Reputation, the end of papers, and databases anonymous?
I recently brought up the idea that we should not have names on papers on grants, that everything should be anonymous.
Last week, I went to a panel on the ubiquitous "leaky pipeline". Of course the panel devolved into the usual disorganized bitching session, and I sat there and listened to senior women professors who said they had witnessed first-hand on study sections that men support each other to such a degree that when someone submits a crappy grant, and everyone on the section knows it is crappy, his buddy will get up there and vouch for him.
He'll say something like, "Well, this might look bad, but I know this guy, and he does good work. And apparently, that is frequently enough to change the score the grant receives, and get it funded.
They said women don't do this for each other. But when I suggested that the idea of reputation makes no sense in science, that it's too subjective, everyone yelled out that reputation is VERY IMPORTANT!
As if what I was suggesting was absolute heresy, and just showed how little I understand about... what? How good science is done? How good science is deemed good?
Granted, these are the same women who said point-blank that they really do believe there are inherent differences between men and women, so I can't say I think any of them are all that bright. I'm sure not a one of them ever studied the effects of culture and socialization on behavior-!
What I take from all this frustrating stupidity is that senior scientists, and most distressingly, senior women scientists, want to sit on their laurels. They don't want to go back in the pack with everyone else. If we removed reputation from the variables of evaluation, they would have to work a lot harder. And nobody in a senior position wants to do that.
I've probably said this before, but I really do think we could get rid of all this crap if we had centralized databases, where every scientist at every level gets their own personal reference number, and every piece of data gets deposited so that everyone can have access to it. Sure, we could still measure productivity by the number of pieces you deposit, and you could still refer to other people's data, so you could still have something like a 'citation index' to rank people. But it seems to me that even the people who claim to want to get rid of the competitive, wasteful system we currently use, are not willing to give up their reputations in order to make a collaborative effort toward advancing science.
I guess this goes in the category of: people are fundamentally selfish, and the reason most scientists are in science is because they think it's fun, not because they want to help serve the 'greater good.'