(Image source: lofaesofa / flickr)

BY STEVEN SPARKMAN
ANCHOR ZACH TOOMBS


A new Twitter hashtag is letting scientists vent some frustration — and pulling back the curtain on their profession.

The hashtag is #overlyhonestmethods. It’s a spoof of the methods section of a scientific paper, where scientists detail how they did the experiment so others can reproduce their work.

Only these methods are a little more ... overly honest.

Like: “Samples were randomized by allowing my cat to walk all over my computer keyboard.” (Via @ItsAFez66)

And: “I can't send you the original data because I don't remember what my excel file names mean anymore” (Via @mangoedwards)

Or the very meta: “We used jargon instead of plain English to prove that a decade of grad school and postdoc made us smart.” (Via @eperiste)

The hashtag is being praised by science bloggers, who appreciate a good inside joke as well as anyone. (Via Corante, Oscillatory Thoughts)

io9 called it amazing and The Huffington Post called it hilarious.

But is it also maybe a little troubling? After all, a lot of the tweets describe sloppy science, cutting corners and sucking up to reviewers.

Science writer Anne Buchanan says part of it is simple human error and laziness, but quite a bit is about perverse incentives.

“This is all driven by the ‘business model’, and the rush, rush, rush to publish and spend. … But when this is how we train our students, we sow seeds of a problematic future.”

And another blogger at SciLogs told stories of seeing papers with fatal flaws that were just shopped around from journal to journal until someone took it.

But while those problems are troubling, they aren’t the fault of the hashtag. To that point, writer Ed Yong says the laboratory confessions can help illuminate the world of scientific research to outsiders.

“Anything that humanises science, and moves it away from ‘MOAR FACTS AND BREAKTHRUS’ is a good thing in my book.”

 

Scientists Get Too Honest About Methods on Twitter

by Steven Sparkman
0
Transcript
Jan 9, 2013

Scientists Get Too Honest About Methods on Twitter

 

(Image source: lofaesofa / flickr)

BY STEVEN SPARKMAN
ANCHOR ZACH TOOMBS


A new Twitter hashtag is letting scientists vent some frustration — and pulling back the curtain on their profession.

The hashtag is #overlyhonestmethods. It’s a spoof of the methods section of a scientific paper, where scientists detail how they did the experiment so others can reproduce their work.

Only these methods are a little more ... overly honest.

Like: “Samples were randomized by allowing my cat to walk all over my computer keyboard.” (Via @ItsAFez66)

And: “I can't send you the original data because I don't remember what my excel file names mean anymore” (Via @mangoedwards)

Or the very meta: “We used jargon instead of plain English to prove that a decade of grad school and postdoc made us smart.” (Via @eperiste)

The hashtag is being praised by science bloggers, who appreciate a good inside joke as well as anyone. (Via Corante, Oscillatory Thoughts)

io9 called it amazing and The Huffington Post called it hilarious.

But is it also maybe a little troubling? After all, a lot of the tweets describe sloppy science, cutting corners and sucking up to reviewers.

Science writer Anne Buchanan says part of it is simple human error and laziness, but quite a bit is about perverse incentives.

“This is all driven by the ‘business model’, and the rush, rush, rush to publish and spend. … But when this is how we train our students, we sow seeds of a problematic future.”

And another blogger at SciLogs told stories of seeing papers with fatal flaws that were just shopped around from journal to journal until someone took it.

But while those problems are troubling, they aren’t the fault of the hashtag. To that point, writer Ed Yong says the laboratory confessions can help illuminate the world of scientific research to outsiders.

“Anything that humanises science, and moves it away from ‘MOAR FACTS AND BREAKTHRUS’ is a good thing in my book.”

 

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