When competition adversely affects the quality of scientific research

When competition adversely affects the quality of scientific research

“Research is the discovery of things that others do not. So it is by definition a form of competition. You have to take it “, Said Antoine PetitIn World, On February 14, he was re-appointed chairman of the CNRS. Except for triggering a long list of negative effects of competition, not everyone agrees, the development of individuality, barriers to cooperation, secret culture, wasting time and money. To compete …

“There are always many opinions on this subject, but some informative ones”, Recalled Pierre Azoulay, professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Therefore, the interest in a work to be reviewed by colleagues will be renewed at the beginning of the year. Carolyn Stein and Ryan Hill received their PhDs from Stanford and MIT at Brigham Young University, respectively. Demonstration for the first time Negative effect of this competition: It gives low quality results … “We often hear people talk about this relationship between competition and negative effects, but it’s event-based, so we’d love to see what the data can say.”Caroline Stein in brief.

Their method is brilliant. As a field of competition, the two studied structural biologists thanks to X-rays in the form of a protein linked to its function. The data is deposited in the Public Database Protein Data Bank (PDB) for public use.

Risk of competition

Two researchers describe the behavior pattern of this community of biologists. The latter decide to determine the protein structure, the time it will take them, by estimating their expected returns (based on quotations from their article in subsequent works) and the human resources to be allocated to it. . But they have to take into account the risk of being overpowered by competitors. “This is a real-world simplification, but experts in the field have told us it’s enough.”, Says Caroline Stein. This dilemma is explained by the very simple mathematical model between the time allotted for their work and the second fear, which has good taste in providing predictions and above all its variables can be calculated.

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Thus, the quality of the research is measured by the accuracy of the three-dimensional structures obtained. The time spent and the number of people involved are in the database. You can also access the number of competing teams by studying how many protein structures are deposited there. Finally, the “potential” of a search is evaluated by two, using an instrument that predicts how many times the article will be quoted, an indicator that is certainly controversial, but is widely used to assess the credibility of a work. This prediction is based on an analysis of the structure types more or less cited in the past.

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