FEATURED RESEARCH: 2 Recent Papers on the Role of the Media in Reproducibility

Two recent papers look at the influence of media on replications and retractions.

A paper by Eleonora Alabrese concludes that “media coverage shapes the auto-correcting process of science by reducing the amount of misinformation and increasing punishment for retracted authors.”

[The following are excerpts from the paper]

“…difference-in-differences estimates at the paper level show that retractions harm citations of retracted papers, and media coverage amplifies this effect (on average, media contributes to a ’20-28% further reduction in forward citations). This aggravating effect is present only in hard sciences… in the case of social sciences, there is no additional penalty associated to retracted papers with media attention.”

“Evidence suggests that articles with higher predicted media coverage are less likely to experience a retraction. The interpretation of this result is twofold. On the one hand, the fact that popular articles are retracted less often seems reassuring and could be due to experienced academics answering salient research questions. On the other, it could indicate that “interesting” research articles may be reviewed with a laxer standard.”

To read the paper, click here.


Another paper by Wu Youyou, Yang Yang, and Brian Uzzi in PNAS concludes that more media coverage means less reproducibility.

With regard to media coverage, the paper states:

“The media plays a significant role in creating the public’s image of science and democratizing knowledge, but it is often incentivized to report on counterintuitive and eye-catching results. Ideally, the media would have a positive relationship (or a null relationship) with replication success rates in Psychology. Contrary to this ideal, however, we found a negative association between media coverage of a paper and the paper’s likelihood of replication success.”

Other findings are:

“We found that experimental work replicates at significantly lower rates than non-experimental methods for all subfields, and subfields with less experimental work replicate relatively better. This finding is worrisome, given that Psychology’s strong scientific reputation is built, in part, on its proficiency with experiments.”

“…while replicability is positively correlated with researchers’ experience and competence, other proxies of research quality, such as an author’s university prestige and the paper’s citations, showed no association with replicability in Psychology.”

To read the paper, click here.

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