What Makes a Good Scientist?
Article Jun 15, 2016
The ability to replicate published findings is vital for supporting scientific claims. However, a recent survey published in PLOS Biology1 has found that the largest effect on the perception of a researcher’s ability and character comes from how they respond to the process of replication.
A survey of 4,786 members of the public, 428 undergraduates, and 313 scientific professionals was conducted to explore the perception of scientists based on statements about their research, its reproducibility and how they respond following success or failure to replicate.
Respondents evaluated the scientist who produces boring but certain results more favourably to the scientist who produces exciting but uncertain results. A researcher’s reputation was more closely tied to their process, whether they were responding to others replications or pursuing their own, opposing the notion that failure to replicate is a threat to reputation.
The group, from The Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, and Center of Open Science, conducted this study to reveal peoples’ idealized views of scientific practices in order to motivate more open science communication and to promote greater success in scientific research.
‘Because true innovations are rare, valuing replication is important to foster efficient filtering of interesting findings and accelerate knowledge building’. This paper presents timely research on views towards scientific research and character, and provide an opportunity to challenge our own beliefs and biases about the research and reporting process.
About the paper, Chares Ebersole commented ‘I think researchers are, overall, pretty level-headed about these issues. These data support that idea. We understand that research is very difficult and judge others accordingly’.
1. Ebersole, C. R., Axt, J. R., & Nosek, B. A. (2016). Scientists’ Reputations Are Based on Getting It Right, Not Being Right. PLoS Biol, 14(5), e1002460.
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