Mark MacDiarmid on negative results

"We tend to reward people who consistently confirm their research hypotheses rather than those who do not."

- Mark MacDiarmid, writing in The New Scientist

In a recent Letter to the Editor, MacDiarmid, a reader from Australia, points out that scientific fraud, as exemplified by the South Korea stem cell scandal, may reflect a deeper problem. Although negative results are arguably as or more important than positive results in the process of knowledge accumulation, it is only the latter that can easily find a home in a peer-reviewed journal. Desperate for the career advancement and funding rewards that positive results bring, is it any wonder that some people are driven to cheat?

Or as MacDiarmand nicely puts it, "Whether it is a drug company, a cloning king or a university department, the ability to pick a winner is a significant asset that translates not just into kudos, but increasingly into hard cash."

You can read his entire letter here.