This great Open Access paper reflects upon mistakes made in psychology research and the degree to which they are the central cause of mistakes, breaches and misconduct.
Errors are an inevitable consequence of human fallibility, and researchers are no exception. Most researchers can recall major frustrations or serious time delays due to human errors while collecting, analyzing, or reporting data. The present study is an exploration of mistakes made during the data-management process in psychological research. We surveyed 488 researchers regarding the type, frequency, seriousness, and outcome of mistakes that have occurred in their research team during the last 5 years. The majority of respondents suggested that mistakes occurred with very low or low frequency. Most respondents reported that the most frequent mistakes led to insignificant or minor consequences, such as time loss or frustration. The most serious mistakes caused insignificant or minor consequences for about a third of respondents, moderate consequences for almost half of respondents, and major or extreme consequences for about one fifth of respondents. The most frequently reported types of mistakes were ambiguous naming/defining of data, version control error, and wrong data processing/analysis. Most mistakes were reportedly due to poor project preparation or management and/or personal difficulties (physical or cognitive constraints). With these initial exploratory findings, we do not aim to provide a description representative for psychological scientists but, rather, to lay the groundwork for a systematic investigation of human fallibility in research data management and the development of solutions to reduce errors and mitigate their impact.
human error, data-management mistakes, research workflow, life cycle of the data, open data, open materials, preregistered
Publisher (Open Access): https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/25152459211045930