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Kate Button advises workshop on robust scientific methods

25 February 2014

Kate Button advises NSF-sponsored workshop on robust methods in social, behavioural and economic sciences

Following a review of the problem of low statistical power in neuroscience published in Nature Reviews Neuroscience, TARGs Kate Button was invited to sit on a workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on robust research in the social, behavioural, and economic sciences, held in Arlington, VA on the 20th-21st February.

The aims of the workshop were: 1) to assess the scope and magnitude of the problem of poor reproducibility and to review and critique the extant solutions, and 2) to foster a reflective dialogue among researchers, journal editors, and science administrators about what integrated set of policies and procedures might be acceptable and beneficial to the scientific community.

Kate’s presentation focused on the problems associated with unreliable results resulting from an evidence base dominated by small, under-powered studies. She also emphasised the difficulties for early career researchers facing a publish-or-perish culture where flashy, but often unreliable results, are often rewarded, over the more conservative findings arising from larger, more time- and expense-consuming studies.

Other board members included Philip E. Rubin from President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, journal editors such as Science Editor-in-Chief, Marcia McNutt, and several representatives from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The mood of the meeting was accepting of the problems, and constructive regarding solutions. Watch this space for concrete recommendations!

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