The case for formal methodology in scientific reform.
Published Web Locationhttps://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.200805
Current attempts at methodological reform in sciences come in response to an overall lack of rigor in methodological and scientific practices in experimental sciences. However, most methodological reform attempts suffer from similar mistakes and over-generalizations to the ones they aim to address. We argue that this can be attributed in part to lack of formalism and first principles. Considering the costs of allowing false claims to become canonized, we argue for formal statistical rigor and scientific nuance in methodological reform. To attain this rigor and nuance, we propose a five-step formal approach for solving methodological problems. To illustrate the use and benefits of such formalism, we present a formal statistical analysis of three popular claims in the metascientific literature: (i) that reproducibility is the cornerstone of science; (ii) that data must not be used twice in any analysis; and (iii) that exploratory projects imply poor statistical practice. We show how our formal approach can inform and shape debates about such methodological claims.