Confronting the ‘sloppiness’ that pervades science

The Guardian: 12/7/12

An initiative to minimise questionable data manipulation, and plans for crowdsourced peer review, give hope of a cultural shift

Last week, Tilburg University published a damning final report into the actions of the disgraced social psychologist Diederik Stapel, with anaccompanying press release that emphasises “a general culture of careless, selective and uncritical handling of research and data” in the field.

Commentators have pointed out the need to take great care in making sweeping generalisations on the basis of extreme cases and, indeed,our own recent article somewhat overstated the extent of such extreme cases of fraud. The general consensus in the ensuing discussion was that, although cases of premeditated fraud are rare, the problems caused by the failure to publish or replicate are important. These are more common, and can undermine scientific advancement. Read more