The scientific method has been around for more than 400 years as a means of testing and verifying hypotheses. Scientific study is about testing and retesting to ensure that the results are right. Recent looks at experiment replication in science have shown that many studies aren’t standing up to retesting.
Research paper topics could examine this phenomenon and why it is troubling to so many in various scientific fields, or the history and importance of the scientific method.
Experiment replication failures
Nature surveyed more than 1,500 researchers to find out more about experiment replication in science. Monya Baker shared those results in “1,500 scientists lift the lid on reproducibility” on May 25, 2016. “More than 70% of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments, and more than half have failed to reproduce their own experiments,” Baker wrote.
Those numbers make it appear as if there is a reproducibility crisis in scientific study. What is behind this failure to reproduce experiments? Baker reported that survey respondents blamed “pressure to publish and selective reporting” as well as the bureaucracy that grows for researchers every year and takes them away from their research. Research paper topics to consider include preventative measures researchers can take to improve their experiment replication or a deeper dive into the causes of the reproducibility crisis.
Validation of scientific study
Yes, the experiment replication failures are problematic in science in many people’s eyes. It could mean that enormous sums of money in biomedical research, among other areas of study, are being misspent. On the other hand, some think that the issue is not as big a deal and that it’s really a sign that the scientific method and process is working.
Researchers conducting a scientific study may not want people to uncover that their experiment has failed the scientific method and can’t be reproduced, or there may be something else going on as Bethany Brookshire wrote in her post “In science, a lack of replication shouldn’t kill your reputation” on December 22, 2015, to sciencenews.com.
Brookshire shared the result of a survey conducted in Germany to see how an experiment replication failure affected a researcher’s reputation. Those surveyed viewed their own replication issues more harshly than they did someone else’s. “While the study can’t predict the effect of a replication failure on a scientist’s reputation in the real world, the results do suggest that scientists overestimate the negative effect on their reputations,” Brookshire wrote. Research paper topics to consider include comparing and contrasting how the experiment replication issue has affected the social sciences versus a scientific study in the healthcare or medical arena.
Is the scientific method broken?
According to Ronald Bailey’s article “Broken Science: What Happens When Cancer Doctors, Psychologists, and Drug Developers Can’t Rely on Each Other’s Research?” for the February 2016 issue of Reason one of the causes of the so-called experiment replication crisis may be the desire to grab people’s attention with splashy headlines and striking results.
Bailey wrote, “Scientists often don’t bother to report when they fail to find anything significant in their experiments. Part of the issue is that the editors of scientific journals are not generally interested in publishing studies that find no effect.” Experiments that fail may not be something a researcher is proud of or even thinks is interesting, but these failures and mistakes still contain important knowledge. Not publishing these results is an ethical failure and can make positive results seem more impactful. How has the change in academia’s culture impacted scientific study or how do sample sizes in studies affect research in science are other avenues to pursue as research paper topics.
Should scientists and researchers be more open to sharing their research for experiment replication? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.