Why the Reward Structure of Science Makes Reproducibility Problems Inevitable

Journal of Philosophy 115 (12):661-674 (2018)
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Recent philosophical work has praised the reward structure of science, while recent empirical work has shown that many scientific results may not be reproducible. I argue that the reward structure of science incentivizes scientists to focus on speed and impact at the expense of the reproducibility of their work, thus contributing to the so-called reproducibility crisis. I use a rational choice model to identify a set of sufficient conditions for this problem to arise, and I argue that these conditions plausibly apply to a wide range of research situations. Currently proposed solutions will not fully address this problem. Philosophical commentators should temper their optimism about the reward structure of science.

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Remco Heesen
London School of Economics


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