Correcting mistakes in light of new data and updating findings to reflect this is often considered to be a key characteristic of scientific research. Commenting on the ‘Loss-of-Confidence Project’, a study into self-correction amongst psychologists, Julia M. Rohrer, suggests that in practice self-correction of published research is, infrequent, difficult to achieve and perceived to come with reputational costs. However, by reframing and changing the static nature of academic publications, it may be possible to develop a research culture more conducive to self-correction.
The replication crisis has shaken our understanding of what rigorous research looks like in the social sciences. Practices that were once common—such as small samples, or extensive re-analysis of data until a significant effect is achieved—are now frowned upon. But, what does this mean for individual researchers who are confronted with flaws in their own research record? In psychology, it seems at least, many authors have decided to opt for silence. New studies may be conducted according to more rigorous standards, but what happened in the past stays in the past.
It has been asserted that science self-corrects to remove damaging mistakes, crap and other problems. But is this accurate? This great LSE Impact Blog piece reflects on this question. We have included links to eight related items.
We launched a website on which we invited researchers to submit a statement describing how they lost confidence in one of their own published findings. We asked for cases in which the central result of an article was called into question, and in which there were theoretical or methodological problems for which the submitter took responsibility. The public reaction to our initiative was amazing: almost everybody agreed that such a project was urgently needed, and there was some early media coverage.