In the middle of the pandemic, I got an e-mail asking whether I had access to data from the experiments behind a paper I’d published in 2014. Three months later, I requested that the paper be retracted. The experience has not left me bitter: if anything, it brought me back to my original motivation for doing research.
This is a disarmingly honest piece (in the journal Nature) about how mistakes in the analysis of complicated data sets caused inappropriate conclusions, leading, in this case, to a retraction of a manuscript.
As a student, I was even told never to attempt to replicate before I publish. That is not a career I would want — luckily, my PhD adviser taught me the opposite.
John Ziman warned over 20 years ago in Real Science that we were entering post-academic science. Here are some words of his from an article in Nature.
What is more, science is no longer what it was when [Robert] Merton first wrote about it. The bureaucratic engine of policy is shattering the traditional normative frame. Big science has become a novel way of life, with its own conventions and practices. What price now those noble norms? Tied without tenure into a system of projects and proposals, budgets and assessments, how open, how disinterested, how self-critical, how riskily original can one afford to be?
As the economists are fond of saying: institutions matter. As do incentives. Precious metals can be corrupted, and money — in the short term — made.