#overlyhonestmethods: You aren’t alone.

The #overlyhonestmethods meme on Twitter was haled as amazing science communication, and fretted over as new potential source for public misconception of “Researchers are lazy,” and then, like all memes, it died out. And yet, it still has value. In the archives of tweets, I see common themes emphasizing that research is robust, and that scientists are human. The first speaks to the strength of science as an approach to problem-solving and decision-making, while the second breaks down isolation.

Experimental design can be serendipitous, curiosity-driven, equipment-driven, just-for-fun, clarifying, or even post-hoc, yet still be productive. Equipment has limits, is adapted, breaks, and repaired, yet still functions anyway. Incubation times can be flexible or unintentional, sampling times, locations, and methods can be convenient or limited by accident or practicality, yet still produce valid data. Put this all together, and the implication is that science is robust, repeatedly producing compatible conclusions no matter how exactly we go about testing them.

Data and paper access is a serious liability that we work around. This is an ongoing, unstable situation that will keep changing quickly enough to make anything I write instantly dated.

Even though scientists use programming and statistics, we aren’t always graceful about it. When it comes down to it, some of the actual, serious, legitimate and effective methods we use are pretty silly if you don’t mask them in formal language. Scientists sing while we work, want our data to be pretty and really, really, really don’t want to die. It turns out, scientists are human. And what better way to combat impostor-syndrome isolation than to really, truly believe that?

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