The scientific community seeks to improve the ‘reproducibility’ of scientific findings

Avatar By Lliane Hunter | 2 years ago

In 2009, hackers stole and posted online emails between leading climate scientists saved on servers at the University of East Anglia. The emails revealed conflicts of interest among climate scientists conducting peer review on papers that contradicted their own work, writes Francie Diep for Pacific Standard. The backlash motivated the scientific community to become far more transparent about their data and techniques, as well as their uncertainty about results. This is important as scientists aim to improve the “reproducibility” of results.

The American Competitiveness and Innovation Act of 2017 mandates that the National Academies of Science produce a report about the state of the dependability of scientific findings. No area of science needs this transparency and dependability as much as climate studies. According to Diep, there’s broad agreement among climate scientists that global warming is happening—and human driven—but, the results are widely varied. Climate scientists estimate the Earth’s prehistoric climate using present-day clues like tree rings and sections of ice taken from the Arctic. They compare results and share the data online for other researchers to provide input, verify the findings, and spot the mistakes.

Despite this methodology, there is heated debate about the scientific community’s ability to reproduce findings. An issue the National Academies is working on rectifying—they held their first meeting to examine reproducibility in December. According to NASA climate researcher Gavin Schmidt, these efforts are beneficial. “It clearly is the case that having data out there helps people who are interested get involved and do good things.”