17 May 2007

Current favorite-screw-up-by-other-research-assistant

As some of you know, one of my (least) favorite tasks at the research job is to take over a study from another RA. My main reason for (not) liking this is because the study is usually screwed up in some way - data collection, study design, bad analysis, you-name-it. And then I have to fix this, which neccessitates pointing out what is wrong to my boss which then makes me feel like a rat.

Like the current POS, er, study I am trying to fix so the fellow can get her article out of it and get herself a job. 2/3 of the data was collected by the fellow, the other 1/3 was collected by one of my fellow RAs (who no longer works for us because she moved up in the world and got a new job). The data collected by the fellow is pretty robust, few few mistakes and most of those are entry errors I would have caught during analysis (i.e. getting the date wrong because your finger typed 2006 instead of 2005). The data collected by the RA....ai-yi-yi (I should have known this was coming because this same RA made tons of data collection errors on another study that I'm trying to piggyback a new analysis off of - and I find myself essentially recollecting the previous data because it's full of holes). My personal favorite mistakes so far today? The one where the RA listed the subject as being male (when the subject is really female) and the next subject on the list was listed as deceased at the end of current admission (when she was both an outpatient as the time of study entry and had completed a physician's office visit two days ago). GAAAAAAHHHHHHH!! An undergrad could do better than this (and would be cheaper, too).

I promise I'm really not an obsessive-compulsive science rat, but I'm not attaching my name to ANYTHING that could potentially suck this bad. This is why science gets a bad rap - sloppy work. Sloppy. Sloppy. Sloppy.

Current book-in-progress: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (for the SF group, and I'm a little behind, but I just got the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Award for Translation winner by Pevear and Volokhonsky, so I got kind of excited about it again.
Current knitted item: The shrug - I'm working on the ribbing for the first sleeve.

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