PhD comics is the best way procrastinate during research. Today, they came up with a great video that examined the presumed link between vaccines and autism. Have a look!
Fraud, shoddy and sloppy science, conflicts of interest… Who said a science career is boring? When I write on these topics I sometimes have the feeling that I am doing science more harm than good; am I doing science a favor by showing its weaknesses and caveats? The answer still remains yes, for I believe that we need problems need to be identified before you can act on them. This is also the theme of this post: What is all being done on these topics in the last couple of days. A point by point list:
- AllTrials: The AllTrials initiative which I support is going into its next round.Pharmaceutical companies are opening up (LEO, GSK), there are hearings in brussels and the debate in Medical journals (especially the BMJ, as one of the founders of AllTrials) is going on. Great stuff!
- PubMed commons (a commenting system in PubMed, as a new post publication peer review) got online. It’s still a trial, but boy this is cool. I love its punchline: “A forum for scientific discourse”.
- We organised a try out of our ‘on being a scientist’ workshop on which i wrote earlier this post. IN this post i say that is if going to be a LUMC workshop, but this changed to a workshop for all starting PhD students from the university Leiden, thus including all faculties. I am truly exciting and it our first run in november works out, this workshop might even become part of the official PhD education program of the university Leiden. The economist published a coverstory on How science goes wrong. It tells how science, peer review, statistical false positives etc work. It is a good read, especially when you are interested in science as a social process. Some remarks can be made: it’s not all that bad because scientist tend to be familiar with how the system works… the system might not be perfect, but it is at the moment the best we can do… luckily there are ways to get better, ways that are also discussed in the article.It is good that the economist and other media shares these concerns, because now this might up to build to critical mass to really change some of the weak points in the system. I thought about using the graph published next to the paper, but once I discovered the animated version of the graph i fell in love. See for yourself below. (PS false positives: another reason why not only to rely on statistical testing!)
- – edit: i changed the title of the pot… the first title was a bit pretentious –
“TEDx BrainTrain is a side event of TEDx Maastricht and is organised in collaboration with Dutch Railways and the SocialCoupé. In the intercity train between Maastricht and Amsterdam Central Station, inspiring talks by interesting speakers will be held in the same way as the main TEDx Maastricht event in the theatre at the Vrijthof”
Interestingly, one of the speakers is Diederick Stapel, a former
clinical social psychology researcher with so far 54 retracted publications. The speech is quite similar to his book, which i’ve read out of interest in his part of the story: it sounds nice, but I don’t really understand what the message is. What struck me most is the part where he describes why he “invented research data and blew up his career as a scientist”:
“I became detached from myself (…) I lost my passion and desires… my personal goals became less important than my professional goals, and my professional goals completely overtook me”
This sounds weird to me…is good research practice not a ‘professional goal’? I am lost with this guy…
Edit: on the LUMC PhD-day, a day long PhD fun organised by the VAO, I will give an interactive workshop (together with TdC) on scientific integrity to the PhD students of the LUMC. This workshop is titles “How NOT to become the next Diederick Stapel”. Lesson 1: don’t think that inventing research data to get published is the right way to adhere to your professional goals!
During “conference season” I visited several conferences: ISTH, eurostroke, WEON, NVTH, UK-CIM and the ERA-EDTA. During all conferences I got the opportunity to present my own research, except for during the ERA-EDTA. For this conference I was asked to teach in a CME course on how to perform and interpret a clinical research project. The program:
– Setting up your study: study questions and study designs
Vianda Stel, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
– Threats to validity of study findings: bias and confounding
Kitty Jager, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
– Prognosis vs aetiology
Friedo Dekker, Leiden, the Netherlands
– Interpretation and presentation of study results
Bob Siegerink, Leiden, the Netherlands
Since this is a conference on kidney diseases, the examples that I use are from that field. Although not necessarily my field, I believe that the talk can be of interest for anybody who is at the start of their research career. Please click the picture below to see the talk (slides + audio)