7 steps to restore trust in science – step 1

  1. Communicate about the process of science as well as the content. Many of the controversies around science and its interface with society are really about the processes of science. But often the background is not well explained. Peer review should be explained clearly, covering both the formal and informal aspects, and being honest about the weaknesses as well as the strengths of the system. The ‘weight of evidence’ approach should be discussed as a real strength of science. So often our understanding of the world depends on the alignment of a large number of small pieces of evidence. None of these on the own are particularly compelling but taken together… And when one piece of evidence turns out to be in error it may only have a minor impact on the overall story. Finally, we need a wider understanding of Kuhn‘s Scientific Revolutions. Sometimes the lone voice is right and the consensus wrong, although history tells us that this doesn’t happen often.
  2. Make research outputs available to all for free
  3. Publish negative results and unsuccessful experiments too
  4. Publish peer review comments with research outputs
  5. Attach a summary for non-experts to research outputs
  6. Make raw data available as early as possible
  7. Use new technology to open research conferences to all

Written on February 16, 2010

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© 2017 Steven Hill. Unless otherwise stated, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.