I haven’t been blogging that much lately, as I’m tethered to the task of finishing revisions on a book (on the philosophy of statistical inference!) But I noticed two interesting blogposts, one by Jeff Leek, another by Andrew Gelman, and even a related petition on Twitter, reflecting a newish front in the statistics wars: When it comes to improving scientific integrity, do we need more carrots or more sticks?
Leek’s post, from yesterday, called “Statistical Vitriol” (29 Sep 2016), calls for de-escalation of the consequences of statistical mistakes:
Over the last few months there has been a lot of vitriol around statistical ideas. First there were data parasites and then there were methodological terrorists. These epithets came from established scientists who have relatively little statistical training. There was the predictable backlash to these folks from their counterparties, typically statisticians or statistically trained folks who care about open source.
There’s an important guest editorial by Keith Baggerly and C.K. Gunsalus in today’s issue of the Cancer Letter: “Penalty Too Light” on the Duke U. (Potti/Nevins) cancer trial fraud*. Here are some excerpts.
publication date: Nov 13, 2015
Penalty Too Light
What does it say about our national commitment to research integrity that the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Research Integrity has concluded that a five-year ban on federal research funding for one individual researcher is a sufficient response to a case involving millions of taxpayer dollars, completely fabricated data, and hundreds to thousands of patients in invasive clinical trials?
This week, ORI released a notice of “final action” in the case of Anil Potti, M.D. The ORI found that Dr. Potti engaged in several instances of research misconduct and banned him from receiving federal funding for five years.
(See my previous post.)
The principles involved are important and the facts complicated. This was not just a matter of research integrity. This was also a case involving direct patient care and millions of dollars in federal and other funding. The duration and extent of deception were extreme. The case catalyzed an Institute of Medicine review of genomics in clinical trials and attracted national media attention.
If there are no further conclusions coming from ORI and if there are no other investigations under way—despite the importance of the issues involved and the five years that have elapsed since research misconduct investigation began, we do not know—a strong argument can be made that neither justice nor the research community have been served by this outcome. Continue reading
Findings of Research Misconduct
A Notice by the Health and Human Services Dept
AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, HHS.
SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that the Office of Research Integrity
(ORI) has taken final action in the following case:
Anil Potti, M.D., Duke University School of Medicine: Based on the
reports of investigations conducted by Duke University School of
Medicine (Duke) and additional analysis conducted by ORI in its
oversight review, ORI found that Dr. Anil Potti, former Associate
Professor of Medicine, Duke, engaged in research misconduct in research
supported by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI),
National Institutes of Health (NIH), grant R01 HL072208 and National
Cancer Institute (NCI), NIH, grants R01 CA136530, R01 CA131049, K12
CA100639, R01 CA106520, and U54 CA112952.
ORI found that Respondent engaged in research misconduct by
including false research data in the following published papers,
submitted manuscript, grant application, and the research record as
specified in 1-3 below. Specifically, ORI found that: Continue reading