Table 3

Participant suggestions on policy and practice changes to reduce the spread of low-quality science

Change agentsRecommended actions
Scientific research institutions
  • Increased education about research integrity, for example, university assignments with research integrity content to ensure students must engage with the topic.

  • Increased university teaching for science undergraduates on how to produce more visually engaging science communications; substantive marks in assignments for presentation and appeal; penalties for obscure jargon and acronyms.

  • Rewards for publication in relevant (rather than high-impact) journals and translational activities such as engagement with community agencies.

  • Enforcement of protocol pre-registration.

  • Encouraged use of checklists to facilitate standardised study designs and reports that can be easily synthesised into systematic reviews.

  • Recognition for peer review activities and/or mandated number of open access peer reviews.

Academic publishing systems
  • Mandated open peer review to allow readers to assess rigour.

  • Mandated use of automated surveillance tools to look for bias and fraud, for example, cross-checking and tracking author’s conflict of interest statements and industry funding statements across different publications.

  • Increased use of in-house expert statisticians for statistical scrutiny of submitted manuscripts.

  • Improved postpublication review processes to enable more timely error correction and/or retraction of flawed research.

Public funding agencies
  • Government-funded country-wide open access to academic journals.80

  • Increased public funding for science research to create better job security for researchers and help reduce the ‘publish or perish’ culture.

  • Increased public funding for news media to ensure different (non-commercial) voices are heard.

Educators
  • Increased school and university-based education on where to find high-quality information sources, how to assess trustworthiness of sources, limitations of algorithm-driven news feeds.

  • Increased school education in science experimentation to encourage better understanding of key concepts such as uncertainty and reproducibility.