Science about Science

Science about Science

Marcus Munafò is Professor of Biological Psychology at the University of Bristol. His main research is on the neurobiological and genetic basis for tobacco and alcohol use, but he has also had a long-standing interest in the role of incentive structures in science, and their impact on research reproducibility. His scientific work on science (metascience) includes reviews and studies on statistical power, analytical flexibility, and reporting biases in various domains such as psychology, neuroscience, and genetics. On the 21st of November Marcus came to Groningen for the UMCG mini-symposium “Is science having an integrity crisis?” to discuss research reproducibility issues and potential solutions. I interviewed him for the newsletter of graduate school BCN.

[Reading time: 5-7 minutes]

Getting our house in order

Let’s start with the million dollar question: do you think science is having an integrity crisis?
I don’t think integrity is necessarily the right word. The vast majority of scientists are trying to do good work with the tools available to them and using the training they have had. I believe most problems don’t arise out of integrity issues, but because well-intentioned scientists may not appreciate how certain ways of working that are commonplace can have problematic consequences.

Perhaps a better term would be reproducibility crisis?
I’m also not sure crisis is the right word. I believe it’s better described as an opportunity to bring up to date the way in which we do science and move towards a more diverse system of rewarding outputs that could include publications, but could also include other products of our work suc