Competition among scientists for funding, positions and prestige, among other things, is often seen as a salutary driving force in U.S. science. Its effects on scientists, their work and their relationships are seldom considered. Focus-group discussions with 51 mid- and early-career scientists, on which this study is based, reveal a dark side of competition in science. According to these scientists, competition contributes to strategic game-playing in science, a decline in free and open sharing of information and methods, sabotage of others' ability to use one's work, interference with peer-review processes, deformation of relationships, and careless or questionable research conduct. When competition is pervasive, such effects may jeopardize the progress, efficiency and integrity of science.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The aim of this study is to analyze the effects of competition as reported by scientists themselves. The analysis is based on data from focus-group discussions held as part of a national study on integrity in science. The study, ‘‘Work Strain, Career Course and Research Integrity,’’ was funded by a collaborative program between the federal Office of Research Integrity and the National Institutes of Health; the study was approved by the Institutional Review Boards of the HealthPartners Research Foundation and the University of Minnesota. It had two data-collection phases (focus groups and a national survey), and the present analysis is based on the focus groups.
Acknowledgements This research was supported by the Research on Research Integrity Program, a collaborative program between the Office of Research Integrity and the National Institutes of Health, grant #R01-NR08090. Raymond De Vries’ work was also supported by grant #K01-AT000054-01 (NIH, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine).
- Ethics in science
- Research integrity