There are often disparities in the way given structures or ideas should be and the way that they are actually implemented or carried out. Mertonian principles of science- communism, universalism, disinterestedness, and organized skepticism- succinctly outline the way that science should function. However, there are countless examples of people who prioritize their own fame and reputation over the good of the greater scientific community. Thus, while Mertonian principles successfully characterize the way science should be, they do not portray the way the field exists in reality.

One prime example of selfishness dominating the scientific community is in the case of Rosalind Franklin, Francis Crick, and James Watson. They operated together under the principle of communism to investigate the structure of DNA, yet they still maintained some suspicion of each other. Only bits and pieces of information would be shared, while other discoveries would be kept guarded away. Franklin would have gotten credit for the discovery of the double helix nature of DNA, but Watson and Crick stole the information from her office just before she released the research. She died before she was given credit for her work. This drive for recognition by Watson and Crick represents the general attitude of jealousy and selfishness shared by many scientists. When so much fame is awarded for research, scientists are not motivated to collaborate on projects like Merton outlines.

It is also difficult to implement disinterestedness in science. People tend to invest their time and energy in subjects that they are interested in or passionate about. A lack of interest could slow projects or result in no research or discovery at all. With this, it is hard to distance oneself from projects enough to successfully accomplish organized skepticism. People are not always willing to admit mistakes on their part when the research is so impactful. While it is important to sketch the methods science should operate within, it is also imperative to acknowledge that the principles are not always implemented due to human nature.