1. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Research dilemma - deuling Doctors!

    Discussion in 'Research' started by NaCl, Nov 26, 2009.

    Here's a research dilemma...I am presently completing a manuscript involving a terrorist attack using a lethal virus. My research was complete and based on the advice of a PhD virologist with 20+ years in bio-research. This week, I ran the key chapters by another friend who is a PhD molecular biologist (professor). Guess what...he disagreed with the methods and conclusions proffered by research source number one. What the hell do I do now? One says the story's premise is both realistic and a serious threat to national security. The second PhD says the crude virus replication laboratory in the story would not produce sufficient quantity of virus for the scope of the terrorist attack and that the method of attack would not result in widespread infection. I'm still waiting for the FBI's Prepublication Review Department to provide feedback.

    How would you handle conflicting research advice from equally credible sources?

    edit: curse my dyslexia...the subject should be spelled "dueling Doctors"
     
  2. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Tricky one for sure. Aside from waiting for further verification as you are doing, what I'd be tempted to do is use the scenario to your advantage. You could have quarreling doctors in your story when it came to analysis of the threat. I assume at some point, the experts are called in to present their findings to a governent-like body - one party could be ultimately accurate, the other overly or underly cautious in his predictions. This would probably lend a great sense of credibility to the manuscript. Good luck.
     
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  3. apathykills
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    apathykills Contributing Member

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    Like i said previously, researching your subject to make sure you are writing about a viable threat is more then most writers do and i think you've done enough.

    You are not writing a documentary but a piece of fiction, so i'd suggest simply going with the doctor that verifies your way of production.

    I wouldn't even mention the guy that say's it won't work because it will take away from the certainty of what you are writing. Most readers will know jack**** about replication anyway.
     
  4. InkDream
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    InkDream Senior Member

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    Well that's science for you. Peer review is a big thing in the scientific world, so if you have someone disagreeing with the other source you want to get more feedback for sure. If it were me I would talk to more specialists if at all possible. Ask them what they would suggest to make it more credible. Check out any local universities, I'm sure you could set up a meeting with some of their professors to pick their brains.

    That's assuming you want to be politically correct in your writing. It's kind of a cop out but you don't necessarily have to change the story. Most readers would have no idea that the research and theory wasn't spot on. It is fiction, after all.

    Good luck.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    since you'll never get a consensus, just go with what works best for your plot... and if it causes controversy in the scientific world when/if the book is published, that'll just make it sell better!
     
  6. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    LOL...ever the pragmatist...thank you, mammamaia...and, as usual, I believe you're right on.

    FYI - I consulted a local biology professor for another opinion. She says both virologists are "right" and that the risk of successful contamination would vary depending on which PhD you believed, but both opinions allow a serious threat to public safety.
     

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