Perhaps we should shut down Nature rather than RIKEN?

Lenny Teytelman Jun 22, 2014

I am simply stunned to read that the STAP debacle might lead to the closing of RIKEN. The investigation found severe lack of oversight, throughout the hierarchy of the institute.

I am stunned because if we do assign blame past the authors of the stem cell papers, shouldn't most of it fall on Nature for publishing? Perhaps we should shut down Nature?

I am not joking. It's not just Nature - it's our entire way of publishing and pre-publication peer review that we should shut down. RIKEN seems to be singled out here and blamed for the ills currently plaguing Academia. The hyper-competitiveness of job searches, funding lottery, broken peer review, publishing/impact factor - the problems are systemic and pervasive. The post "Dear Academia, I loved you, but I’m leaving you. This relationship is hurting me. " captures just how wide-spread and deep the problem is right now.

The above post is anonymous, but I can say that the top research institutions mentioned in it are in North America. I have no doubt that had the RIKEN investigation been carried out at MIT, Harvard, Stanford or any other top university, the conclusion would have been the same. 

Shutting down an institute is simple but unhelpful. We shouldn't shut down RIKEN/Harvard/MIT. We should fix Academia instead.



Apparently, it's not the entire institute of RIKEN but the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) that is in danger.

Also, please see "Why is everyone STILL piling on that STAP woman?" from Arjun Raj (a follow up to his original post on this).