Student Researcher Figures Journals Will Understand if They Guesstimate the Last Bit

CORNELL LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY—After being barred from entering her lab, student researcher Rose Schwartz ‘21 speculated that scientific journals would cut her some slack if she fudged the numbers a little bit in her study of bird genomics.

“I understand that publications like Science and Nature have pretty high standards for their journals, but I think we all recognize how exceptional the circumstances are,” said Schwartz. “If I include a letter about how hard it will be for me to get into a good grad lab without getting published, I’m sure they’ll give me a little leeway with the data quality.”

Schwartz, who is investigating rates of genetic diversification in clusters of finch species from two Pacific archipelagos, expressed dismay at having her research cut short but is confident that the peer-reviewed publications would make some exceptions for her, noting that the remaining work was “just some sciency stuff.”

“I just have, like, one or two birds left to analyze,” Schwartz reasoned. “I already have a pretty good hunch about what the data is going to look like, so I think I can just throw that in there with a little note. Besides, they can’t only publish articles about COVID-19, right? That would be so bland—they’ll definitely appreciate the variety.”

Schwartz continued to assure herself that her live research animals would have no problem fending for themselves in the lab until September.

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