Giving the same information to multiple scientific teams can lead to very different conclusions, a report published today in Nature shows.
And that’s exactly why two researchers think scientists should share their data with others — well before they publish.
In this experiment, 29 scientific teams were given the same information about soccer games. They were asked to answer the question “Are dark-skinned players more likely to be given red cards than light-skinned ones?” Some scientists found that there was no significant difference between light-skinned and dark-skinned players, whereas others found a very strong trend toward giving more red cards to dark-skinned players. So, even though a pooled result showed that dark-skinned players were 30 percent more likely than light-skinned players to receive red cards, the final conclusion drawn from this exercise — that a bias exists — was a lot more nuanced than it likely would have been if only one team had conducted the analysis.