Research group: Up to 85% of medical research funds may be wasted

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From University of Plymouth at Eurekalert:

Funders need to take more responsibility for the efficiency of the research they fund

It has been estimated that up to 85% of medical research is wasted because it asks the wrong question, is badly designed, not published or poorly reported. Health research around the world depends heavily on funding from agencies which distribute public funds. But a new study has found that these agencies are not as open as they could be about what they are doing to prevent this waste and that governments responsible for the public money they distribute are not holding them to account.

The findings come in response to a question posed by a letter published on-line today, 9th March 2017, in The Lancet. It asks how transparent the funding agencies are about the policies and procedures they use to reduce waste and support methodological research and research infrastructure, and what they are doing to secure best value for taxpayers. The study was carried out by an international team of researchers led by Dr. Mona Nasser of Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry.

It arose from challenges laid down in The Lancet’s series on reducing waste and increasing value in medical research, published in 2014. More.

Much of the problem arises from the glorification of science as a special way of knowing truth, irrespective of who is doing it and why. Science journalists bear much of the blame.

One expects media in free countries to be sources of constructive criticism. North American political writers, for example, are generally worth reading, even when they call it wrong (see Brexit and US 2016). At least, one reasonably expects the political hacks will give themselves the right to give themselves a swift kick and get up to speed. They don’t necessarily feel they need to glamorize, let alone worship, their subjects in order to write about them. That fact alone sharpens thinking skills.

But the science writers’ cheerleader attitude (Sci-ENCE! Sci-ENCE!) has delayed efforts to address the huge problems of waste and fraud in research, probably for decades. To ay nothing of failures to even try to replicate findings.

It’s got so bad, it won’t be easy to fix. One must start somewhere. Today is always best.

Resources on research waste reduction. Keep up to date with Retraction Watch

See also: Peer review “unscientific”: Tough words from editor of Nature

and

Science writing in an age when we ran out of pom poms to wave

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