9.401 | Fall 2022 | Graduate

Tools for Robust Science


Weekly Schedule

In this course, students are presented with challenges and discuss various tools developed to address them. Meeting session activities include 1:1 meetings with faculty and peers, a group opening discussion of the week’s challenge, oral presentations, and a collective critical evaluation of the week’s tool. Individual requirements include oral presentations, weekly written response papers, and a final project.

Week 1

  • Challenge: What are we trying to do here? 
  • Discussion: Reforming science.

Week 2

  • Challenge: Data are wasted, lost, and under-used. 
  • Tool: Data management plans, meta-data standards, data repositories. 

Week 3 

  • Challenge: Experiments cannot be repeated by other labs. 
  • Tool: FAIR protocols; methodology reporting standards. 

Week 4

  • Challenge: Effect sizes are inflated by experimenter degrees of freedom. 
  • Tool: Pre-registration of analysis pipeline. 

Week 5

  • Challenge: Mistakes go uncaught and uncorrected.
  • Tool: Dynamic executable papers; FAIR open-source processing pipelines.

Week 6

  • Challenge: Time and effort are wasted by arbitrary gatekeeping.
  • Tool: Preprints and post-publication review.

Week 7

  • Challenge: Results are only accessible to very rich institutions.
  • Tool: Open access and alternative publishing agreements.

Week 8

  • Challenge: Scientific papers are obsolete.
  • Tool: Video papers, blogs.

Week 9

  • Challenge: Researchers are incentivized to be first, not right.
  • Tool: Badges, transparency audits, openness metrics.

Week 10 

  • Challenge: It’s often unclear who should have credit, access, and ownership.
  • Tools: Collaboration agreements, licensing.

Week 11

  • Challenge: Minoritized scientists are excluded and undervalued.
  • Tool: Citation audits for papers and syllabi.

Week 12

  • Challenge: Basic science does not generalize to the real world.
  • Discussion: What are we trying to achieve, again?

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2022
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments