Friday, 5 February 2016

The open data bun fight, why experimentalists and analysts need to collaborate more.

I can understand why the people who collect the data want to protect their hard work and their grants against research parasites. The problem is that people like me who have spent their careers working with methods and thinking about the statistics are probably in a better position to carry out the analysis.

I have seen too many badly designed experiments that have wasted research funds because the experimentalists did not talk to the statisticians or the analysts. They end up with a badly designed experiment with so many flaws that it is practically useless.

Collaboration would be good for everyone. Yes it does mean one or two more names on the paper but the analysts don't want to be the submitting author so long as their contribution is recognised. Where being an analyst/bioinformatician/statistician will get annoyed is if someone treats them like a technician and not an equal party and collaborator. Analysts contribute equal skills to experimentalists, they are just different. Neither are more or less important and I have done both (I was an x-ray crystallographer solving protein structures as well as a molecular modeller using protein structures).

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