In which I admire their honesty

Kudos to Mateja Erdani Kreft of the University of Ljubljana and Horst Robenek from the University of Münster for telling it like it is:

You don’t often see such candor in the methods section of your local journal article – so much so that recently, the #overlyhonestmethods hashtag went viral on Twitter.

Jokes aside, this got me to thinking: how much of our knowledge of biology is influenced by the distinctly unbiological 5-days-on, 2-days-off rhythm of our investigative patterns (assuming that turbo-gunner 24/7 lab commando types are in the distinct minority amongst boffins)? If cell culture experiments were fed every day, would a different outcome result? How much does periodicity matter? Is it a phenomenon worth studying in its own right?

The mind boggles. Except, of course, on Saturdays and Sundays.

About Jennifer Rohn

Scientist, novelist, rock chick
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5 Responses to In which I admire their honesty

  1. cromercrox says:

    As an editor I suspect salami-slicing. They have a parallel team doing the same research 24/7 to see if the results are different. Then they can submit a jokey paper somewhere on the effect of weekends on research.

  2. I have loads of three-day experiments that are commenced on Friday and left to rot ferment incubate until Monday. It turns out that three days is a harmonious time-point for many cell-related processes. For which I am grateful, having left my 80-hour-week-turbo-gunnery long behind me.

  3. Heather says:

    Same goes for studies ostensibly designed to test the effects of acidity and hypoxia, most likely.

  4. cromercrox says:

    The best way to avoid such problems is to become a palaeontologist. Fossils, being dead, keep office hours.

  5. Steve Caplan says:

    There is truth in that, although a lot of cells are not fed daily in any case (including those descended from Ms. Henrietta Laks).

    Having said that, the components of tissue culture media are another highly understudied factor in experimentation. Only in the last ~15 years or so have scientists become aware of the large and rather beautiful “lipid droplets” that are present in all cells (not just adipose), but were not noticed because of the lipid-poor media in which most cells were grown.