Foreword newsletter n2 – Nov. 2015

Last modified: May 21, 2017

by Lex Bouter

Research misbehavior is often associated with the three ‘deadly sins’ of fabrication, falsification and plagiarism. But on the aggregated level questionable research practices (QRPs) do probably much more harm, first and foremost in the form of selective publication. It has been shown that positive results are published more easily and cited more often. That will almost certainly improve your chances to get the next grant and eventually tenure. In many disciplines the proportion of papers reporting positive results has increased over time. A number of QRPs can be very helpful if you need positive results. The resulting publication bias, selective reporting and selective citation will distort the validity of the published record and can explain the enormous replication difficulties that many disciplines experience.

It’s encouraging that the need to take action with a view to improve this situation is increasingly recognized by the relevant stakeholders. An important and promising example is the Lancet REWARD campaign of which NRIN was one of the early adopters. See below for some more details on this campaign. The reproducibility crisis and a plea to take action was also the focus of recent issues of Science and Nature, as described in this Newsletter. That selective non-reporting of serious side effects can have devastating consequences was again made clear in the recent BMJ issue mentioned below.

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