PaperHive Conversations: Peter Grabitz


Please share a piece of advice for
young researchers and another one for more experienced ones.

Young researchers: Question! Question what? Basically everything. You are just entering a system that seems to be rigid and reluctant to change. But is in fact not. Curiosity and the will to improve are a magic mix to champion new methods and challenge old standards in research! Be bold!

Experienced researchers: Don’t stop innovating! Often we get comfortable with established techniques and approaches. But this is not how it should work. Try something new every day!


Which one is your favorite PhD comic?
(What are some challenges or difficulties you have encountered during research?)

Great Tweets of Science
Source: PhD Comics/Jorge Cham

What sparked your interest in medicine?
Is there or was there an alternative to your career path?

I was mostly intrigued by the idea to not decide what to do exactly when I started med school. It is 6 years of study and afterwards you can still more or less decide which way to go. Hospital, research, office work, in Germany, Europe or elsewhere is still possible. I don’t regret the decision, my studies brought me to Argentina, Brussels and currently I am conducting research in Montreal, Canada. Where after? I still don’t know yet – a lot of alternative career paths are still possible!


Which are your favorite sources for articles?

I usually search pubmed/medline for articles. Increasingly I find new papers and articles on twitter first – through following people who are interested in the same topics.


Who are the contemporary researchers that have influenced you the most?

John Ioannidis, he is an epidemiology rock star and started discussions around the reproducibility crisis in science. Currently, I am working with citation network analysis and there are a few papers that make really good news of them! Have a look at Trinquart et al for example: Why do we think we know what we know? A metaknowledge analysis of the salt controversy


How would you explain the broader significance
of your work to non-researchers or academics from other disciplines?

I am trying to show how scientific hypotheses and belief systems are created and evolve over time. In other words: How do researchers establish ideas and concepts? I take the example of angiogenesis inhibition in breast cancer. The idea is to stop the growth of new blood vessels, which ultimately stops cancer from growing, because it depends on them. This belief has been around for some decades, but recently some big trials failed – is this because negative results that do not fit the belief system are just not taken up by the research community?


How can you and other researchers in medicine benefit from using PaperHive?

I believe PaperHive helps initiating a paradigm shift! At the moment researchers think just until publication. Once their research is accepted in (non)prestigious journal xyz, their job is done. Finito. Case closed. No discussion, no critique, no improvement or further thoughts are put on the publication. This can change with PaperHive: Introducing a culture of “post-publication” discussions, allowing the community to engage in constructive and meaningful exchange after publication will allow scientists to collaborate better – This is how research should work.