The replication and reproducibility crises: origins and consequences for studies of ecology and evolution




Reproducibility, P-value, uncertainty, novelty, hypothesis testing


Watch the VIDEO.

There is a widespread discussion around a scientific crisis, resulting from a lack of reproducibility of published scientific studies. This was exemplified by Ioannidis’ 2005 paper “Why most published research findings are false” or the 2015 Open Science Collaboration study assessing reproducibility of psychological science. An often-cited reason for this reproducibility crisis is a fundamental misunderstanding of what statistical methods, and in particular P-values, can achieve. In the context of studies of ecology and evolution, I will show how 1) the pressure for publishing “novel” results, 2) what Gelman has called the “garden of forking paths”, i.e. the fact that published analyses represent only one out of many possible analyses, and 3) the often fruitless dichotomy between a null and alternative hypotheses, has led to the present situation. While scientific progress is dependent of major breakthroughs, we also need to find a better balance between confirmatory research – understanding how known effects vary in size according to the context – and exploratory, non-incremental research – finding new effects.


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Author Biography

Nigel Gilles Yoccoz, UiT The Arctic University of Norway

Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economics



Ioannidis, J. P. A. 2005. Why most published research findings are false. Plos Medicine 2:696-701.

Open_Science_Collaboration. 2015. Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science. Science 349.

Yoccoz, N. G. 1991. Use, overuse and misuse of significance tests in evolutionary biology and ecology. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 72:106-111.




How to Cite

Yoccoz, N. G. (2018). The replication and reproducibility crises: origins and consequences for studies of ecology and evolution. Septentrio Conference Series, (1).