Have any of you been following this hashtag lately? It’s absolutely brilliant!
What started with one neuroscientist, dr_Leigh, venting her frustration (and sense of humour!) with her student by tweeting that ’ incubation lasted three days because this is how long the undergrad forgot the experiment in the fridge #overlyhonestmethods’, has snowballed into loads of other scientists around the world revealing the often-hilarious realities of life in the lab.
For any of us who have been there, rigging up experiments with make-do-and-mend equipment (I used to call it the ‘scotch tape and toothpicks method’) the tweets ring true and will make you laugh (with agreement and relief). For those who haven’t been there, reading these tweets brings a refreshing blast of honesty to sweep away some of the misconceptions that laypeople have about scientists.
Guess what- they are just like everyone else!
Their work is often confusing and messy. They are overworked, underpaid and fuelled by caffeine, sometimes they cut corners, like anyone who gets tired of repeating the same lengthy process a dozen times over. Occasionally that corner-cutting leads to a new method, and better results. Sometimes they spend far too long thinking of witty titles for their papers, because it might mean getting published in a higher-impact journal- just like the newspapers favour attention grabbing headlines. Sometimes they set off explosions just to see what happens!
The real nature of science is not perfect experiments designed to demonstrate an unequivocal point, carried out by stern geniuses who never crack a smile- scientists are not just their job- they are people like any of us, who mess up all the time, but try again and learn something from it- even if its just to set a timer on their experiments!
Your students might be amused, and pleasantly surprised to see some of the tweets… Hooray for #overlyhonestmethods- keep it rolling!