Re-envisioning Reporting of Scientific Methods

Authors: David Crotty and Michael Stebbins


The information contained in the methods section of the overwhelming majority of research publications is insufficient to definitively evaluate research practices, let alone reproduce the work. Publication—and subsequent reuse—of detailed scientific methodologies can save researchers time and money, and can accelerate the pace of research overall. However, there is no existing mechanism for collective action to improve reporting of scientific methods. The Biden-Harris Administration should direct research-funding agencies to support development of new standards for reporting scientific methods. These standards would (1) address ongoing challenges in scientific reproducibility, and (2) benefit our nation’s scientific enterprise by improving research quality, reliability, and efficiency.

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About the Authors

David Crotty, Ph.D. is a Senior Consultant at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique management-consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services. David was previously the Editorial Director of Journals Policy for Oxford University Press (OUP). In this role, he oversaw journal policy across OUP’s journals program, drove technological innovation, and served as an information officer. He also acquired and managed a suite of research-society-owned journals with OUP. Prior to joining OUP, David was the Executive Editor for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, where he created and edited new science books and journals along with serving as a journal Editor-in-Chief. David has served on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc., and The AAP-PSP Executive Council. David received his Ph.D. in Genetics from Columbia University and researched developmental neuroscience at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing. As the Executive Editor of the Scholarly Kitchen blog, David regularly writes about current issues in publishing.

Michael Stebbins, Ph.D. is a geneticist and public-policy expert who served as the Assistant Director for Biotechnology in the Obama White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He is currently the President of Science Advisors, a science and health consulting firm he founded in 2018 to provide science, technology, and public-policy guidance to private companies, philanthropies, and nonprofit organizations. While at the White House, Dr. Stebbins’ work led to large initiatives across the federal government to address antibiotic resistance, protect pollinators, improve veterans’ mental health, increase access to federally funded scientific research publications and data, promote preferential purchasing of antibiotic-free meats, reform the regulatory system for biotechnology products, drive federal purchasing of bio-based products, and improve management of scientific collections. Dr. Stebbins previously served as the Vice President of Science and Technology for the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, science advisor to the Obama Presidential Campaign, and on the Obama White House Transition Team. He is the former director of biology policy for the Federation of American Scientists and worked for U.S. Senator Harry Reid and at the National Human Genome Research Institute. Before coming to Washington, he was a senior editor at Nature Genetics. Dr. Stebbins is on the Board of the Value in Cancer Care Consortium and chair of the Board for Vivli. He serves on the scientific advisory boards for Datavant and Amida Technology Solutions.