I’ll be participating in two panels at the 4S annual meeting on Sept 4-7, 2019. The first is a panel co-organized with Sergio Sismondo, “Classic STS Papers, Re-incorporated, Reimagined, Re-enacted.” The second is a panel organized by Aaron Panofsky and David Peterson, “Reproducibility and Other Problems: Practical and Institutional Responses to Contemporary Crises in Science.” The abstract for the paper I’ll be presenting in this second panel is below.
Mapping the discursive space of the reproducibility crisis
One of the distinctive aspects of the reproducibility crisis is its scope—scientists across a wide array of disciplines, using many different techniques and studying many different phenomena, have reported problems with reproducing supposedly stable findings. Commentators on the crisis identify a similarly broad set of purported causes of irreproducibility and potential solutions. This presentation aims to map the discursive space of the reproducibility crisis, using a database of approximately 350 editorials, commentaries, review articles, newspaper articles, and blog posts. Through combining qualitative data analysis with clustering techniques, patterns in the way that commentators frame the crisis become visible. In some narratives, for example, it is the production of a seemingly implausible finding using established methods that precipitates crisis, while in others it is the quantification of the extent of poor methodological practices that signals the need for reform. Mapping the discursive space in this way makes it possible to differentiate between several different crisis narratives that are traveling together under the banner of reproducibility.