On openness of data in scientific work

There was quite some debate at the end of last year when thousands of emails and files concerning climate change were released. The contents of those documents were not flattering for some climate scientists involved, and the credibility of climate research was questioned. Now there have been three investigations into the affair, and the report of the latest was just released.

I’m happy to see that they pick out some flaws of contemporary science which have been annoying me and probably a few million others:

"An important shift in attitude is represented by a recent report by the US National Academies, which highlights these issues. It recommends a new approach to the integrity, accessibility, and stewardship of data in publicly-funded science, arguing that researchers should make all research data, methods, and other information underlying the results publicly accessible in a timely manner. These recommendations would require a substantial shift of behaviour amongst many scientists (p. 37)."

Peer review is a human process and so will always contain flaws, produce errors, and occasionally mislead. Given that journals are the gatekeepers of scientific publication, they have enormous “ probably too much “ influence over the reputations of scientists, research units, and universities (p. 137)."

The impact of science on matters important for society are greatly reduced because of this kind of problems. This is often not acknowledged by the scientific community, which doesn’t understand why their work isn’t taken more seriously. Correct the flaws and science will play a greater role in the future.

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