Angry scientists

I recently covered the news that a government report has recommended an independent body be set up to ensure that scientific research maintains its’ integrity. But I’ve been surprised at how scientists within the report and in journalists have reacted with consternation at what seems like a perfectly legitimate suggestion.

When I spoke to Andrew Miller, the MP who chaired the select committee who delivered this report he said

“If I ask the question; do we need a mechanism to prevent repeat occurrences of the Andrew Wakefield MMR scandals, most people will say yes.”

I would say yes. Nobody is suggesting that science is somehow rotten through and through, but it makes sense that the people to ensure this should be outside the profession. If we allowed lawyers or politicians to regulate themselves people would be in uproar. Of course peer-review shouldn’t be done away with – never – but to me it seems clear that there are gaping holes in the system and an independent regulator would be a huge help in plugging them.

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