16 hours = overnight, 64 hours = overweekend, > 7 days = forgotten about
January 8, 2013 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Your scientific Twitter hashtag of the week: #overlyhonestmethods

And she cried more, more, more. And a cat.

(Page title stolen from @S_J_Lancaster)
posted by maryr (36 comments total) 79 users marked this as a favorite
oh my god I'm dying. This is amazing.
We incubated this for however long lunch was. #overlyhonestmethods
baahahahahahaha, the truth, it hurts my diaphragm
posted by en forme de poire at 12:03 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

Some context, from the second link:
Why did you incubate that sample for 16 hours? Because you wanted to go home for the day - but that much detail is not in your paper! Last night, a few scientists on Twitter started sharing their “overly honest methods”, and today the #overlyhonestmethods hashtag exploded with lots of funny and true stories about scientific experimentation. There are thousands of tweets, still coming in, so I can’t show you all of them, but here is a selection of some of my favourites:
Then a bunch more stories of scientists being lazy/clever.
posted by notyou at 12:04 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Stop it, you're killing me here! This is possibly even funnier than whatshouldwecallgradschool.
posted by Scientist at 12:11 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

We don't know how the results were obtained. The postdoc who did all the work has since left to start a bakery.
to plagiarize elizardbits: halp
posted by en forme de poire at 12:11 PM on January 8, 2013 [14 favorites]

"We chose these instrument settings because the display froze in the 1980s and no-one knows how to reset it" AHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
posted by Scientist at 12:13 PM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]

"Blood samples were spun at 1500rpm because the centrifuge made a scary noise at higher speeds."

For some reason, this reminds me of my favorite e2 node "No user serviceable parts inside."
posted by griphus at 12:19 PM on January 8, 2013 [17 favorites]

Ah, e2. The TV Tropes of its day, except with more drugged-out free association and painfully earnest undergraduates.
posted by brennen at 12:21 PM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]

*ahem* Here's one from personal experience: collection of sample 4 shows a time delay because the researcher was a bit preoccupied with throwing up in the sink. #overlyhonestmethods

Data was analysed using in-house Perl-scripts. They are terrible and possibly wrong so please don't ask for them. #overlyhonestmethods"
Where I come from, we call that "postdocware".
posted by aperturescientist at 12:22 PM on January 8, 2013 [12 favorites]

Where I come from, we call that "postdocware".

For someone who doesn't even have a masters, I sure have written a lot of this.
posted by brennen at 12:24 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's the full-sized picture.

posted by griphus at 12:24 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Stolen, thanks!
posted by en forme de poire at 12:25 PM on January 8, 2013

Another honest (and true) method:

Incubate samples for 2 hours but upto 3 days is ok if there is a lot of fresh power in Tahoe.
posted by special-k at 12:25 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

so yeah I've been laughing like a complete doof since this was posted. Thanks, maryr.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:28 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

#overlyhonestsocialsciencemethods: We are presenting a meta-analysis of the literature (because we didn't know anybody we could ask.)
posted by WidgetAlley at 12:43 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

This is fabulous.
posted by OmieWise at 12:45 PM on January 8, 2013

oh my.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:12 PM on January 8, 2013

These seem to break down into two categories:

1. We did it this way due to serendipity, availability of resources, etc. But given those choices, we did the experiments conscientiously, and recorded and analyzed our data as correctly and accurately as we could.

2. We know we cut corners and ended up with some probably trash data and/or analysis, but we're going to try to excuse ourselves anyways. (The one blaming the supervisor's Australian accent was a particularly egregious example of this category.)

I find one of the categories to be significantly funnier than the other.
posted by eviemath at 1:13 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I dunno, there were definitely some bad ones (fishing for significance, dropped samples, etc) but the accent one I chose to read as a misunderstanding rather than a nonunderstanding. That is, the grad student thought they understood correctly and proceeded in good faith but turned out to have heard wrong, rather than they didn't understand but forged ahead anyway rather than asking for clarification. One is just a thing that unfortunately happens sometimes, while the other is the classic blunder of being too afraid to ask questions of one's supervisors.
posted by Scientist at 1:37 PM on January 8, 2013

Metafilter: After the experiment is over, gently open the bottom valve and fang it all down the gurgler.
posted by lalochezia at 1:51 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

You forgot 3. We didn't know what condition to use so we picked one and things just happened to work (and might very well have worked if we used our second, third, or fifty-seventh choice of conditions) but now I'm writing this up and feel obligated to explain why I picked the condition and don't really have an explanation.

I once heard of a case where someone did a huge DoE exercise, found a condition that really improved his on the edge of acceptable spike recovery and was then told by his boss to use another condition because that was the more typical for that kind of assay. I'm glad I didn't have to write the development report on that.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:57 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

but the accent one I chose to read as a misunderstanding rather than a nonunderstanding

Oh, I think it was definitely a misunderstanding, but the recounting has a certain defensiveness and externalization of responsibility to it that rubbed me wrong. But it could be I'm just grumpy today:P
posted by eviemath at 2:14 PM on January 8, 2013

Research project subjects were chosen because they had already signed consents for another project (mine).
posted by Peach at 2:15 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

"experiment was repeated after all original data was lost due to the lab across the hall correctly synthesizing 2c-b"
posted by elizardbits at 3:18 PM on January 8, 2013 [9 favorites]

This is the hilarious flip side of common science journal euphemisms.
posted by Paper rabies at 3:23 PM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]

This is too long for twitter, but I posted an abbreviated version: "Yields were not recorded, and thus are listed as follows: 'Lots left over after characterization = 80%, barely enough for characterization = 30%'"

I know a grad student that works like that, which I'm not fond of. Her actual research isn't in synthesis, but still, it strikes me as a bit lazy.
posted by Canageek at 5:59 PM on January 8, 2013

Loved the cat one.

Today, I added Taq twice to my PCR reactions because the new rotating grad student wouldn't stop asking me about quantum entanglement. We are a C. elegans lab. Hopefully this ends well.
posted by ltracey at 7:09 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I thought the Australian accent one was hilarious, but having minimal lab experience, I'm sure there are plenty I'm not getting.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:15 PM on January 8, 2013

Has anyone else noticed that most of these are biology-related? I wonder why that is. I choose to believe that it's because biologists have better senses of humor than chemists or physicists.
posted by Scientist at 9:21 PM on January 8, 2013

Scientist: The people who started it are biologists, which may have biased it. Also, it could be there are more biologists on twitter, which would match my personal observations.
posted by Canageek at 9:28 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have seen lists of science journal euphemisms such as Paper rabies linked to on the doors of chemists and physicists too. I think it's just that the different branches of science don't mix enough for multi-discipline lists of jokes to appear on websites anywhere.
posted by eviemath at 10:00 PM on January 8, 2013

In linguistics there are so many papers where the methods could be summarised as "We used a qualitative approach because quantitative ones scare us."
posted by lollusc at 10:42 PM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]

Scientist, there was this great one from the non-applied side: "We cited Habermas in the beginning so that folks would know we are Theorists"
posted by gusandrews at 10:55 AM on January 9, 2013

O I got one: We only did 4 transects that day because there was a dead elephant in the transect and it stank too much.
posted by dhruva at 1:28 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

"When we said "incubate for 7 days" we meant zero days. And just Googled the supposed results. I'm going to hell."

Who the fuck would tweet this under their own name?
posted by Blasdelb at 9:02 AM on January 18, 2013

Yeah, that's not writing to obfuscate shortcuts. That's just lying.
posted by maryr at 10:28 AM on January 21, 2013

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