Ok, I was going to save this for the Friday linkfest, but it’s too good to wait. If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to check out the drop dead HILARIOUS Twitter hashtag #overlyhonestmethods! It appears that every scientist in the world has simultaneously decided to joke about how the scientific sausage is made. “The study site was chosen because I wanted to go to a warm beach.” “More research is needed because we’ve already started, and we’ve already got money to do it.” “Sample size was reduced to save my marriage.” And on and on it goes–go now, check it out!

HT The EEB and Flow, who want you to know that they are not dead yet.

13 thoughts on “#overlyhonestmethods

  1. Also, I’ve always been kind of glad that the start of deer gun season (on Nov 15th) makes it unsafe for us to continue sampling past that point. (I actually have put in the methods of a paper that that is why we stop sampling when we do.) If not, our overly honest methods would have to say that we stopped sampling because it’s really damn cold in Michigan in late November/early December.

  2. Here are some of mine (too long to tweet):

    “The population dynamics were plotted on a log scale to enable clear display of rare species. Well, that, and to make the sampling error look small, so that the dynamics look like they’re Lotka-Volterra.”

    “The experiment lasted 60 days. It would’ve been longer, but we wasted the first two months of the summer on failed pilot experiments for another project. And then we had to stop the experiment in mid-August when our summer student went on vacation.”

    “The species used in this experiment coexist in nature. Because while no one knows squat about the distribution of freshwater heterotrophic ciliates, there’s like a bazillion ponds in the world, so there has to be at least one that contains all the species we used.”

    • On the protist tip:

      “Species were chosen because they were the only ones available in pure culture”

      or for those who can’t afford type cultures:

      “Genera (or maybe even families) were chosen from the selection available in the Carolina Biological catalogue”

      -and for the microbiologists-

      “we used a BLAST cutoff of 1E-6 to determine which lab strains of E. coli and Streptococcus were present in the gut of our deep-sea crab”

      • Yeah, your second one is basically true. 🙂 A related one is “Species were obtained from Carolina Biological Supply. In many cases as contaminants in the cultures of the species we originally intended to use.”

        That third one is hilarious!

  3. Now I’m thinking of variants on this hashtag. I haven’t come up with any great ideas so far, but perhaps I’ll inspire others to come up with better ones:

    “Consider a system defined by [equation]. Clearly, we have [totally different equation].” #Fishermethods (R. A. Fisher’s derivation of the Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection was so brief and opaque it took decades for people to figure out what the heck he was talking about)

    “I don’t have anything new to say but I need to post something to keep the traffic coming in, so I’ll repackage an old post and disguise it with links to some economics blogs, throw in a few zombie jokes, and call it good.” #JeremyFoxbloggingmethods

    • One excellent variant that has sprung up: #overlyhonestreviews. Two from @mickresearch: “I’ll start my review with some weak platitudes because I don’t want to crush the author, but this ms is utter rubbish.” and “Your attempts to flatter me by citing my work would have been more successful if you had not misrepresented my views.”

  4. Pingback: The study that almost made me quit grad school | Dynamic Ecology

  5. Pingback: System Envy and Experiment Failures | Dynamic Ecology

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