Maybe History isn’t that far behind the curve?

Chronicle of Higher Ed reporting on a recent study in biomedicine methodology (CHE article currently behind a paywall, but may eventually be converted to free access).

The study found that only 54% of the instruments and materials used in 238 recently-published articles could be identified from the content of the articles. Not surprisingly, this makes replication of the results (you know, what the scientific method is based on) difficult if not impossible. Takeaway quote: “The group quantified a finding already well-known to scientists: No one seems to know how to write a proper methods section”.

What’s the percentage in History do you think?


One response to “Maybe History isn’t that far behind the curve?”

  1. Erik Lund says :

    Pff. Whoever got a grant doing a replication study?

    Now, a takedown study, on the other hand . . . But I’m assuming that a bad methods section is not much of an obstacle in the way of someone eager to take your scalp home with them.

    Put it another way (again): in practice, progress is made either by getting the results right the first time, or agonistically. What we are lamenting here is the breakdown of the expectation that a scientific result should matter enouogh to be worth refuting, and that both implies that someone cares about the result and that there is some kind of reward for refuting it.

    I’m going to throw it out there that it’s the reward channel that has broken down.

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