Solving the Replication Crisis: Audits Would Help

[From the article “Randomly auditing research labs could be an affordable way to improve research quality: A simulation study” by Adrian Barnett, Pauline Zardo, and Nicholas Graves, published at PLoS One]
“The “publish or perish” incentive drives many researchers to increase the quantity of their papers at the cost of quality. Lowering quality increases the number of false positive errors which is a key cause of the reproducibility crisis. We adapted a previously published simulation of the research world where labs that produce many papers are more likely to have “child” labs that inherit their characteristics. This selection creates a competitive spiral that favours quantity over quality. To try to halt the competitive spiral we added random audits that could detect and remove labs with a high proportion of false positives, and also improved the behaviour of “child” and “parent” labs who increased their effort and so lowered their probability of making a false positive error. Without auditing, only 0.2% of simulations did not experience the competitive spiral, defined by a convergence to the highest possible false positive probability. Auditing 1.35% of papers avoided the competitive spiral in 71% of simulations, and auditing 1.94% of papers in 95% of simulations. … Audits improved the literature by reducing the number of false positives from 30.2 per 100 papers to 12.3 per 100 papers.”
To read more, click here.

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