Eugene Garfield in his editorial on “Recognizing the Role of Chance” (May 2, page 10) touches upon a point of more realistically reporting the role of serendipity in the research process. This is only one aspect of the publication of scientific papers that needs more discussion and consensus among scientists.
I have long felt that the gloss of a hypothetico-deductive style in a research paper may overstate the degree of support for an author’s claim, if the data were actually obtained by a combination of chance events and inconclusive experiments.
It is often said that the pressure on scientists to publish papers arises from the need to obtain research grants and to advance their careers. I believe that, in addition, there are more mundane pressures to publish a paper of partly finished research. Such a paper can result when a student’s M.S. or Ph.D. thesis has been judged...