Tuesday, March 24, 2009


We all make mistakes. Perfection, much as we would like it to be a standard part of the human condition, is not something that any one of us can claim. But, when doing science, it can happen and it is one of the hardest things to do to admit to a mistake. In all of the cases that have happened with me, it occurs during the sanity checking phase of an analysis.

But the problem is that finding issues with the analysis (i.e. did we define a quantity correctly) unnerves collaborators. Rather than being happy that we are having a good "back and forth discussion" and being pleased that the issues have come up early, it seems to shake confidence.

I think that this tendency to react badly to these issues is actually harmful. Mostly because it makes analysts less likely to speak up if they suspect that something is wrong. And, should I ever become an independent investigator, I really want people to speak up if there is an issue with data or analysis.

So I am not sure how to structure these interactions to provide the best possible outcome!

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