In order to reform the way science is disseminated

We started hearing about the “reproduction crisis” in psychology in 2011: on the one hand, research showed how easy it is for a researcher in the discipline to find “false positives,” that is, data that “proves” him to be right; On the other hand, there has been intense debate about a “classic” experiment from 1996, which has been cited more than 2,000 times since then, but never repeated.

By the word “reproduction,” we are referring to a fact fundamental to scientific progress for centuries: to be acceptable, a “discovery” must be able to be reproduced by other researchers. In other words, one search for a “revolutionary” claim is not enough.

But The idea of ​​a reproductive crisis he won Specialties other than psychology. Thus nutrition studies have lost much of their luster in the past decade, and many appear to be specifically designed to capture the attention of the public and the media, at the expense of their scientific qualities.

Finally, although we have long suspected that much of the so-called “primary” biomedical research has not led to promising breakthroughs when we delve deeper, The size of the problem Surprised , says journalist from new world : In 2011, an internal study by Bayer concluded that thirds The results, which the company followed from university research, were unsuccessful. In 2012, Amgen added that out of 53 studies deemed significant, 5 only can be reproduced. C’est en partie la raison pour laquelle, dans la dernière décennie, des journalistes scientifiques se sont mis à marteler encore plus souvent qu’avant qu’il faudrait être très prudent avant de parler d’une étude qui » ne porte mice. Even worse, before his “encouraging” results were revealed.

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The last factor: the pressure placed on researchers by the university and donor system to publish as much as possible – the famous “publish or die”. For example, there has long been a bias towards “positive” results, because researchers whose study yielded negative results would be less inclined to spend time writing the article. We have long complained of the temptation that some magazines are forced to highlight certain titles to attract more attention. Possible solution: enforce “pre-registration” of research, which would require researchers to describe their hypotheses and goals, and prevent them from changing them along the way, to meet the standards of some journals.

Another possible solution: stop giving too much importance, in researchers’ ratings, to journals’ “impact factor” – that is, publishing in a journal with a high impact factor gives more “points” for career advancement, increasing willingness to publish research on “attractive” topics .

The “pre-registration” approach is particularly encouraged by network clone, a British organization whose mission is to propose reforms to the way things work in the scientific community. The Open Science Center, a US organization, offers a “ranking” to identify searches that have been “pre-recorded”, and another to those whose researchers have agreed to share all of their data. The National Institutes of Health, the largest health research funding agency in the United States, It will be imposed next year That all recipients share their data.

In the recent report from new worldScience journalist Claire Wilson concludes that everyone involved in these reforms seems to agree that progress has been made in responding to the “red flags” heard over the past decade. “Almost everyone said it was a good start – but there’s still a long way to go.”

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