I've been seeing a Guardian article around twitter this week which has kind of hit a nerve. It was this post about having your blog plagiarised. Not because I've had the same thing happen to me, but because I've been known to be a bit worried about telling people too much, too early about what I'm working on.
This is the second year that I'm going to Popgroup (The UK population genetics/evolution conference) and not talking about the work that I'm hoping to publish in the near future, because we're too worried about plagiarism (Last years work ended up in this paper). This was due to the fact that both analyses were fairly simple to do, they just hadn't been done that way before, and someone could pretty easily have gone and replicated the study and beaten us to the punch.
But would they?
Although I, along with my colleagues, wanted to protect against competitors, is it actually that likely that anyone would have gone and replicated it? After all, there would be a room full of people who saw me present the work, it'd be pretty obvious if someone who was there then went and published it a couple of months later.
Science is littered with examples of people 'borrowing' bits of other peoples data (the whole Watson, Crick, Franklin debacle being the main one we think about in genetics). But, maybe we should give people the benefit of the doubt more. There are lots of advantages of talking about your science as it progresses, people can pick you up on mistakes and pitfalls and you can get new ideas to improve the work. So, in the spirit of open science, I think I'm going to try to be a bit more open in the future, I hope it doesn't come back and bite me.