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August 6, 2014

Assessing Value in Biomedical Research: The PQRST of Appraisal and Reward

Author Affiliations
  • 1Departments of Medicine and Health Research and Policy, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California
  • 2Department of Statistics, Stanford University School of Humanities and Sciences, Palo Alto, California
  • 3Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS), Stanford University, Palo Alto, California
  • 4Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
  • 5National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
JAMA. 2014;312(5):483-484. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.6932

Production of scientific work is regulated by reward systems. Scientists are typically rewarded for publishing articles, obtaining grants, and claiming novel, significant results. However, emphasis on publication can lead to least publishable units, authorship inflation, and potentially irreproducible results. Emphasis on claiming significant results leads to lack of publication of nonsignificant high-quality studies or to massaging data to obtain “positive” results. Emphasis on novelty leaves no incentives to spend resources on replicating prior findings to probe their correctness. Data owners have a publishing advantage without incentives to share with competitor scientists.

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