Recently, we were discussing “Is peer review a ‘sacred cow’? Ready “to be slaughtered”? View from UD News:
Yes, of course it is a sacred cow. It is worshipped, and someone is benefitting from fronting the religion.
Of course, when slaughtering a sacred cow it is always advisable to decide what to do next… Besides, if we thought the sacred cow was bad,what if we get to meet the sacred rattlesnake or the sacred cockroaches? There’s a lesson in that somewhere, but meanwhile …
From Times Higher, we now hear of the dark side of authorship, abuse by senior authors:
Too many senior scholars abuse their power when it comes to assigning credit, argues Bruce Macfarlane
My research also highlighted a second form of gifting practice. This occurs when authorship order is manipulated to benefit the person who needs a first authorship the most. Good intentions can lie behind gifting a first authorship to an emerging scholar or helping to bolster a colleague’s CV in preparation for a promotion or tenure application. But it is another deliberate misrepresentation of the truth about levels of intellectual contribution.
These findings were disappointing but hardly surprising. In East Asia, respect for authority and the social politics of gift and favour reinforce practices that prioritise the development of relationship-building over recognition of merit. When I presented my findings in Hong Kong, one long-serving Western professor asserted that “relationships are more important than the truth”.
That would go a fair way toward explaining the difficulty of replacing fable with fact. See, for example, the junk DNA controversy. How many people need to get an endorsement out of someone who needs to retire first?
Academics know full well that faking or manipulating data is wrong, but there appears to be a far less scrupulous attitude towards misrepresenting contributions to a published paper. While my research has focused on Hong Kong, there is plenty of evidence that this attitude exists internationally. Studies of British and French medical researchers, for example, show that international guidelines on authorship are often ignored. More.
This atmosphere probably contributes to the problem that replication studies are unpopular. Who wants to honestly fail to replicate a top boffin’s findings?
See also: Replication as key science reform
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Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista