Biologists should submit their preprints to open servers, a practice common in mathematics and physics, to open and accelerate the scientific process.
Proposals to improve the reproducibility of biomedical research have emphasized scientific rigor. Although the word “rigor” is widely used, there has been little specific discussion as to what it means and how it can be achieved. We suggest that scientific rigor combines elements of mathematics, logic, philosophy, and ethics. We propose a framework for rigor that includes redundant experimental design, sound statistical analysis, recognition of error, avoidance of logical fallacies, and intellectual honesty. These elements lead to five actionable recommendations for research education.
The global burden of cholera is largely unknown because the majority of cases are not reported. The low reporting can be attributed to limited capacity of epidemiological surveillance and laboratories, as well as social, political, and economic disincentives for reporting. We previously estimated 2.8 million cases and 91,000 deaths annually due to cholera in 51 endemic countries. A major limitation in our previous estimate was that the endemic and non-endemic countries were defined based on the countries' reported cholera cases. We overcame the limitation with the use of a spatial modelling technique in defining endemic countries, and accordingly updated the estimates of the global burden of cholera.
In Italy, Law 413/1993 states that public and private Italian Institutions, including academic faculties, are obliged to fully inform workers and students about their right to conscientious objection to scientific or educational activities involving animals, hereafter written as “animal CO”. However, little monitoring on the faculties' compliance with this law has been performed either by the government or other institutional bodies. Based on this premise, the authors have critically reviewed the existing data and compared them with those emerging from their own investigation to discuss limitations and inconsistencies. The results of this investigation revealed that less than half of Italian academic faculties comply with their duty to inform on animal CO. Non-compliance may substantially affect the right of students to make ethical choices in the field of animal ethics and undermines the fundamental right to express their own freedom of thought. The Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research, ethics committees and animal welfare bodies should cooperate to make faculties respect this law. Further research is needed to better understand the reasons for the current trend, as well as to promote the enforcement of Law 413/1993 with particular regard to information on animal CO.
Time is divided by geologists according to marked shifts in Earth’s state. Recent global environmental changes suggest that Earth may have entered a new human-dominated geological epoch, the Anthropocene. Here we review the historical genesis of the idea and assess anthropogenic signatures in the geological record against the formal requirements for the recognition of a new epoch. The evidence suggests that of the various proposed dates two do appear to conform to the criteria to mark the beginning of the Anthropocene: 1610 and 1964. The formal establishment of an Anthropocene Epoch would mark a fundamental change in the relationship between humans and the Earth system.
Political candidates often believe they must focus their campaign efforts on a small number of swing voters open for ideological change. Based on the wisdom of opinion polls, this might seem like a good idea. But do most voters really hold their political attitudes so firmly that they are unreceptive to persuasion? We tested this premise during the most recent general election in Sweden, in which a left- and a right-wing coalition were locked in a close race. We asked our participants to state their voter intention, and presented them with a political survey of wedge issues between the two coalitions. Using a sleight-of-hand we then altered their replies to place them in the opposite political camp, and invited them to reason about their attitudes on the manipulated issues. Finally, we summarized their survey score, and asked for their voter intention again. The results showed that no more than 22% of the manipulated replies were detected, and that a full 92% of the participants accepted and endorsed our altered political survey score. Furthermore, the final voter intention question indicated that as many as 48% (±9.2%) were willing to consider a left-right coalition shift. This can be contrasted with the established polls tracking the Swedish election, which registered maximally 10% voters open for a swing. Our results indicate that political attitudes and partisan divisions can be far more flexible than what is assumed by the polls, and that people can reason about the factual issues of the campaign with considerable openness to change.
In growing recognition of the importance of how scientific research is designed, performed, communicated, and evaluated, PLOS Biology announces a broadening of its scope to cover meta-research articles.
Science is an essential component of policy-making in most areas of government, but the scientific community does not always understand its role in this process.
Open Science is encouraged by the European Union and many other political and scientific institutions. However, scientific practice is proving slow to change. We propose, as early career researchers, that it is our task to change scientific research into open scientific research and commit to Open Science principles.
One of the challenges of international alcohol research and policy is the variability in and lack of knowledge of how governments in different nations define a standard drink and low-risk drinking. This study gathered such information from governmental agencies in 37 countries.