Sunday, January 15, 2017

Will do science for change

As a graduate student who is always questioned about the next step of my scientific career, I am often torn between the path of continuing on the bench in hopes of running my own laboratory and the path of “selling-out” into the corporate world and industrial sciences. I believe scientists in academia view themselves as martyrs to a certain extent, sacrificing the fat paychecks of the corporate world in favor of uncovering knowledge that will ultimately benefit human health. These articles and videos have elucidated the self-interests that exist in academic science and shown that financial prosperity drives government funded science as well.

The idea of “publish or perish” was alluded to in Berg’s The Reliability of Science Research ( This mindset fosters competition of the scientific world with the goal of producing the most content of sexy, high impact science as quick as possible to stay afloat. This pressure constricts labs from replicating and validating their results in favor of another notch on the resume. This is not self-corrected or even noticed among scientists as belief that the desired result is the actual truth prejudices scientists to ignoring dissenting results, as alluded to in Dan Ariely’s Ted Talk (

This follows the theme in class of dissuading researchers from approaching experiments with bias and rather observing data with unbiased curiosity. I know that I, myself, often want a result to occur before performing an experiment. I have to remind myself that every result I see is novel in some respect and no result is necessarily better than another but just a reflection of the truth. I truly hope I have not manipulated my experiments to get a certain result or thrown out data as Dan Ariely referred to. It is easy to condemn other labs for manipulation of data but perhaps when faced with their situation, many of us would react the same. It is important to observe science as objectively as possible and receive criticism openly.   

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