Questionable Research Practices in Data Collection

From The Embassy of Good Science

Questionable Research Practices in Data Collection

What is this about?

Numerous ‘misbehaviours’ are associated with the data collection phase of research, from the intentional misconducts of fabrication, to lesser but more frequent ‘sloppy’ research practices such as poor note taking or inadequate data storage.

Why is this important?

The importance of the data collection phase cannot be overemphasized. For research results to be trustworthy, the underlying data needs to be of a high quality. ‘Misbehaviors’ related to data collection identified by research integrity experts[1] include:

  1. Collect more data after noticing that the results are almost statistically significant  [unless specified in a predefined adequate plan for interim analysis –  also called ‘peeking’]   
  2. Fabricate data
  3. Stop data collection earlier than planned because the results are already statistically significant  [unless predefined stopping rules are implemented appropriately ‐ also called ‘peeking’]
  4. Not adhere to pertinent laws and regulations  [including the laws and regulations for human and animal studies, safety regulations, good clinical  practice, good laboratory practice etc.]   
  5. Inadequately handle or store data or (bio)materials  [including archiving for an appropriate period]   
  6. Keep inadequate notes of the research process  [with (digital) lab journals or its equivalent in other types of research]   
  7. Ignore basic principles of quality assurance (From Bouter et al 2016[2]).
  1. Bouter, L.M., Tijdink, J., Axelsen, N., Martinson, B.C. and Ter Riet, G., 2016. Ranking major and minor research misbehaviors: results from a survey among participants of four World Conferences on Research Integrity. Research Integrity and Peer Review, 1(1), p.17.
  2. Bouter, L.M., Tijdink, J., Axelsen, N., Martinson, B.C. and Ter Riet, G., 2016. Ranking major and minor research misbehaviors: results from a survey among participants of four World Conferences on Research Integrity. Research Integrity and Peer Review, 1(1), p.17.

For whom is this important?

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