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Scientists‘ Reputations Are Based on Getting It Right, Not Being Right

PLoS Biology
Ebersole, C.R.Axt, J.R.Nosek, B.A. University of Virginia,
Psychology Department,
Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

Center for Open Science,
Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
2016 Physics

Replication is vital for increasing precision and accuracy of scientific claims. However, when replications “succeed” or “fail,” they could have reputational consequences for the claim’s originators. Surveys of United States adults (N = 4,786), undergraduates (N = 428), and researchers (N = 313) showed that reputational assessments of scientists were based more on how they pursue knowledge and respond to replication evidence, not whether the initial results were true.

When comparing one scientist that produced boring but certain results with another that produced exciting but uncertain results, opinion favored the former despite researchers’ belief in more rewards for the latter. Considering idealized views of scientific practices offers an opportunity to address incentives to reward both innovation and verification.

The article was published in: PLoS Biol. 14(5): e1002460.

Full article

This work was supported (in part) by the Fetzer Franklin Fund of the John E. Fetzer Memorial Trust.