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Ruminate ‑ Learning to Discuss

Posted by stephanie rogers on March 31, 2014 in News

Greetings all,

We are looking forward to the next session of Ruminate, which meets, as usual, on Tuesday at 12:30 pm in the Douglas Room of Cumming Hall.

This week's session will address two very connected and relevant topics in science today: the lack of replication of most studies, and what is called "the file drawer problem."

The LA Times published an article last fall about an attempt to replicate 53 landmark papers in the fields of cancer research and blood biology.  Only six could be proven valid.  As Ioannidis in the attached paper states: "In the absence of replication efforts, one is left with unconfirmed (genuine) discoveries and unchallenged fallacies."

The "file drawer problem" refers to journals frequently rejecting papers that accept the null hypothesis, resulting in "file drawers" full of studies that show non-significant results.

How important is it to replicate published studies?  Will anyone fund a replication study?  How can we ensure that discoveries are genuine?  Have you ever had a paper rejected because the results caused you to accept the null hypothesis?  If so, what kind of comments did you get by reviewers and publishers?

The attached article by John P.A. Ioannidis (Why Science Is Not Necessarily
Self-Correcting, 2012) is worth a read (bonus: it is also hilarious.)  As he states: "Science may well be the noblest achievement of human civilization, but this achievement is not irreversible."

Looking forward to it,

Carolyn and Rosalie