The Truth Wears Off? The Reproducibility Crisis in Historical Perspective

Science and Technology Studies

This project examines the “reproducibility crisis,” a recent phenomenon where scientists have found many findings to be difficult to replicate on subsequent investigation. Through a historical investigation of three areas where reproducibility discussions have been especially active—the management of animal housing, design of clinical trials, and use of meta-analysis techniques—the project aims to investigate how scientists understand the stability (or instability) of the natural world, and how they shape the world with these assumptions in mind.

Collection and organization of primary sources (in particular, blog posts, social media posts, news articles, and other popular sources covering the reproducibility crisis); collection and organization of secondary sources; writing short summaries of secondary sources; transcription of interview data; qualitative coding of interview data and/or primary sources.

One of the unique features of the reproducibility crisis is the extent to which it has been discussed in scientific and popular publications, and having a research partner will allow me to collect and analyze much more material than I'd be able to on my own. I'd be especially excited to work with someone who wanted to analyze Twitter conversations about reproducibility, because I suspect that this is a source of data I would not be able to have time to analyze without help.

I offer training in qualitative data analysis and archival research skills, and am open to co-authorship of a publication if our interests align closely enough.