Petersen 2019 J Physiol
|Petersen OH (2019) Reproducibility - again. J Physiol 597:657-8. https://doi.org/10.1113/JP277486
Abstract: There has been, and continues to be, widespread concern about the so‐called reproducibility crisis in science. Countless editorials and opinion pieces in journals and newspapers continue to discuss this issue. It would appear that many science administrators, journalists and politicians, including some scientists, believe that most of the findings reported in scientific publications cannot be reproduced and therefore are useless. Some even assert that the apparently growing crisis is due to widespread fraud, fuelled by problems with current research and publication practices.
• Bioblast editor: Gnaiger E
- Currently, much attention is given, by both funding agencies and journal editors, to the problem of inadequate statistical analysis, but in the irreproducibility cases I had to deal with, statistics was not the problem. In some cases, the statistical analysis was excellent but, unfortunately, the primary data were not!
- In my own field, cellular electrophysiology and imaging, I am convinced by individual clear and continuous records with a firm baseline and then an intervention that produces a clear change that is reversible. This is of course the classical approach to electrophysiological work, best exemplified by the famous papers from Hodgkin and Huxley published in J Physiol in the 1950s (for example, Hodgkin & Huxley,1952). In these papers, there are no statistics. Typical, and very convincing, traces are shown and the number of experiments is recorded.
- While clearly having an obligation to review carefully and critically manuscripts that deal with corrections of previously published papers, journal editors must be careful not to fall into the trap of trying to protect the reputation of previous authors by demanding excessive quantitative information, thereby unnecessarily delaying or even potentially preventing corrections of the published record.
- The increasing number of publications that we all have to deal with poses significant challenges and in this context it is more important than ever to promote efforts to improve the clarity of scientific papers.
- J Physiol also has a long‐standing and continuing tradition of publishing very detailed Methods sections, which is of vital importance for reproducibility.
Ambiguity crisis, Gentle Science