A whole pile of "this is how your brain looks like" MRI-based science has been invalidated because someone finally got around to checking the data. The problem is simple: to get from a high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging scan of the brain to a scientific conclusion, the brain is divided into tiny "voxels." Software, rather than humans, then scans the voxels looking for clusters. In this paper at PNAS, they write: "the most common software packages for fMRI analysis (SPM, FSL, AFNI) can result in false-positive rates of up to 70%. These results question the validity of some 40,000 fMRI studies and may have a large impact on the interpretation of neuroimaging results."
Nearly one-third of junior scientists spend no time validating antibodies, even though accurate results depend on these reagents working as expected, according to the results of a survey reported today in BioTechniques. "This is quite alarming," says Matthias Uhlén, a protein researcher at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm who heads an international working group on antibody validation, but who was not directly involved in the survey.
This week in science, academia and publishing for reproducibility.
Jeremy Berg, the incoming editor-in-chief of Science magazine, will be grappling with a number of issues plaguing science and science publishing when he takes over that role, Retraction Watch's Shannon Palus writes. Berg has previously supported efforts to bolster reproducibility and transparency, Palus notes. He tells her that there are a number of efforts aimed at improving reproducibility underway at Science, but as he hasn't started the position yet — he's to take the helm in July — he needs to catch up on what's already been done. He says various issues could be behind the irreproducibility problem and, to be effective, any response has to be tailored to that issue.
Researchers tease out different definitions of a crucial scientific term. A semantic confusion is clouding one of the most talked-about issues in research. Scientists agree that there is a crisis in reproducibility, but they can’t agree on what 'reproducibility' means.
A huge audience of psychologists, students and researchers was drawn to the British Psychological Society debate in London about the reproducibility and replication crisis in psychology. After Brian Nosek and the Open Science Collaboration outlined the difficulty in reproducing psychological findings, the BPS, the Experimental Psychology Society and the Association of Heads of Psychology Departments hoped to host an upbeat and positive debate in the area. Ella Rhodes reports from a British Psychological Society debate.