Thursday, February 6, 2014

Anonymous comments and policing research

I'm a big fan of anonymous posts and comments. Like tenure: it (mostly) absolves you from the consequences of your written actions. I posted anonymously for the past few years before creating this blog, but I try to attach my blogdenity (blog identity) now since my blogdenity is still anonymous.

This got me thinking about this anonymous corporate reporting program my company started. It's a worldwide program where if you hear something suspicious (like a product not working like it's supposed to), even if it's from someone in the street that uses one of our products, we have to report it. It's supposedly anonymous, and I reported something I found scientifically unsettling. It doesn't involve a product directly, but a method of validation for early stage products.  My manager approached me today to ask me about this, since it couldn't have came from too many sources. I said "yup", knowing that he can't do anything about it. Nothing has been done to me, and nothing has changed in the science. Side note-part of me attributes this to BS science. Not bullshit, but Bachelor of Science. It's cheaper to high people with BSs most of the time, so the quality of science isn't that great. In grad school we're trained on properly designing experiments, processing data, and documentation. These BS level engineers are trained in the basics of science and the details of implementation of principles to design. They're not capable scientists without further training. Anyways...

In industry there are several levels to police the company, but self-policing is rare because of the money on the line. Although you would think there'd be more self-policing because of the lives on the line in the medical industrial setting. In academia, there seems to be a communal policing method, with researchers calling out one another, and new programs being created to catch falsified information. I pitched the idea of communal policing at a conference at the FDA, where one company would review anothers' FDA filings.  The review company would naturally want to scrutinize the data to prevent the filing company from releasing a successful product. At this point everything's moving to public information like patents so there's nothing to hide. I know that the reviewing company will probably make stuff up, so there will need to be oversight from the FDA, but damnit, I think it's a good idea. 

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