Monday, 8 November 2021

Methodology over metrics (2022)


Many people who are not involved in scientific research might be forgiven for thinking that the quality of science that goes on today is as good as it has ever been. In fact, the exact opposite seems to be the case, particularly in bio-medical research. 

A new paper by Van Calster and friends HERE, explains what they think the problem is, and the solution. 

The Abstract in full is as follows:

Covid-19 research made it painfully clear that the scandal of poor medical research, as denounced by Altman in 1994, persists today. The overall quality of medical research remains poor, despite longstanding criticisms. The problems are well known, but the research community fails to properly address them. We suggest that most problems stem from an underlying paradox: although methodology is undeniably the backbone of high-quality and responsible research, science consistently undervalues methodology. The focus remains more on the destination (research claims and metrics) than on the journey. Notwithstanding, research should serve society more than the reputation of those involved. While we notice that many initiatives are being established to improve components of the research cycle, these initiatives are too disjointed. The overall system is monolithic and slow to adapt. We assert that top-down action is needed from journals, universities, funders and governments to break the cycle and put methodology first. These actions should involve the widespread adoption of registered reports, balanced research funding between innovative, incremental and methodological research projects, full recognition and demystification of peer review, improved methodological review of reports, adherence to reporting guidelines, and investment in methodological education and research. Currently, the scientific enterprise is doing a major disservice to patients and society.