Last week’s issue of Science focused on education and research reform within university, secondary, and elementary systems. The first newsworthy study, of which has been heavily reported in the science blogging community, is from the intensive investigation conducted by several PIs at public and private universities and grant agencies, including the NIH. As shown here, there is unanimous evidence that black (note: sociologists believe that the term African-American is now politically incorrect because not all blacks originate from Africa) PIs are the least likely racial group to receive an NIH-funded grant. Look at this discrepancy!
The second study may ameliorate graduate student grumbling, at least slightly. Researchers at Cincy found that the graduate student teaching experience enhances hypothesis-driven research designs. This is attributed to evidence that teachers tend to appropriately incorporate their own research aims into their lectures and that related questions and comments asked by students can unveil experimental flaws, provide constructive criticism, and to allow the lecturer to think more critically about specific and overall experimental goals and outcomes.
A final shocking datum from Science was from a correlative analysis that examined the extent of article retractions from high-impact journals. Science is becoming increasingly competitive and therefore, so is the desire (and necessity) to receive a venerable Science or Nature publication. This has recruited, apparently, more defectors who “polish” data sets, which are more likely to be recognized due to enhanced readership. The Lancet has a surprisingly low defector reputation given that the year’s most notorious fraud in science, Andrew Wakefield, retracted all of his papers which attempted to provide a causative link between vaccination and autism very recently. But perhaps there are other instances of data fraud that go unnoticed (to me) in Cell and Science because well, that is where I get a majority of my current science news.
Ginther DK, Schaffer WT, Schnell J, Masimore B, Liu F, Haak LL, & Kington R (2011). Race, ethnicity, and NIH research awards. Science (New York, N.Y.), 333 (6045), 1015-9 PMID: 21852498
Feldon DF, Peugh J, Timmerman BE, Maher MA, Hurst M, Strickland D, Gilmore JA, & Stiegelmeyer C (2011). Graduate students’ teaching experiences improve their methodological research skills. Science (New York, N.Y.), 333 (6045), 1037-9 PMID: 21852504