Misconduct: to Bill & Kathy

Keith Robison robison at lipid.harvard.edu
Wed Dec 27 09:15:46 EST 1995

Alexander Berezin (berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA) wrote:
: Dear Kathy, Bill and others:

: We generally can't do too much to change people. All we 
: can't do is to change (improve) the SYSTEM to the point that 
: the (partcicular type) of unethical behavior will not be
: of a great ('Darwinian') advantage. 

: In scientific research so far the grantsmanship, secrecy, etc
: all encourage this (unethical) type of behaviour as the 
: potential rewards of it still outweight the risks. 

: To change that, we need to change the reward system.

: For example (no matter how crude this scheme looks), let's
: take the folowing count:

: Professor A ("fat cat"): 
:         Finding $ 500,000 per year
:         Group produces 10 papers per year 
:         Yield: 1 paper for $ 50,000

: Professor B  ("small guy")
:         Funding:   $ 50,000
:         3 papers per year
:         Yield:  1 paper per $ 17,000   (3 times better)

: Present reward system ignores this (the 3 times better
: efficiency) and by all categories (promotions, awards,
: fame, etc) Prof A will be counted as superior, while 
: small fish will likely be spit upon.

: Should we take YIELD  (cost of paper) as a prime parameter,
: the reward system will be immensely better and more
: efficient. (I can foresee all the screams of "fat cats"
: on such a proposals: of course, it is possible to improve
: it beyond simple paper counting, but even the above would be
: a step forward).

Now you are descending into self-parody!  Under such a system, the
drive to publish lots of weak papers is immensely increased.  Rather
than some abstract perceived correlation between paper production and
funding, you've made a concrete linkage!

Keith Robison
Harvard University
Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology
Department of Genetics / HHMI

robison at mito.harvard.edu 

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