Making a meal of it
In ‘Putting research to the test’ (October, p31), Robert Matthews suggests that students should do exactly that – subject the published results of professional scientists to further scrutiny.
Undergraduates in Glasgow University’s Chemistry Department, in 1971, were indeed asked to repeat procedures described in a peer-reviewed journal. We found that the original authors’ conclusion was, as Glaswegians say, ‘mince’. Our lecturer agreed. However we were never told why this erroneous paper remained, leatherbound, on our library shelves.
Presumably it takes a degree of moral courage to challenge the findings of establishment figures, especially if they can influence your future career.