Hilarious Scientific Proofreading Error Lets Us Know How Scientists Really Feel
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— Robert Lanfear (@RobLanfear) November 11, 2014
A paper published four months ago in a scientific journal contained the above hilarious and unsettling mistake. I don’t know if I should be more disappointed in the scientists’ editing skills, the journal’s peer-review skills, or the crappy Gabor paper.
The Freudian slip somehow made it all the way to publishing in the journal Ethology in July, though it was removed yesterday after it came to the attention of the Internet. In good news, it looks like the error was at least made after the peer-review process according to Zach Culumber, one of the authors on the study.
No, this was not intentional. It was added into the paper by a co-author during revision (after peer-review). It was unfortunately an oversight that became incorporated into the paper during the process of sending the manuscript back and forth between co-authors. The comment in question was not spotted during the proofing process with the journal. Neither myself nor any of the co-authors have any ill-will towards any other investigators, and I would never condone this sentiment towards another person or their work. We are working with the Journal now to correct the mistake. As the corresponding author, I apologize for the error.
So we don’t have to start questioning the entire scientific publishing process just yet. In bad news, that means that the Gabor paper being crappy is not a verified, peer-reviewed finding, so we can’t know the validity of the claim of its crapitude. That will remain one of the great unsolved mysteries of science.