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A study has shown that scientific reproducibility does not correspond to scientific truth



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Reproducible scientific results are not always true, and true scientific results are not always reproducible, according to a mathematical model created by researchers from the University of Idaho. Their study, which simulates the search for this scientific truth, will be published on Wednesday, May 1

5, in the magazine PLOS ONE .

Independent confirmation of scientific results – known as reproducibility – lends credibility to the results of a researcher. Researchers have found, however, that the results of many known scientific experiments are not reproducible. This problem is called a "replication crisis".

Over the last decade, people have focused on finding remedies to the "replication crisis," said Berna Devezer, lead author of the study and professor of marketing at the College of Economics, "but proposals for remedies are getting too fast adopted and implemented without a sound justification to support them. We need a better theoretical understanding of how science works before we can provide reliable remedies for the right issues. Our model is a framework for the study of science. "

Devezer and her colleagues explored the relationship between reproducibility and the discovery of scientific truths by building a mathematical model that represents a scientific community looking for a scientific community In each simulation, scientists are asked to identify the shape of a particular polygon.

The modeled scientific community involved several types of scientists, each with different research strategies, such as performing highly innovative experiments or simple replication experiments their peers investigated whether factors such as the composition of the community, the complexity of the polygon, and reproducibility had an impact on how quickly the community moved to the true polygon shape as a scientific consensus d the permanence of the true polygon shape as scientific value embraced consensus.

Within the model, reproducibility did not always correlate with the likelihood of identifying the truth, how quickly the community identified the truth, and whether the community adhered to the truth as soon as it identified it. These results suggest that reproducible results are not synonymous with finding the truth, Devezer said.

Compared to other research strategies, highly innovative research tactics have led to faster truth-finding. According to the study, a variety of research strategies that were protected against ineffective research approaches and desirable aspects of the scientific process were optimized,

variables such as the composition of the community and the complexity of the true polygon influenced the speed with which scientists tested the truth and persistence of This truth suggests that scientific findings should not automatically be blamed for questionable research practices or problematic incentives, Devezer said. Both were described as drivers of the "replication crisis".

We found that some research strategies that produce reproducible results can actually slow down the scientific process within the model, meaning that reproducibility may not always be the best – or at least the only – indicator of good science " said Erkan Buzbas, UI, assistant professor at the College of Science, Department of Statistical Science, and co-author of the paper, "The insistence on reproducibility as the sole criterion could have undesirable consequences for scientific progress."


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Further information:
PLOS ONE (2019). journals.plos.org/plosone/arti… journal.pone.0216125

Provided by
University of Idaho




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Study shows that scientific reproducibility does not correspond to scientific truth (2019, 15 May)
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