From Northwestern prof Laurie Zoloth at Cosmos:
Independently verifying research can help science regain its credibility
Wow. There’s hope.
Zoloth is willing to talk in terms of regaining “credibility.”
In short, all those frustrated people are not the “enemies of science.” Loss of credibility is an objective problem resulting from recent events:
Even in physics, reports of the discovery of gravitational waves in March 2014 were later dismissed. Drug companies conducting clinical trials neglect to publish the entire data set, potentially hiding unfavourable results. But drug companies are also victims. In 2011, drug company Bayer reported it could replicate only 25% of published findings related to drug targets for cancer, women’s health and cardiovascular medicine. In 2012 the company Amgen could only replicate 11% of cancer research results. This is shocking, but also understandable.
She goes on to cite competition for grant money, competition among science journal editors for “high impact research and advertising,” and the unpaid nature of peer reviewing.
She might have added the citation/review scams whereby groups of peers work together to inflate the importance of easily deflatable results.
I’d add the fact that science writers tend to act as cheerleaders for “science.” Few name writers are asking the hard questions. John Horgan comes to mind, but he wouldn’t stand out in a crowd; at times, it seems, he is the crowd.
Each link in the chain encourages dishonesty.
She hopes for some help from replication studies, traditionally not funded because they aren’t supposed to be “cutting edge”:
Nosek says major psychology journals have started publishing replications alongside original research. A reproducibility project for cancer research is next.
What will be the impact? Knowing that research is going to come under replication scrutiny may lift the game for researchers and the journals that publish them. More.
How about this as a slogan?: Replication studies are cutting edge. They cut the crap from science, leaving the good stuff.
If there isn’t a lot of good stuff in a given science area, we will have at least cleaned up the joint, to start work on better stuff.
See also: If peer review is working, why all the retractions?
new stuff at Retraction Watch
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