Validating Research
Steps for Restoring Trust in Experimental Results

Marcia McNutt

Editor-in-Chief, Science and the Science Family of Journals

Videography by Nerine & Robert Clemenzi, Edited by Nerine Clemenzi
Copyright © Philosophical Society of Washington.  All rights reserved.

Sponsored by The Policy Studies Organization
In Cooperation with the American Public University

Gavel to Gavel Meeting


Science is a self-correcting process, and the reproduction of seminal experiments is standard practice; but, the process is not immediately infallible.  When published science is found to be irreproducible, time and money are wasted, and scientists lose credibility. Recent irreproducibility of several high-profile studies has raised concerns about the reproducibility of published results.  It has become important to understand the origins of irreproducibility and what can be done to improve reproducibility and transparency.  Only a very small fraction of papers are found to be tainted by purposeful fraud in which the experimenter intended to mislead other scientists.  Typically, the source of irreproducibility is more complex.  This presentation will explore the sources of irreproducibility and measures that can be adopted by research institutions, funding agencies, and publishers to reduce irreproducibility and increase reliability and transparency in scientific publications.

Biographical Sketch:

Marcia McNutt
Marcia McNutt

Marcia McNutt is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Science, the flagship publication of AAAS, the world's largest general science organization.  Prior to becoming Editor in Chief of Science, Marcia was Director of the U.S. Geological Survey.  Before that she was President and CEO of he Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.  She also was Professor of Marine Geophysics at Stanford and Professor of Earth Sciences and Marine Geophysics at UC-Santa Cruz.

Marcia's research includes studies of ocean island volcanism, continental break-up, and uplift of the Tibetan plateau.  She has participated in numerous major ocean expeditions, serving as Chief Scientist on many of them.  She made notable contributions to understanding rheology and strength of the lithosphere, showing for instance that young volcanoes can flex the lithosphere and influence the elevation of other nearby volcanoes.  She showed that weakening is possible in subducting ocean plates.  Using 3-D analysis of topography and gravity data she showed that the Australian plate is strong on short time scales but weak on long scales using.  And she identified the South Pacific Superswell.

Among many honors, Marcia was awarded the Macelwane Medal by the American Geological Union for research accomplishments by a young scientist, the AGU's Maurice Ewing Medal for significant contributions to deep-sea exploration, and the U.S. Coast Guard’s Meritorious Service Medal for her work to contain the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  She is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, the International Association of Geodesy and the AAAS.

She is a past president of the American Geophysical Union, was one of Discover magazine's top fifty women in science, named Scientist of the Year by the ARCS Foundation and an Outstanding Alumna by UC-San Diego, and she is one of the USA Science & Engineering Festival's Nifty Fifty.

Marcia earned a BA in Physics from Colorado College and a PhD in Earth Sciences from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC-San Diego.  She also is the recipient of honorary doctoral degrees from Colorado College, the University of Minnesota, Monmouth University and the Colorado School of Mines.

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