High-profile academic fraud a symptom of underlying dysfunction

Melonie Fullick, University Affairs, Jun 17, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The case under discussion in this article involves a study purporting to show that a brief conversation about an issue with a canvasser dramatically impacts survey results. It turns out there were issues of credibility and the journal retracted the paper. But while the individual involved is certainly responsible, argues the author, so is the system. "If you build a system that rewards this kind of performance then you should expect unpalatable results to emerge. If you want a gamified system, people will find ways of gaming it... We can’t complain about high-profile cases like this without also engaging in some critical reflection on the system in which such incidents can happen. We can’t say we want to hire the best people, when only one particular, narrow version of 'best' is noted and rewarded."

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