A set of guidelines could trigger positive action.
You are an early-career scientist poised to publish a paper that you think will be your big break. It describes your imaginative hypothesis — a potential scientific insight with substantial implications — along with the experiments you designed and constructed, and the carefully documented data that support your initial insight. It’s a genuine advance for the field and will be widely cited. Your lab head will be satisfied. Job done!
Then, disaster. You wake in the small hours and realize a possible flaw: another way in which the data could be interpreted, that would throw the conclusion into doubt. No one else will spot the problem — the lab head is too busy and no editor or reviewer will realize — and further experiments to settle the issue will take time. Worse, fresh results could sink the hypothesis (and subsequent grants). So, do you publish anyway?
Of course not! Science puts the pursuit of truth above all else, right? Well, not always. The dilemma above is a real one faced by real scientists, and not all of them jump the right way. What can help them to make the right decision? Some scientists think it might help to discuss this idea: “Pursuing the truth means following the research where it leads, rather than confirming an already formed opinion.”