PerspectiveSCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY

What does research reproducibility mean?

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Science Translational Medicine  01 Jun 2016:
Vol. 8, Issue 341, pp. 341ps12
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf5027

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  • RE: Science and Truth

    The most significant lesson that Ludwig Wittgenstein, one of the greatest philosophers of the last century, left us, is that usually philosophical problems arise from misunderstandings of language. At first glance, sometimes this might be the case also for science. Semantic and conceptual confusion of “research reproducibility” had a negative impact on the debate about the “replicability crisis” in psychological and biomedical science, to such an extent that there was not even a consensus on the results of the recent OSF Reproducibility Project. That is why Goodman’s paper (1) is a windfall. Yet, one his most valuable intuitions might not receive the attention it deserves. Goodman makes clear that we are not concerned about reproducibility of experiments per se, but about the truth of scientific claims inferred and warranted by those experiments. However, as soon as one starts to focus on truth he realizes how elusive and unintelligible such a concept is. This intellectual challenge might be tricky and high-risk, but worth being met.
    But then again, the quality of research seems to be the conditio sine qua non for science to reach some kind of truth. Indeed, everyone would agree that honest, responsible, and transparent research has more chance to produce true results. But why is this the case? Because by doing transparent research we can keep track of the work of our peers, control for biases, and correct errors. In a word, self-correction. Hence, implementing resea...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.