Scientists depend on a good reputation to receive ongoing support and fundingand a good reputation relies largely on the publication of high-profile scientific papers. Hence, there is a strong imperative to " publish or perish ". Clearly, this may motivate desperate or fame-hungry scientists to fabricate results. Ease of fabrication In many scientific fields, results are often difficult to reproduce accurately, being obscured by noiseartifactsand other extraneous data.
A Reality Check for Neuroscience? By Neuroskeptic November 19, 1: You can download it here from the webpage of one of the authors, Eric-Jan Wagenmakers.
Neuroskeptic readers will know Wagenmakers as a critic of statistical fallacies in psychology and a leading advocate of preregistrationwhich is something I never tire of promoting either.
An SBB correlation is an association between the size usually of a particular brain area and a particular behavioral trait.
For instance, one of the claims was that the amount of grey matter in the amygdala is correlated with the number of Facebook friends you have.
To attempt to reproduce these 17 findings, Boekel et al. The students then completed a set of questionnaires and psychological tests, identical to ones used in the five papers that were up for replication.
The methods and statistical analyses were fully preregistered back in June ; Boekel et al. So what did they find? None of the 17 brain-behavior correlations were significant in the replication sample.
Using Bayesian statisticsBoekel et al. Does that mean that the original five SBB papers were wrong? However, as previously mentioned, a single replication cannot be conclusive in terms of confirmation or refutation of a finding. They conclude by calling for more pre-registered replications, like the one they just did We believe that in order to establish correlations between behavior and structural properties of the brain more firmly, it is desirable for the field to replicate SBB correlations, preferably using preregistration protocols and Bayesian inference methods.
However, not everyone is convinced by Boekel et al.
He cites limitations of Boekel et al. One of the findings was clearly replicated using a method close to our original study. The region-of-interest ROI approach adopted by the authors underestimate correlation because of spatial uncertainty.
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The suboptimal methods could not be corrected because it was a pre-registered study. There was no stage where the methods were formally reviewed for this study. The study was generally underpowered, and most Bayes factors were less than 3, indicating that the negative results were anecdotal.
Given the above, the main claim that none of the results were replicated sounds a bit too strong. Kanai also says that the publication and review process has room for improvement: I [was] one of the reviewers for this paper… Originally, I asked the Cortex action editor Chris Chambers to let me write a commentary on this paper so that the readers can see both sides of story at once.
But now, Wagenmakers already made their paper available online and you are about to write a blog about this study. It is true that the authors sent me their pre-registration document before they started their project.
But at that time, it was not clear that I had to read it critically as I would for formal reviews. This should not be a problem for future work, if we use the pre-registration mechanisms such as Registered Report in the journal Cortex.
However, I think your blog would be a great place to discuss this topic further. I hope this is going to be a constructive discussion for the neuroimaging field. Nonetheless, Kanai says that he supports the publication of Boekel et al.
I encountered a few problems when examining Boekel et al. I think Boekel et al. We need more of this.
That said, it would be rash to write off all of the 17 claims as disproven just yet. Preregistration itself helps facilitate this. This study only had 36 participants, which largely underpowered the analyses.
That can explain why they found the absence of the reported correlations.
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Second, they claimed that there were significant differences between the effects size they found and those reported previously. Obviously, the effect sizes reported previously were non-independent which has been realized.
So, it is unreasonable to compare these two things.Scientific misconduct is the violation of the standard codes of scholarly conduct and ethical behavior in the publication of professional scientific research.A Lancet review on Handling of Scientific Misconduct in Scandinavian countries provides the following sample definitions: (reproduced in The COPE report ).
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