Friday, August 31, 2018

When is it time for a scientist to call out peers over questionable research?

Ingfei Chen | | August 30, 2018

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Recently, I received an email from a wildlife researcher — I’ll use the pseudonym Scientist A — who wanted to anonymously seek advice on a professional quandary. This researcher believes that two colleagues are presenting data on a controversial wildlife species in a misleading way. The dataset now spans roughly four decades, but when the method for counting the critters changed in the 1990s, the population census leapt by an unprecedented amount.

While Scientist A says the switch in survey methodology created the illusion of a spike in the animal’s population growth, the colleagues — whom we’ll refer to as Scientists B and C — portrayed the increase as a biological reality.

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. 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?”..........To Read More.....




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