Jocelyn Fox, a second-year graduate student, has just begun the experimental phase of her training program. She has initiated studies of novel agents on nitric oxide (NO) synthase, most recently in a controlled experiment involving a compound identified as SR582. In her first attempt at the experiment, Jocelyn made an error in dilution causing her inadvertently to test the compound at a concentration much higher than called for in the protocol. This yielded results quite different from those expected. She showed the data to her mentor , Professor Collins, who suggested in essence that she ignore the experiment because of the error. "In testing each compound, we always stop at a one nanomolar concentration," he said, "and have been able to compare stimulators and inhibitors quite well."
Jocelyn repeated the experiment, starting with the correct dilution, but then extended the experimental range all the way to a five nanomolar concentration (see Figure 1).
Her plotted results were almost identical to the earlier curve obtained as a consequence of her dilution error and seemed to confirm the inhibitory effect she observed at greater than 1 nanomolar concentrations of SR582. Professor Collins was unimpressed when shown the data and suggested that she proceed to the next phase of the experimental plan now that she had mastered the technique.
How should she write up the standard experiment, given her doubts about the narrow range of the curve?
What are Jocelyn's obligations in writing up the data? To herself, as first author? To her mentor? To her institution? To science itself? What should Professor Collins have told Jocelyn to clarify the situation?