a crime and it should be treated as such. To penalty to such misdeed is to make it a policy that before a research finding is published, a sworn statement should be made that it is completely truthful. Lying under oath is a very serious crime, perjury.

    1. To penalty to such misdeed is to make it a policy that before a research finding is published, a sworn statement should be made that it is completely truthful. Lying under oath is a very serious crime, perjury.

      Unless you want to put all scientific publishing in the hands of government (which I’m pretty sure most don’t want), this isn’t going to work.

  2. I hope the sexual allegations against Thomas Pogge will lead to consequences for both Pogge and Yale. Independent of any academic achievements, there is simply no space for scientists that use their role and power and sexually harass students. Science can only really strive if we provide a safe environment for everyone. And universities that learn of those allegations must be forced to take them seriously or pay considerable fines.

    However, I do not think people convicted of continued sexual harassment against students such as described in the buzzfeed article should be barred of publishing. This should solely be based on the scientific merit. But perpetrators should lose their university positions. They are a threat to the young people wishing to study safely. Likewise, organizers of conferences or workshops should not invite those known to threaten the safety of younger students.

    1. How about we wait until a conviction occurs before we jump to conclusions? You know, due process and what have you?

  3. Theranos has corrected tens of thousands of blood test reports, writes John Carreyrou for the Wall Street Journal.

    The WSJ report is paywalled, leaving me in perplexity as to what is going on there. I gather from second-hand summaries that Theranos has cancelled all the blood test reports performed with the proprietary Edison single-drop technology that was the company’s original reason for existence, and has corrected tests that they farmed out to old-school technology. It seems unlikely that they drew enough blood from all their customers to have archived samples and repeat the tests, so what did they do to the original results? Did they belatedly include a constant, or a factor?

      1. Whoops. It is (of course) the same link. But when I got to it from the Google News home page, it led to the longer story…

  4. Regardless of the legal consequences, the BuzzFeed article is devastating for the reputation of Yale University. Among many many other examples, the comment done by the Yale’s Title IX coordinator is so insensitive: “Thank you for your expression of concern for the safety of the Yale community”… It sounds like a cruel joke.

    1. Hardly “devastating” to their reputation. You think if someone sees “Yale” on a c.v. that it’s not going to carry a huge amount of weight just because of this?

      Almost no one has heard about this issue and fewer still will remember it or use it in their decision-making.

      I would say that it barely affects Yale’s reputation at all.

  5. I am completing my Ph.D. in Chemistry in two months with 6 published papers, and I have decided to leave academia for good. I think I will become a fire fighter or a police officer.

    1. In the unlikely event that you are serious about entering one of those two professions, let me strongly urge that you consider firefighter; any department would absolutely love to have a chemist in their ranks.

    2. Non-academics are amazed when I explain the system. 5 years for a PhD then 5-10 years of postdocs and possibly short-term lecturing contracts, with a 1 in 3 chance for physics and chemistry of obtaining a permanent academic or research position. At least it’s not biology where it is about 1 in 10.

      Of course the point of it all is that your supervisor and possibly other academic staff have their names on your papers. Why employ junior academics when postgrads are much cheaper.

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