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Reducing Bias in Scientific Publication through an Open Access Repository
Reynolds, Abe 2016 2016 Reducing Bias in Scientific Publication through an Open Access Repository.pdf
Psychology and Philosophy
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Heuristics (or intuitions), while quite often helpful, can lead to mistakes when they are not fit for a particular environment. As a result, heuristics can be detrimental to a scientific endeavor, where the researcher is expected to remain as accurate, impartial, and logical as possible. This tendency of individuals to use faulty intuitions is one of the main reasons for the existence of a peer-review process in academe. Due to the current system of journal publication and peerreview, however, there is a high potential for bias in scientific publishing. Researchers may be risk averse, attempting to research that which they think will receive funding and get published. “Salami-slicing” works to increase one’s publication count, only publishing novel and positive results, and overselling the impacts of results have all become common practices to get ahead. Referees in the journal peer-review process may also be biased in their assessments of what research meets their standards. Journals that do not accept replication studies, articles that go against the prevailing paradigm, or experiments that do not meet the .05 statistical significance cut-off inadvertently skew the scientific knowledgebase. Possible solutions to the biases in the current system of journal publishing and peer-review will be considered, particularly the acceptance of a centralized open access repository. If researchers utilize one repository that collects all research and publishes before the review process, biases concerning publication may be avoided entirely and the quality of research may be assessed after the fact. Instead of one bias that is enforced, postpublication review may allow for a proliferation of paradigms to emerge. One commonly used and agreed upon centralized open access repository would also allow for new journals to arise that are more domain-specific. Such a solution would increase the speed of discovery, innovation, and greatly facilitate scientific advancement.