Chapter seven of Rigor Mortis By, Richard Harris distinguishes how studies have faults from the start. Brian Nosek a psychology professor tells his students to complete a study but when they come back and look at their data he questions, ““…why did we do the study?” He can’t typically remember what hypothesis they were trying to test…” (pg. 145, Rigor Mortis) If we are educating future generations and can’t even remember why a study was conducted what’s the point of biomedical science?
The FDA and NIH worked to make a requirement for scientist to submit their hypothesis if their studies could lead to new drugs or devices. I found it interesting that companies may submit the hypothesis but not the results if they aren’t in favor of the drug. This is known as the file drawer effect. If scientist don’t publish their results we won’t know a drug is bad or certain elements in the drug are harmful. Leading to people everywhere repeating tests and overall slowing down the process of learning and creating helpful medicine. The file drawer effect truly interested me. If scientist keep this people will spend time doing studies or labs on certain topics that have already been done, yet won’t know due to the file drawer effect. This causes a waste of the scientist time, others time and money used to fund the project. Scientist still stash their findings away but luckily less do. About six percent of scientist have tossed out their data due to a contradiction of previous data and fifteen percent said they ignored their observations due to a feeling of them being inaccurate.
Although it’s helpful to science to have a scientist publish their work it isn’t always beneficial for the scientist career. For example, Steven Salzberg was working to identify the genome of lob-lolly pine while some competitors were working on the sequence of Norway spruce. The group that published first could claim having completed the first conifer genome. Steven Salzberg was posting his data as he went along and when he got close to completion the other group rushed and turned in their paper even though it was obviously less complete. As you can see yes this moved science forward but it didn’t help Salzberg.
Replication of labs is also an issue. A group picked fifty papers to replicate on of them being of Robert Weinberg. It usually takes a few months for someone new to learn the techniques Weinburg uses in his lab so, “… he instead offered to host someone on his lab for a month to learn techniques firsthand. “They weren’t interested.”” (pg. 159, Rigor Mortis) I believe if people aren’t willing to learn the techniques used on certain labs then when they reproduce a study the results will obviously different.
There must be a change so people care to show their work, publish their findings and learn from others. If not all I see is a prolonged journey to new findings, to helping others.