Metaresearch for Evaluating Reproducibility in Ecology and Evolution

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Recent replication projects in other disciplines have uncovered disturbingly low levels of reproducibility, suggesting that those research literatures may contain unverifiable claims. The conditions contributing to irreproducibility in other disciplines are also present in ecology. These include a large discrepancy between the proportion of “positive” or “significant” results and the average statistical power of empirical research, incomplete reporting of sampling stopping rules and results, journal policies that discourage replication studies, and a prevailing publish-or-perish research culture that encourages questionable research practices. We argue that these conditions constitute sufficient reason to systematically evaluate the reproducibility of the evidence base in ecology and evolution. In some cases, the direct replication of ecological research is difficult because of strong temporal and spatial dependencies, so here, we propose metaresearch projects that will provide proxy measures of reproducibility.

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