eLife Latest: Highlighting meta-research

A new collection page brings together articles that eLife has published in the burgeoning field of meta-research.

By Peter Rodgers, Features Editor, eLife

eLife welcomes the submission of manuscripts reporting new findings in meta-research via our website. Such submissions should be formatted like Research Articles or Short Reports, and should include the prefix Meta-Research in the title (see the eLife Author Guide for more details on formatting). Authors should select "Initial Submission: Feature Article" when submitting, and are requested to include a list of 4–6 potential referees in their cover letter: for each potential referee, please include a one-sentence explanation of why they are suitable. Authors do not need to select a subject area during the submission process, but they do need to suggest two Senior Editors (one of whom should be Peter Rodgers) and two Reviewing Editors.

Meta-research is research that uses the methods of science to study science itself. Also known as meta-science or the science of science, it involves studying the processes and decisions that shape the evolution of scientific research.

Meta-research encompasses a wide a range of topics, as demonstrated on our new collection page. A number of the articles in the collection report studies conducted on the scientific literature, such as a study which showed that adequate statistical power in clinical trials was most often found in papers with a male first author and a female last author. Another article found that the scientific literature had become less readable over time.

Bias is a theme that runs through a number of the articles, with reports on different aspects of publication bias and gender bias in peer review. Two articles explored the workings of the National Institutes of Health, which spends over $35billion per year on biomedical research in the United States: one study explored scientific productivity as a function of grant size, while another questioned the ability of peer review panels to predict the productivity of grants. Other topics include Sci-Hub, faculty diversity and the financial costs of research misconduct, and more articles are in the pipeline.