Please do not try to tell a story but report your results

When I prepared a lecture last year on scientific paper writing I have found countless advices how to tell a story – it made it even into elife.

Don’t do that – there are lies and damned lies (Disraeli) while you are easily running into a trap when trying to “tell a story”.  Preregister your study plan, tell the world what you did right from the beginning, what did not work, why you repeated an experiment or why changed your opinion.

Writing a story from the backend distorts the proportions and misdirects attention. Ulrich Dirnagl highlighted this problem in an earlier talk here in March using the following two slides.

How we present results in a basically linear way – story telling. By NIH QUEST/Dirnagl.
How it would be fair to tell the story with numerous inputs, non working assay (primer, antibody, other samples), new literature and conference talks, where we constantly change our opinion that could have led to alternate papers. By NIH QUEST/Dirnagl