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Aspiring to greater intellectual humility in science

Abstract

The replication crisis in the social, behavioural and life sciences has spurred a reform movement aimed at increasing the credibility of scientific studies. Many of these credibility-enhancing reforms focus, appropriately, on specific research and publication practices. A less often mentioned aspect of credibility is the need for intellectual humility or being transparent about and owning the limitations of our work. Although intellectual humility is presented as a widely accepted scientific norm, we argue that current research practice does not incentivize intellectual humility. We provide a set of recommendations on how to increase intellectual humility in research articles and highlight the central role peer reviewers can play in incentivizing authors to foreground the flaws and uncertainty in their work, thus enabling full and transparent evaluation of the validity of research.

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Acknowledgements

We thank A. Allard, A. Holcombe, H. Kiers, L. King, S. Lindsay and D. Trafimow for valuable input for this paper.

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Correspondence to Rink Hoekstra.

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Hoekstra, R., Vazire, S. Aspiring to greater intellectual humility in science. Nat Hum Behav 5, 1602–1607 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-021-01203-8

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