The News Today
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7.23.19
Kick the Tires

An Academic Publisher Challenges Its Peers: Verify the Research You Publish

October 15th 18__Dan Robitzski__Filed Under: Hard Science
Materials Research Science and Engineering CenterMaterials Research Science and Engineering Center

Sexy Science

Most major research institutions have a deeply flawed approach to science.

The academic journals that publish research papers, and the universities and government agencies that allocate funding to scientists, prioritize splashy new research. That means replication studies, which are experiments that recreate past research in order to kick the tires and make sure their findings hold up, are often cast to the side because they’re not as sexy.

Second Best

That means that a lot of scientific research is never verified or never double checked — a problem which has caused a series of academic scandals in the social sciences. On Monday, The Royal Society, an independent scientific organization in the U.K. which publishes 11 journals, proposed a new solution.

The Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience section of The Royal Society Open Science, an academic journal run by the society, has pledged to publish any and all replication studies that seek to verify research that it’s previously published, or to verify similar experiments that were published elsewhere.

China Shop

Why it matters: The Royal Society is taking a “you break it, you bought it” approach to science. It’s taking on the responsibility to verify what it publishes, at least in one journal. And in its blog post, The Royal Society challenged other major publishers to do the same.

It’s too soon to say whether or not this will help funding find its way to the scientists doing crucial replication work, but if it does, we now know that their work will find a home.

READ MORE: Reproducibility meets accountability: introducing the replications initiative at Royal Society Open Science [The Royal Society Publishing Blog]

More on scientific accountability: Scientists Can’t Replicate AI Studies. That’s Bad News.