Dean's Lecture

The Digitization of Science and the Degradation of the Scientific Method

Wednesday, May 5, 2010
4:00 pm to 5:30 pm
Victoria Stodden

As the scientific enterprise becomes increasingly computational, the nature of the information communicated must change. Without inclusion of the code and data with published computational results, we are engendering a credibility crisis in science. Controversies such as ClimateGate, the microarray-based drug sensitivity clinical trials under investigation at Duke University, and retractions from prominent journals due to unverified code suggest the need for greater transparency in our computational science. In this talk I argue that the scientific method be restored to (1) a focus on error control as central to scientific communication and (2) complete communication of the underlying methodology producing the results, ie. reproducibility. I outline barriers to these goals based on recent survey work (Stodden 2010), and suggest solutions such as the “Reproducible Research Standard” (Stodden 2009), giving open licensing options designed to create an intellectual property framework for scientists consonant with longstanding scientific norms.

Victoria Stodden is postdoctoral associate in law and Kauffman fellow in law and innovation at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Victoria completed her Ph.D. in statistics at Stanford University in 2006 and master's in legal studies from Stanford Law School. Her current research includes how pervasive and large-scale computation is changing our practice of the scientific method and the underlying statistical methodology, and the role of legal framing for scientific openness and advancement. In 2008 she won the Kaltura Writing Competition, issued in connection with the Third Conference on Access to Knowledge.

She has held a postdoc position in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group at MIT's Sloan School of Management, and been a research fellow at the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School. She worked as a summer extern at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit with Chief Judge Kozinski and served as Managing Editor of the Stanford Law and Policy Review in 2007. She has been a summer intern at (formerly Xerox PARC) and IBM's T. J. Watson Research Labs.

Her webpage, including talks and publications, is and she blogs at .

Last updated:

August 23, 2016