Just Published Commentary on Data Management and Research Misconduct

I really appreciate the blog Retraction Watch. I used this source heavily in writing my first book, Data Management for Researchers, and regularly cite stories from the blog in my teaching. It’s a fact of science that errors occur, and Retraction Watch makes those errors – both accidental and intentional – transparent.

The transparency brought about by Retraction Watch is part of a larger movement (see efforts such as the Center for Open Science and PubPeer) to stop scientific errors and research misconduct from occurring. It can be difficult to expose and fix such problems, but this is all part of the self-correction process that is fundamental to scientific research.

And here’s where data management comes in: good data management also prevents scientific errors and can curtail misconduct investigations. This is because managing data well results in a clear accounting of what was done to the data, in addition to well-organized and available data files. So when someone has a question about your research, it’s easy to put your hands on the relevant data and documentation to prove exactly what was done.

I had the honor of co-teaching a workshop about the relationship between data management and research misconduct at last year’s RDAP Summit with Heather Coates and Abigail Goben. And the ideas behind that workshop were recently published in the special RDAP issue of the Journal of eScience Librarianship as the commentary, “What if It Didn’t Happen: Data Management and Avoiding Research Misconduct“.

I’m not going to repeat the arguments of the commentary here in this blog post, but I will say that there are a lot of useful case studies in this area and there’s definitely potential for more work to be done on this topic. So I encourage you to jump over and read the commentary, and start thinking about the ways that data management can prevent research misconduct.

Citation: Coates, Heather, Abigail Goben, and Kristin Briney. 2023. “What if It Didn’t Happen: Data Management and Avoiding Research Misconduct.” Journal of eScience Librarianship 12(3): e746. https://doi.org/10.7191/jeslib.746.

Edited to add: the commentary was featured in the weekly round up on Retraction Watch on 2024-01-06!