To many, the headline of scientific exploration is found in the results. The heart of the scientific process is not, however, solely contingent on the findings, but rather involves the little details that led to the result itself. Careful methodology and procedure is key to sound science and is often overlooked outside of the research community. For this reason, many scientists develop a target finding before conducting their experiment, leading to a design dedicated to a certain conclusion rather than on open discovery.
This approach often breeds methodological neglect and contributes to the current “reproducibility crisis” in science. Dr. Patrick Schloss, of the University of Maryland, addresses this crisis in a recently published study focusing on what we can do to prevent the crisis from becoming worse (Schloss, 2018). He acknowledges the numerous possibilities that could lead to a replication failure, as well as symptoms of larger morality problems. Given the complex nature of this problem, as well as the rising pressure to “publish or perish,” methodological replication is even more important now.
Fortunately, methods publications are powerful tools to ensure reproducibility and transparency in research. Encouraging authors to write these papers, allows the spotlight to be drawn away from the findings and instead focus on the methods themselves. Others can examine, critique, and replicate the techniques with greater precision, due to the details that method papers provide. Not only do they promote reproducibility in science, but methods papers are arguably some of the most cited types of publications available, benefitting the author just as well as the reader.
The key to a sound methods paper is accuracy and detail. JoVE video-articles are great examples of the potential of methods publications and go one step further with the added video demonstration. There are often overlooked details in scientific procedures that are not necessarily spelled out but could be crucial to the outcome of the experiment. This can include anything from misusing a technique to incorrectly interpreting the text due to lack of clarity.
Publishing methods with JoVE not only allows researchers to combat the reproducibility crisis but also guarantees sound understanding due to the visual representation. Video-publishing, although relatively new, will encourage better research and contribute to the future of scientific transparency.