Open science, the replication crisis, and environmental public health

Author : Daniel J. Hicks

Concerns about a crisis of mass irreplicability across scientific fields (“the replication crisis”) have stimulated a movement for open science, encouraging or even requiring researchers to publish their raw data and analysis code.

Recently, a rule at the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) would have imposed a strong open data requirement. The rule prompted significant public discussion about whether open science practices are appropriate for fields of environmental public health.

The aims of this paper are to assess (1) whether the replication crisis extends to fields of environmental public health; and (2) in general whether open science requirements can address the replication crisis.

There is little empirical evidence for or against mass irreplicability in environmental public health specifically. Without such evidence, strong claims about whether the replication crisis extends to environmental public health – or not – seem premature.

By distinguishing three concepts – reproducibility, replicability, and robustness – it is clear that open data initiatives can promote reproducibility and robustness but do little to promote replicability.

I conclude by reviewing some of the other benefits of open science, and offer some suggestions for funding streams to mitigate the costs of adoption of open science practices in environmental public health.

URL : Open science, the replication crisis, and environmental public health



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