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Mahboob Imtiyaz

CEO | Bioflukes, Bioflukes

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A Journal (Journal of Errology) that creates a repository where researchers share their experiences, learned mostly via mistakes

The reasons I am keen about such a Journal are:

* Utilizing human ability to share experiences
* Reducing wastage of time, resources and effort
* Minimizing the learning curve involved and avoiding innovation stagnation

The average at which researchers make any significant contributions to science is fast increasing. This is apparent from the average age increase of Nobel prize winners since the past 5 decades.

Topics: mistakes
progress indicator
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    Jan 9 2012: I think that it is a good idea! Too often researchers just file away their "failures", forgetting that it not finding something can be as important as finding something.
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    Jan 10 2012: Journal of Errology is a really great idea. Undoubtedly, it would have one of the highest impact factors ever, since everybody makes mistakes. But, I am not so sure how willing people would be to report their own mistakes...it's a matter of ego and vanity, unfortunately very ubiquitous in the competitive field of science...or any other field, for that matter. However, I strongly support this idea. It was always my belief that by reporting only positive results we lose a significant amount of data. Negative result, as well as a mistake, but the mistake which has been analyzed and accounted for, that we know what to attribute to, that can give a lot of very valuable information. But I keep wondering what the reviewers in that Journal would ask for the revisions:))) To repeat the same mistake? :D....on that topic: http://www.ted.com/conversations/6727/mistakes_are_necessary_aren_t.html
    • Jan 10 2012: A really important point raised by Ms. Ivana, about scientists not able to share their mistakes and stumbles, only because of their ego and vanity. This is something that we are dealing with a lot right now, with researchers asking us if they can anonymously submit their mistakes.

      I would like to point out Edison's quote here "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." this is the kind of attitude that researchers need to garner.

      Our biggest challenges will be to get researchers to overcome their ego and share their mistakes.

      Thank you again Ivana.
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    Jan 9 2012: Great idea! Also it seems to me that with the possibilities for cooperation via the internet, there should be some way to publish more frequently. Imagine if researchers from around the world could work together on common questions instead of hording their results for years at a time for fear of getting "scooped" before publishing. Obviously we should be using technology to our advantage, and I think you're on to a great idea by using databases to keep track of negative data which may not be exciting enough to wind up in a typical journal, but is nonetheless useful information to have handy.
    • Jan 10 2012: Thank you Letitia. I will keep working towards making this a successful reality... Thank you for the kind words... Stay in touch with us at www.bioflukes.com . We would like to hear about your futile innovations...
  • Jan 9 2012: Before beginning any research, I spend countless hours on the internet trying to see if some one else has done the same experiments before me. If I find someone already carrying out or already carried out the idea with success, I feel a sense of relief.

    However, when I do not find the idea not carried out before, I start wondering if it was tried before and the researchers failed. Many times I just never go ahead with the idea just fearing that I may fail, letting down my PI and others. There are also many times that I spend weeks trying to solve a problem, that researchers earlier already have solved, but neither care to publish it in the research paper nor share it anywhere. Besides there are no places to share such things on the internet.

    I say a Journal like this is very important. I hope you guys gain lot of articles and reach every researcher on the planet.
    • Jan 10 2012: Thank You Jenniffer... I couldn't have said it better myself....
    • Jan 16 2012: @Jenniffer

      I understand what you are saying, but there is an inherent problem in that way of thinking:

      You forget that when you actually carry something out (not just reading about it) you learn something in the process. These lessons can be the most important lessons you will ever learn and will sometimes inspire you to find solutions to other problems. Failures is a way of narrowing the problem field and getting closer to a solution.
      An (overly and maybe stupid) simplified example of this, is learning to svim. You most likely will not learn to svim just by reading about it, you have to "get your hands dirty". Once in the water you might experience the world from another point of view - something that you might have missed just by reading about it.

      Don't get me wrong, some errors are probably not worth reproducing, but you will be the best judge of this yourself.
      • Jan 20 2012: Mr. Hansen, there is an inherent problem in your way of thinking.

        I would like to point out that swimming is more or less dependent on muscle memory, which requires actual practice to be good at it.

        However, when it comes to research, anyone pointing in the right direction seems like a great help. There is a physiological condition known as Confirmation Bias, which a researcher faces, it is a condition where the person with the idea begins to accumulate all the facts supporting her idea, and ignoring everything else. This is actually not just a problem with researchers; entrepreneurs, politicians and economists all suffer from this. It requires a big jerk to get over some ideas that get stuck in your head and make you go crazy. And besides humans are the only creatures that can learn from other people's mistakes, repeating a mistake is just taking a detour instead of the normal way and is a waste of time, which can sometimes even cost you your degree.
        • Jan 20 2012: @Jeniffer

          It sounds like you misread my comments or do not see my point. You can see from previous statement that I tried to convey that the swimming example was an "overly and maybe stupid" example - as you pointed out, for an apparent reason. It was the best I could come up with at that time, so please do not put too much emphasis on that. To some extent however, my point is still valid I believe - if you were only to read about the greatness of failures of others swimmers swimming style and just relied on that, new swimming styles would never surface.

          Also I wrote "Don't get me wrong, some errors are probably not worth reproducing, but you will be the best judge of this yourself."

          My point is - not all experiments are worth reproducing, because they can be costly to reproduce in both time and money but you will never really know, because you might discover something new in the process of reproducing the experiments - something that the previous researchers did not discover. I you were only to rely on other peoples mistakes it would most likely save you some time and money, but you also face the problem of maybe not discovering something new / getting a new idea in the experiment process.

          "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." :-)

          Don't get me wrong - I think this is a great idea (the Journal of Errology) and I can see applications for it all around to be used as a "pointer in the right direction".
  • Jan 20 2012: This is a stonkingly brilliant idea! Sadly, I fear that human feelings such as embarrassment and hubris will ensure it doesn't get very far. Perhaps the people in our world are not yet sufficiently emotionally mature for such a journal - but I hope I'm wrong.
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    Jan 16 2012: I really like this idea! Unfortunately, as others have pointed out, ego and vanity stops many people from sharing their mistakes. Its also cultural. Americans tend to have a high tolerance for failures while Germans tend to see failure as a mark of shame.

    I was actually thinking of this journal in a business or IT startup context. People often have so many learnings of stuff that just fell flat or didn't work out - but there isn't yet one common space to share and document this knowledge. A 'Journal of Errology' for business and IT startups is an excellent idea and would help businesses be more efficient and startups avoid the mistakes of previous entrepreneurs.
  • Jan 10 2012: Journal of Errology is a new concept, something which is necessary also. As Ms.Ivana has said in the previous comment it is uncertain about how many people will be willing to share the failures. It will really be helpful to future research by limiting the unnecessary repetition of errors. But i don't think there is a dearth of scientists who will gladly share their "not so sweet" experiences for the sake of the benefit of science.
  • Jan 10 2012: It is nice to see that many people share similar views. We have to make people look at the scientific experiments & results of these experiments with a different perspective. After all, there is nothing as 'failure' in science. Every new thing we come across during any experiment whether expected or unexpected can be attributed to something. All one has to do is analyze it to find what's behind it instead of sweeping it under the carpet. The study of so called failures itself can open a treasure trove of knowledge.
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    Jan 9 2012: There is an app in development for the journal you speak of it is coming out of Dubai and is being created by two TED speakers from TEDxDubai. It is "The Human Project" eventually it will allow the citizens of the world a collective database of information for humanity and our destiny. A centered approach to research. I wrote about it recently on my blog, but it's also up at http://thehumanproject.us/
    • Jan 10 2012: Sounds great... Something I will sure look into...
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    Jan 9 2012: Six Sigma methodology includes a tool called Root Cause Analysis. It is designed to perform a post-mortem on failed processes, experiments and ideas. The idea is to prevent future repeats of the same error(s).
    • Jan 10 2012: Thank you very much. The tool looks interesting. Wonder how it works and if it will work in the same way for life science research purposes....