Scientific Utopia II. Restructuring Incentives and Practices to Promote Truth Over Publishability
In our view, the key for improving the efficiency of knowledge accumulation is to capitalize on existing motivations to be accurate and to reduce the emphasis on publication itself as the mechanism of achievement and advancement. Scientists have strong accuracy motivations. And in the long run, getting it right has a higher payoff than getting it published. However, the goal to publish is immediate, palpable, and concrete; the goal to be accurate is distal and abstract. As a consequence, the short-term payoffs of publishing can be inordinately influential (Liberman & Trope, 1998; Trope & Liberman, 2003), particularly for early-career scientists for whom there is relative urgency for markers of achievement. To address this, the conditions of daily practice must elevate the importance of the more abstract, longer-term goals in comparison to the persisting importance of the concrete, shorter-term goals... we suggest new or altered practices to meet these objectives.
We titled this article "Scientific Utopia" self-consciously. The suggested revisions to scientific practice are presented idealistically. The realities of implementation and execution are messier than their conceptualization. Science is the best available method for cumulating knowledge about nature. Even so, scientific practices can be improved to enhance the efficiency of knowledge building. The present article outlined changes to address a conflict of interest for practicing scientists—the rewards of getting published that are independent of the accuracy of the findings that are published. Some of these changes are systemic and require cultural, institutional, or collective change. But others can emerge "bottom-up" by scientists altering their own practices.
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