The Seven Deadly Sins of Researchers

Steve Simon


I was reading an article in written by Steven Goodwin, The Seven Sins of Programmers, published in issue 17 of the Free Software Magazine and thought it would be fun to use a similar theme in research.

So here are the seven deadly sins of researchers. Lest I be accused of the sin of pride, let me admit that everyone, including myself has been tempted by and has indulged in some of these sins at one point in their research career.

Pride: Researchers often think they know better than anyone else how to do research, so they ignore existing precedents in designing their studies.

Envy: Researchers usually avoid replicating important studies because their work would stand in the shadow of the first research team.

Sloth: Researchers will often take the easy way out, wanting to get a quick publication rather than creating a research result that is truly useful.

Gluttony: Researchers will frequently present as many tables, graphs, and tests in a publication that they can, in the hopes that at least one of these will end up convincing the reader that their study is worthwhile.

Lust: Researchers are sometimes so desirous of showing a particular outcome that they twist all of the available research to fit their model of the world.

Anger: Researchers are usually unfairly harsh in the critiques of other researchers whose findings that they find unwelcome or uncomfortable.

Greed: Researchers will often overstate the clinical significance of their findings in the discussion section.

I’d like to elaborate on each of these points in later weblog entries.

You can find an earlier version of this page on my old website.