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Mon, Aug 31

Why replication matters

Science is a process, not a product — often a long one. And key to the process of organizing and creating knowledge is replication, or reproducing even the most credible-seeming results to help confirm their validity or to expose flaws in the work. Too often, however, for a variety of reasons and competing interests — why test someone else’s results when journals favor original research, for example? — replication becomes the missing step in the scientific process. That leaves the door open to research misconduct or fraud or, worse and much more common, promising data gone untested.

While the replication problem is widely acknowledged, it is largely unexplored. So a new landmark study suggesting that the results of the vast majority of major recent psychology studies can’t be replicated stands out, and poses important questions that stretch beyond psychology to the other sciences: What do poor reproducibility rates mean, and how can scientists and publishers help put a bigger premium on replication?

Read more from Inside Higher Ed.