Instead of “playing the game” it is time to change the rules: Registered Reports at AIMS Neuroscience and beyond.

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The last ten years have witnessed increasing awareness of questionable research practices (QRPs) in the life sciences [1,2], including p-hacking [3], HARKing [4], lack of replication [5], publication bias [6], low statistical power [7] and lack of data sharing ([8]; see Figure 1). Concerns about such behaviours have been raised repeatedly for over half a century [9–11] but the incentive structure of academia has not changed to address them. Despite the complex motivations that drive academia, many QRPs stem from the simple fact that the incentives which offer success to individual scientists conflict with what is best for science [12]. On the one hand are a set of gold standards that centuries of the scientific method have proven to be crucial for discovery: rigour, reproducibility, and transparency. On the other hand are a set of opposing principles born out of the academic career model: the drive to produce novel and striking results, the importance of confirming prior expectations, and the need to protect research interests from competitors. Within a culture that pressures scientists to produce rather than discover, the outcome is a biased and impoverished science in which most published results are either unconfirmed genuine discoveries or unchallenged fallacies [13]. This observation implies no moral judgement of scientists, who are as much victims of this system as they are perpetrators.

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Type of resources: Primary Source, Reading, Paper

Education level(s): College / Upper Division (Undergraduates)

Primary user(s): Student

Subject area(s): Applied Science, Social Science

Language(s): English