Poor hypotheses and research waste in biology: learning from a theory crisis in psychology

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Authors

Shinichi Nakagawa, David W Armitage, Tom Froese, Yefeng Yang, Malgorzata Lagisz

Abstract

While psychologists have extensively discussed a ‘theory crisis’, there has been no debate about such a crisis in biology. However, biologists, especially those working in the fields of ecology and evolution, have long discussed communication failures between theoreticians and empiricists. We argue such failure is one aspect of a theory crisis because misapplied and misunderstood theories lead to poor hypotheses and research waste. We review solutions for a theory crisis, comparing them with methodology-focused solutions proposed for a replication crisis. One neglected solution deserving further attention concerns the systematic mapping of theoretical models. We conclude by discussing how promoting inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA) in theoretical biology could contribute to ameliorating breakdowns in the theory-empirical cycle in biology.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.32942/X2S03W

Subjects

Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Life Sciences

Keywords

Dates

Published: 2024-05-27 17:22

Last Updated: 2024-06-10 11:24

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License

CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

Additional Metadata

Language:
English

Conflict of interest statement:
None

Data and Code Availability Statement:
Not applicableā€