Monday, October 08, 2012

When the science is bunk, peer review is complicity - Denyse O’Leary

Here’s a bit from my latest Salvo: “Bunk Science If Peer Review Is Working, Why All the Retractions?” (Salvo 22, Fall 2012):

C. Glenn Begley, a former researcher at the biotechnology firm Amgen, which funds cancer research, offers a sobering example: when Amgen redid the published experiments of 53 "landmark" cancer studies, it could not replicate the original results in 47 of them. As reported in a Reuters news article:
Part way through his project to reproduce promising studies, Begley met for breakfast at a cancer conference with the lead scientist of one of the problematic studies.
"We went through the paper line by line, figure by figure," said Begley. "I explained that we re-did their experiment 50 times and never got their result. He said they'd done it six times and got this result once, but put it in the paper because it made the best story. It's very disillusioning."
Not only that, but some study authors made the Amgen scientists sign a confidentiality agreement preventing them from disclosing data that contradicted the study authors' original findings. So we may never know which ones couldn't be replicated.
Peer review is not much use against problems at this level. These people are the peers.

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Denyse, your informed and insightful posts continue to provide interesting perspectives to encourage, inform and inspire.
Thank you.

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