Too Much Trusting, Not Enough Verifying

Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences

This week in The Economist:

Too many of the findings that fill the academic ether are the result of shoddy experiments or poor analysis […] One reason is the competitiveness of science […] The obligation to “publish or perish” has come to rule over academic life. Competition for jobs is cut-throat […] Nowadays verification (the replication of other people’s results) does little to advance a researcher’s career. And without verification, dubious findings live on to mislead […] Careerism also encourages exaggeration and the cherry-picking of results. In order to safeguard their exclusivity, the leading journals impose high rejection rates: in excess of 90% of submitted manuscripts. The most striking findings have the greatest chance of making it onto the page. Little wonder that one in three researchers knows of a colleague who has pepped up a paper by, say, excluding inconvenient data from results “based on a gut feeling” […] Conversely, failures to prove a…

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