Funding and Orwell

STACY A CIUFO stacy at
Fri Dec 29 11:00:01 EST 1995

   As a graduate student at a large public University, I must say
I haven't witnessed this phenomenon of scientists falsifying data.
It seems some folks have an idea that scientists and academics are
purely out for the buck, and ethics and research are secondary.
It must be obvious to all academics out there that if one were
going to lie and cheat for the money, there are many more profitable
platforms from which to do this than scientific research.  Or,
alternatively, perhaps it is beleived that scientists BEGIN their
careers with good intentions, then lose their hearts sometime later.

   Although my lab group is productive, money is very tight and we
have to make decisions on which equipment and supplies to buy very
carefully.  One way to get money into the lab is to cooperate with
other Universities, government agencies, and private companies.
None of these other groups would be too happy if we falsified data,
and I'm not sure what our motive would be anyway.  Why would a lab
group intentionally sabotage their own research?

   I've worked in several different lab groups, and I have NEVER
seen anyone falsify data, never seen anyone coerced into doing it,
and quite honestly, never seen a situation where it would have been
productive to do so (even assuming one was self-centered and greedy).

     Perhaps things are different in private pharmaceutical companies
where the race to patent a drug has financial rewards, but it seems that
in academics, an "incorrect" result will have devastating results for
the lab group, both financial and professionally.

University of Massachusetts

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