Summary of How to Fix Science

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In 2017, a million people took to the streets to protest a war that some would call imaginary – the war on science. Back in the days of the polio vaccine, scientists were heroes working for the public good. So where does the current distrust of science come from, and is there anything that can be done within science to improve research, support young researchers and alleviate the public’s suspicion? The Scientific American report How to Fix Science turns to renowned chemists, biologists, data scientists and science writers to provide actionable answers to pressing scientific issues.

About the Authors

John P. A. Ioannidis is a professor of medicine, of health research and policy, of biomedical data science and of statistics at Stanford University; he is co-director of the Meta-Research Innovation Center (METRICS) at Stanford. Shannon Palus is a freelance journalist and staff reporter at Wirecutter, which is part of the New York Times Company. Clara Moskowitz is a senior editor at Scientific American. Graham A. J. Worthy is founder and director of the National Center for Integrated Coastal Research at the university of Central Florida (UCF Coastal) and chairs the department of biology. Cherie L. Yestrebsky is associate director of UCF Coastal and chairs the department of chemistry.



Before winning the “war on science,” battles within science need attention.

Is science under attack? When world leaders deny climate change and move away from the evidence-based practices recommended by scientists, it certainly seems that way. In 2017, a million people showed up to support the March for Science, demonstrating that there’s support for increased scientific literacy, political reform and science education for the public. But while these initiatives endeavor to influence the way others perceive science, there are also problems with the way science is currently practiced.

Transparency, replication and meta-research are vital to good science, but they are labor-intensive and poorly compensated.

After reading the Methods section of a study, you should be able to reproduce that study step by step. But it rarely works out that way. Part of the reason is the culture of academia. It’s competitive and scientists don’t want to share, especially when it generates substantial risk and supplies ammo to their professional nemeses. Even if a scientist has the best intentions, assembling the necessary information takes time and isn’t ...

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