Scientists Make Mistakes. I Made a Big One.

A researcher learns the right thing to do when the wrong thing happens

Image: Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Getty Images

When I identified the error, I was shocked. I felt physically ill. I had published something that was objectively, unquestionably wrong.

When I found the mistake, I was home alone on my laptop — working late in the evening. While I sat in the dark (crying), I briefly considered what would happen if I never told anyone. The bug was hard for me to identify; maybe no one else would ever find it. I could just go on with other research and nobody would ever know.

Julia is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. She studies speech perception and spoken word recognition. @juliafstrand