Mistakes and errors in research may occur due to various reasons. Every research is susceptible to errors and mistakes. Broadly speaking there could be two reasons for these mistakes and errors: one because of laxity and negligence on part of the researcher, research team, or research supervisor; two it could be due to some human error that is not conscious. Here we will discuss some of the reasons for mistakes and errors in research. We will see how we could avoid these mistakes and errors.
Common mistakes and errors in research
- These mistakes and errors can result due to the scientist’s believe in innovating the techniques and procedures that are normally applied and used by the researchers. The reason for doing so can be in the interest of the researcher to discover something new. Often discoveries occur when human being think out of the paradox. The scientist though has a social and professional responsibility to not waste time and other resources just for the sake of his curiosity. The quest for knowledge and betterment of humanity should be the sole focus in every research.
- These errors can also result due to scientist’s believe in a research question that does not prove to be well-defined and researchable. The researcher would like to take risk and test something new that is beyond the scope of the research. Passionate researchers are always interested in knowing about new frontiers. Studying something new and that has been never researched is not free of risk but it could help in making new discoveries.
- These mistakes may also arise due to some confusion in selecting the research methodology, data collection, or data interpretation. Sometimes the researcher believe in one interpretation of data and that interpretation is totally against what the respondent believed and wanted to share. Any confusion if not solved at that point would lead to another confusion if the researcher moves on to another step of the research. If any confusion is identified it should be resolved before moving forward.
- The errors can also result due to biases and prejudice that the researcher introduced into the research analysis. The researcher might have some beliefs related to the research question that are difficult for the researcher to segregate while collecting and analyzing the data. The researcher can avoid such biases by using techniques like triangulation, accountability, peer review, corroboration etc in qualitative data. In quantitative research the researcher should make sure that the instruments being used are well calibrated, the recording of the readings is done with care, and the readings are taken as many times as the risk of error could be cleared.
- Small errors can occur in research writing that go unnoticed during proofreading of the manuscript. Today there are several software that help the researcher in avoiding any grammatical and spelling errors in the research. There can still be some mistakes that the software could not help you with a human proofreading and review of the final manuscript i necessary to make the research error free.
- Negligence on the part of the researcher in no way can be accepted. Those researchers who carelessly work on scientific projects only disgrace science and does not meet scientific standards.
The most honest and experienced researcher can be prone to such mistakes as human beings are not free of errors. The error should not arise due to the carelessness and negligence on part of the persons involved in research. If any error is identified after the research publication the researcher, publisher and the editor of the journal/book has a responsibility to correct it, accept it, and make it knowledgeable to the readers.
- On Being a Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research. (2009). 3rd Ed. The National Academies Press. Washington D. C. Pp-12-14. https://www.nap.edu/read/12192/chapter/5#13
- “Why Science Needs Metaphysiscs”. Nautilus. http://nautil.us/issue/29/scaling/why-science-needs-metaphysics