Opinion: “Papers need to include fewer claims and more proof to make the scientific literature more reliable”

Publish houses of brick, not mansions of straw

Nature545,387(25 May 2017)doi:10.1038/545387a

William G. Kaelin Jr is a professor of medicine at the Dana–Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts.

 

“I worry about sloppiness in biomedical research: too many published results are true only under narrow conditions, or cannot be reproduced at all. The causes are diverse, but what I see as the biggest culprit is hardly discussed. Like the proverbial boiled frog that failed to leap from a slowly warming pot of water, biomedical researchers are stuck in a system in which the amount of data and number of claims in individual papers has gradually risen over decades. Moreover, the goal of a paper seems to have shifted from validating specific conclusions to making the broadest possible assertions. The danger is that papers are increasingly like grand mansions of straw, rather than sturdy houses of brick……..”

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