When a colleague with shaky data raced a competitor to be first to publish, I saw how the perverse incentives in research work
There’s an oft-repeated phrase in the scientific world that “competition drives innovation”. This can definitely sometimes be true, but in my experience the reality most of the time is that competition can be hugely wasteful and damaging to research.
Take our lab, where we work in several high-profile areas. We’re aware that we have several major competitors around the world. We want to be first, we need to be first and we must keep it secret. Doing this can make or break a career, or decide a grant application outcome. It can even shape the future direction of the field.