What is Metascience?
Research is a process of collecting data and analyzing it to reach a conclusion on a specific subject. The research methods and practices are in constant development and change with the subject matter. In order to evaluate and improve the research methods and the process as a whole, researchers use meta-science, also called meta-research. It is a study of science itself, “research on research.” It seeks the reasons why specific research projects fail and offers solutions to overcome those obstacles.
In the article “Meta-research: Evaluation and Improvement of Research Methods and Practices” published in October 2015 issue of “PLOS Biology “ journal, authors John P. A. Ioannidis, Daniele Fanelli, Debbie Drake Dunne, Steven N. Goodman define five significant areas of interest of meta-research.
Meta-research areas of interest:
Meta-research tries to identify biases and poor practices in research methods, research design, and statistics abuse and offers strategies to reduce biases and practices.
- Choosing the right research methods (qualitative or quantitative) and data collection methods play a crucial role in the result and save time and effort.
- Abuse of statistics – misuse of statistics can sometimes be accidental, leading the research in the wrong direction. Fields such as healthcare and medicine are sensitive to this kind of issue, and such error may result in loss of human life.
Meta-research seeks the best practices in reporting and explaining the research. If the research report contains author bias, the result will not represent the real situation. Meta-research proposes reporting standards to prevent such cases.
Meta-research creates an opportunity for peer review that includes pre-publication peer review, post-publication peer review, and open peer review. Peer review is a discussion of a particular research project among other researchers. These discussions can help to achieve better results with the research.
- Pre-publication peer review – Research outline, methods are reviewed before the research is published through various channels. It usually is the best practice because the researchers know the strengths and weaknesses of the research before it is introduced to the public.
- Post-publication peer review - Scholars or selected readers share their opinions on the research results after it is published.
- Open peer review – In this case, the research results can be open to discussions with large groups.
Meta-research attempts to find the best methods to avoid issues in sharing data and methods, replication of studies.
Meta-research looks for ways to reward the research better. What usually happens is that the researcher is rewarded for published research, no matter if it is done right or not.
Meta-research can help fill the gaps in the research process. These gaps can be in research design, methods, data collection methods, result reports, data sharing, and research replication. Met-research assures better and more precise solutions to a given issue by analyzing and preventing all the research shortcomings.