Society Releases Research Practices for Scientific Rigor
In its efforts to address the complex issue of scientific rigor, SfN’s Scientific Rigor Working Group has developed Research Practices for Scientific Rigor, based on extensive discussion, research, and review of institutional and organizational reports.
While these guidelines are “intended to serve as a foundation for trainees and experienced scientists alike to reference and use as the basis for conversation, training, and practice,” they are by no means comprehensive, according to the document.
"It is important to note that it may not always be possible to strictly adhere to every guideline and that resulting research can still be rigorous," the resource states. "Given the complexity of these issues as they relate to individual research questions, SfN encourages full transparency, consideration, and communication regarding the implications of the choices made during research."
The suggested research practices, some of which are already well-established and straightforward, are divided into the areas of:
- Experimental design, including subject selection, use of controls, and other methodological concerns
- Data analysis, including correct collection and analysis of data, and use of appropriate statistics and sample sizes
- Transparency, including reporting, publishing, or providing access to specific data, methods, or analyses
The working group also acknowledges that the rigorous conduct of science can be affected by other factors, such as scientific policies that have created “perverse incentives” that the field needs to address. These problematic cultural conventions include:
- Tendency of journals not to publish negative results or results deemed inadequately “exciting” or “novel”
- “Rushing” findings into publication without a full investigation and proper self-replication
- Lack of incentives to retract incorrect or irreproducible findings
- Insufficient funding and/or resources to perform replication studies
- Pressure to conduct research for reasons other than pursuit of truth (academic promotions, “publish or perish”)
The Scientific Rigor Working Group intends to use these guidelines to provide a frame of reference for the planning and execution of related SfN programming and activities moving forward.