To the Editor:
In “Research Scrutiny” (The Chronicle Trends Report, February 29), you present a dangerously misleading characterization of industry-sponsored research and zero evidence industry funding is more likely to increase research misconduct.
You claim that in “the last few years, the reliability of research generally has inspired significant hand-wringing. Often that worry has focused on scientists who collect or select data until dubious results become significant.” The suggestion that predictability is suddenly leaving science is incorrect; discovery science has never been reliable. Research results that fail to prove a hypothesis are not “dubious;” they are evidence that cutting-edge science is hard and that hoped-for outcomes usually result in disappointment.
More importantly, you ignore an obvious truth: Nobody gains more from accurate, verifiable science than industry. The market is an unforgiving arbiter of both performance and value and companies will derive no benefit by fudging research in order to produce defective products for customers to purchase. Instead, you exploit America’s most popular binge: company bashing. Everyone’s out to get banks, pharma, and “big business,” conveniently forgetting the vast majority of the millions of U.S. corporate employees represent the absolute sweet spot of the American middle class.
Masquerading anecdote as a basis for policy insults most university’s dedication to objectivity. It is ironic that it was The Chronicle of Higher Education that delivered this sermon.
Vice President, Global Technology Assessment and Healthcare Policy
Cook Medical Inc.