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Shared goals score reproducible results

Nature volume 533, page 36 (05 May 2016) | Download Citation

As every manager knows, the goals of the employee and the organization must be aligned for success (A. Edwards Nature 531, 299–301; 2016). In my experience of industry and academic research, there is no such driver in academia.

Academics' goals are to confirm that their ideas are correct, to publish quickly and to solicit extra grant money, whereas the goal of their funding agencies is to better society. Industry and its employees have a common goal — to develop a saleable product.

This alignment means that there is little individual incentive in industry to fabricate data: drugs developed from flawed preclinical results, for example, are doomed to fail expensive multi-centre clinical trials. Irreproducibility in academic research is all too common (see Nature 515, 7; 2014); in industry it is a sackable offence.

There is still some stigma attached to academics with close ties to industry, but funding agencies would do well to take note of these individuals. People in industry are not interested in working with those whose results are not reproducible.

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  1. Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, Nelson, New Zealand.

    • Eric Buenz


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Correspondence to Eric Buenz.

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