Monday, June 24, 2013

Trust in Science Would be Improved by Study Pre-Registration

In an ideal world, scientific discoveries would be independent of what scientists wanted to discover. A good researcher would begin with an idea, devise a method to test the idea, run the study as planned, and then decide based on the evidence whether the idea had been supported. Following this approach would lead us step-by-step toward a better understanding of nature. Unfortunately, the life sciences are becoming increasingly estranged from this way of thinking...This publishing culture is toxic to science. Recent studies have shown how intense career pressures encourage life scientists to engage in a range of questionable practices to generate publications – behaviours such as cherry-picking data or analyses that allow clear narratives to be presented, reinventing the aims of a study after it has finished to "predict" unexpected findings, and failing to ensure adequate statistical power. These are not the actions of a small minority; they are common, and result from the environment and incentive structures that most scientists work within. more

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