Scientific Review

Posted on June 15, 2007  Comments (1)

This is the way science should always work:

Here’s the short version. Dr. Hall made a mistake in the software he wrote to do something. Another scientist, Dr. Otto, saw the mistake, contacted Dr. Hall and told him about it, and the two of them worked together to confirm that it was in fact a mistake. Recognizing the error, Dr. Hall has now retracted the paper and is working to ensure that people quickly learn that the conclusions are in error. Knowing that will keep others from using Dr. Hall’s original conclusions in their own work, which means that they won’t be starting from a position that’s wrong.

And that, ladies and gents, is exactly how this thing called “science” is supposed to work.

Great post. Interesting comments too. It is not any easier for scientists (than anyone else) to admit mistakes, but scientists view advancing scientific thought as the most important factor. By exposing papers to colleagues the community’s collective effort is brought to bear on finding any weaknesses and to building on the new knowledge to advance scientific understanding further.

Related: The Future of Scholarly Publication

One Response to “Scientific Review”

  1. MorganLighter
    June 17th, 2007 @ 9:05 pm

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all scientists, of all ilks, acted this way. The plethora of articles that are out there, where results were skewed,or hidden,or down right fabricated, is unconscionable. Most of this atrocious behavior is perpetrated by the pharmaceutical industry (my opinion) and the FDA seems to look the other way. Hats off to Drs. Hall and Otto.

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