Hi Dr. Collins. Due to the rising number of retracted papers and errata in the biomedical sciences and the lack of reproducibility of many key study results, it seems like the scientific community needs better quality control than our current peer review system provides. Does the NIH have any initiatives being developed to promote more reproducible science and better communication of science?
What Collins did not say:
One effective way to stop retractions is to promote the senior author to be NIH director. Unfortunately, there are not too many slots left.
For reference (NY Times 1996) -
Dr. Francis S. Collins, the head of the Government’s project to map all human genes, said yesterday that he was retracting five research papers on leukemia in leading scientific journals because a junior colleague had fabricated data.
The flawed papers involved laboratory research on the role of a defective gene in producing acute leukemia. The research did not involve patients or treatment of the disease, nor was it directly related to the gene-mapping project.
Upon learning of the problem in mid-August, Dr. Collins said in an interview, he ‘‘thought it was an isolated instance whereby a trainee in my laboratory manipulated the data.’’ But two weeks later, after examining the colleague’s laboratory notebooks and testing material in the freezer, he said, ‘‘the significance and the scope of the fabrication in this circumstance, of which I had not the slightest idea, began to be very apparent.’’
Collins essentially blamed ‘junior author’ for even the two-author papers and took no responsibility at all.