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April 25, 2013
Towards Better Papers, With Real Results in Them
This has to be a good thing. From the latest issue of Nature comes news of an initiative to generate more reproducible papers:
From next month, Nature and the Nature research journals will introduce editorial measures to address the problem by improving the consistency and quality of reporting in life-sciences articles. To ease the interpretation and improve the reliability of published results we will more systematically ensure that key methodological details are reported, and we will give more space to methods sections. We will examine statistics more closely and encourage authors to be transparent, for example by including their raw data. . .
. . .We recognize that there is no single way to conduct an experimental study. Exploratory investigations cannot be done with the same level of statistical rigour as hypothesis-testing studies. Few academic laboratories have the means to perform the level of validation required, for example, to translate a finding from the laboratory to the clinic. However, that should not stand in the way of a full report of how a study was designed, conducted and analysed that will allow reviewers and readers to adequately interpret and build on the results.
I hope that Science, the Cell journals at Elsevier, and other other leading outlets for such results will follow through with something similar. In this time of online supplementary info and basically unlimited storage ability, there's no reason not to disclose as much information as possible in a scientific publication. And the emphasis on statistical rigor and possible sources of error is just what's needed as well. Let's see who follows suit first, and congratulate them. And let's see who fails to respond, and treat them appropriately, too.
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