7 steps to restore trust in science – step 1

February 16, 2010

  1. Communicate about the process of science as well as the content. Many of the controversies around science and its interface with society are really about the processes of science. But often the background is not well explained. Peer review should be explained clearly, covering both the formal and informal aspects, and being honest about the weaknesses as well as the strengths of the system. The ‘weight of evidence’ approach should be discussed as a real strength of science. So often our understanding of the world depends on the alignment of a large number of small pieces of evidence. None of these on the own are particularly compelling but taken together… And when one piece of evidence turns out to be in error it may only have a minor impact on the overall story. Finally, we need a wider understanding of Kuhn‘s Scientific Revolutions. Sometimes the lone voice is right and the consensus wrong, although history tells us that this doesn’t happen often.
  2. Make research outputs available to all for free
  3. Publish negative results and unsuccessful experiments too
  4. Publish peer review comments with research outputs
  5. Attach a summary for non-experts to research outputs
  6. Make raw data available as early as possible
  7. Use new technology to open research conferences to all
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10 Responses to “7 steps to restore trust in science – step 1”

  1. James Hayton Says:

    Is there really a lack of trust in science? Reading the papers you might think so, but has “climategate” affected things that much? Does the media standpoint reflect or determine public opinion? How many people no longer believe in man-made climate change as a result?

    I don’t know the answers, and agree that improved communication is necessary, but just how great is this crisis of confidence in science?

  2. laudyms Says:

    Science is about more than climate. Corporate influence has overwhelmed science in both academia and industry. When the paycheck issuer has a profit-driven agenda, the results will always be questionable.


  3. Looking forward to steps 2 – 7 Steve. You’ll also see that I’ve posted a provocative poll on 2020 Science to see how people respond to the idea that trust might need to be restored in science – it’s one of those polls designed to prick people into a response, rather than answer a clear question, I must confess!

    http://2020science.org/2010/02/16/poll-does-trust-in-science-need-restoring/


  4. […] « 7 steps to restore trust in science – step 1 […]


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  10. […] that note, Steven Hill has seven steps to restore trust in science. What do you […]


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