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When Scientists Get #OverlyHonest

This is a guest post by Adam Ruben, PhD—molecular biologist, television host on the Discovery Channel’s “Outrageous Acts of Science,” and author of the book “Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School.” The opinions expressed are his own. 

Like One Direction, light-up shoes, and every Transformers movie, Twitter hashtags are for 13-year olds. But one hashtag in particular recently caught the attention of adult scientists, and it’s a funny one: #OverlyHonestResearchMethods.

Cartoon by Andres Alfonzo

If you haven’t seen it yet, go search for the hashtag #OverlyHonestResearchMethods the way one searches for a hashtag (which is to say, ask a 13-year old).

But why stop there? As long as we’re being OverlyHonest with each other, how about some other OverlyHonest science hashtags?


  • We will not fund your proposal because one of our reviewers dislikes you as a person.
  • We did not fully read your proposal because reading scientific things is boring.
  • We rejected your proposal because your science is spectacular, but your font is 10 point Arial instead of 11 point Times New Roman, and we’re morally okay with this requirement because we’re ridiculous.


  • I ate cat food last night.


  • My cat ate adjunct professors last night.


  • I didn’t write my lab report because I’m just going to graduate and work for my dad’s investment consulting firm anyway.
  • I didn’t write my lab report because I had a better offer involving beer and someone else’s bed.
  • I didn’t write my lab report because I don’t write most things. It’s just my gestalt.


  • If you eat this chemical, you will have earned the fate that will befall you.


  • When you said you wanted to become a doctor, we thought you meant something else.


  • I actually secretly love grad school. Please don’t tell anyone. That would diminish my frequent complaints.

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