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Of lab notebooks and leaders in science

Good research practices are often said to work against the current success model in science (based on positive results, number and impact factor of publications, etc.). Changing the way we work requires the current science leaders to act as role models and set good examples. We applaud Dr Frances Arnold, a Nobel Prize winner, for retracting a Science paper with the following explanation: “Careful examination of the first author’s lab notebook then revealed missing contemporaneous entries and raw data for key experiments. The authors are therefore retracting the paper.“

Why is this example so important?
First, there are still way too many labs that have no lab notebooks at all that makes it even impossible to explain to them what the raw data actually means and why it is so important to have the raw data meet key expectations (e.g. being contemporaneous).
Second, as a true leader, Dr Arnold took a personal responsibility for this error (see her twit HERE).

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