Being able to reproduce an experiment or a finding is one of the most important parts of advancing science. Arguably, it is a defining characteristic of science. We, as scientists, build upon each other’s work by sharing our findings through publications, conference talks and posters, and increasingly through new forms of media like Twitter, podcasts, and blogs.
In many respects science as a whole is thriving. New advances in science are reported daily, some advancing entire fields of research and directly impacting the public. Yet there is a growing concern that the research enterprise may be in a crisis. The hyper-competitive environment for funding where you need to write ten grants on average to get one pushes scientists to engage in practices that may be antithetical to science, such as not reporting so-called “negative results,” not sharing data and publications in an open manner, and in some cases hacking statistics to try and bend results to a preconceived narrative. In a culture where we are being increasingly evaluated on the pizazz of our findings and not the robustness of our work we are seeing more and more reports showing major failings of the scientific enterprise. Specifically, we are seeing fields where the leading studies cannot actually be independently reproduced. This is a concern that we at the Winnower are trying to address amongst many other organizations.
Towards identifying ways to ensure research is robust we are launching an essay competition sponsored by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation for researchers and other stakeholders to put forward new ideas and solutions to the reproducibility crisis that we face in science. How do we ensure and incentivize robust work? Does peer review need to be changed? Does data sharing need to be incentivized or mandated? Funding practices improved? Let us know what you think should be done to improve the system in a 750-1500 word essay.
The essay competition will run until June 15th and will be judged by a committee of scientists, librarians, members of industry, and students based on the following criteria. To enter, please upload your essay to the Winnower platform and include the following keyword #LJAFreproducibility or simply email it to email@example.com and we’ll do it for you!
We’re waiving our publication cost of twenty-five dollars and awarding the top two essays prizes of $500 each.
Submit here and help spread the message on Twitter, Facebook, and at your institution by sharing this infographic as widely as you can. If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at us @thewinnower on Twitter. Lastly, help us thank the Laura and John Arnold foundation for sponsoring this competition and for all the projects they currently sponsor towards a better research enterprise.