Danger, explosive material: the dynamite plunger plot

(This was originally written with University of Toronto immunologists in mind, but this material certainly applies to anyone else thinking about committing this sort of atrocity. Hopefully I’ll get around to posting some R code later as well.)

You tremble with excitement and fear at the front of the conference room, your fingers reaching for the trackpad on your laptop, about to display the first glorious bit of results from your project. Sitting in front of you are three other people – it’s your first committee meeting.


Your nervous grin slowly gives way to confused look as your eyes wander to the committee member to the right. She firmly sets her coffee cup on the table, her fingers trembling.

“Martha, what’s wrong with this figure?” asks your supervisor, seated to the left.

Martha splays several fingertips on her forehead, ventilating heavily in an attempt to avoid an outburst of anger.

“Is it the data?” asks your supervisor.

“No. The problem,” mumbles Martha, “is how it’s displayed. No one should ever use these types of plots.”

“Martha, I demand that all my students use these plots. Every single time. No exceptions. Why complicate things? They’re easy—”

“What?! That is complete garbage and you know it!” growls Martha, staring into the soul behind your supervisor’s eyes.



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