The role of replication studies in ecology

Replication Open science Ecosystems
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Recent large-scale projects in other disciplines have shown that results often fail to replicate when studies are repeated. The conditions contributing to this problem are also present in ecology but there have not been any equivalent replication projects. Here we examine ecologists’ understanding of and opinions about replication studies. When asked what percentage of ecological studies are replicated, the median response given by ecologists is 10%. The majority of ecologists in our sample considered replication studies to be important (97%), not prevalent enough (91%), worth funding even given limited resources (61%), and suitable for publication in all journals (62%). However, there is a disconnect between this enthusiasm and the prevalence of direct replication studies in the literature which, is much lower than our participants’ estimate of 10%. This may be explained by the obstacles our participants identified including the difficulty of conducting replication studies and of funding and publishing them. We conclude by offering suggestions for how replications could be better integrated into ecological research.

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