Scientific method

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Every academic journal article is rigorously screened by other experts in the field. Shutterstock

Explainer: the ins and outs of peer review

Peer review is not infallible, but it's central to how science works. In this extract from Peter Doherty's new book, The Knowledge Wars, he explains how it works in practice.
Data needs to be an open book if science is to be made more reliable. Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr

Science is best when the data is an open book

If we want the best possible research, it's not just the journal articles that ought to be openly available to all, but the data behind them as well.
Lots of scientists see things in different ways, but that doesn’t undermine its authority. Dan Tentler/Flickr

Why should we place our faith in science?

Deep disagreements within science might seem to undermine its authority, but they only underscore how science really works.
A researcher buried in records requests can’t attend to actual science. Man image via www.shutterstock.com

Activists misuse open records requests to harass researchers

Some activists use open records requests to bully researchers – distracting them from their actual work and silencing others who don't want to draw attention.
The BICEP2 telescope at twilight at the South Pole. The supporting data for the inflation of the universe have also gone off into the sunset. Steffen Richter, Harvard University

Failure in real science is good – and different from phony controversies

Last March, the BICEP2 collaboration announced that they had used a microwave telescope at the South Pole to detect primordial gravitational waves. These tiny ripples in spacetime would be the first proof…
There’s science going on here, no test tubes or lab coats necessary. USA Today Sports / Reuters

Super Bowl athletes are scientists at work

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman gets called a lot of things. He calls himself the greatest cornerback in the NFL (and Seattle fans tend to agree). Sportswriters and some other players call…
Look beyond tinfoil hats – the most dangerous pseudoscience comes from scientists. B Rosen/Flickr

Scientists can learn from pseudoscience … that’s a fact

Scientists should study pseudoscience – see what the pseudoscientists are up to and perhaps (for a laugh) try a few pseudostudies themselves. Critically, scientists must learn what really distinguishes…
China: “No, thanks. We don’t want a Nobel peace prize.” andreasl

China isn’t creative enough to win a science Nobel

“China is at the forefront of medicine and hi-tech and computing.” So said UK Chancellor George Osborne, who recently visited the country. Global tests for 15-year-olds show the youth of Shanghai are comfortably…
Scientists are often untrained in methods to make their research replicable. Pulpolux !!!

Science is in a reproducibility crisis – how do we resolve it?

Over the past few years, there has been a growing awareness that many experimentally established “facts” don’t seem to hold up to repeated investigation. This was highlighted in a 2010 article in the New…
We are used to thinking in probabilities: will it be stormy enough to need an umbrella? Luis Martins

In science, the only certainty is uncertainty

In the lead up to the release next month of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) Fifth Assessment Report we are exploring concepts of confidence and certainty in climate science. You…
Sometimes a piece of the puzzle won’t fit, but overall the picture is coming together. Dave Ginsberg

150 years and counting: confidence in climate science

In the lead up to the release next month of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) Fifth Assessment Report we are exploring concepts of confidence and certainty in climate science. The…
Maybe humans aren’t causing climate change, and maybe penguins choose not to fly. Antarctica Bound/Flickr

Penguins can’t fly and humans are causing climate change: how scientists build theories

In the lead up to the release next month of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) Fifth Assessment Report we are exploring concepts of confidence and certainty in climate science – beginning…
Now, no cheating: why doesn’t Australia have its own Office for Research Integrity? Nat20_Film

From fraud to fair play: Australia must support research integrity

Science is knowledge gained from reproducible observations or experiments. Yet in a commentary in Nature in May last year, researchers from biotechnology company Amgen reported that the findings in 90…
How many times do we have to try before we are able to repeat those results? Queen's University

Fraud and trouble with replication are chemistry’s problems too

Scientific fraud has raised its ugly head once more. In a note to chemists in the journal Organic Letters, Amos Smith, the editor-in-chief, has announced that an analysis of data submitted to the journal…

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