Research Ecosystems, Cognitive Bias and Incentives

Prof. Marcus Munafò

MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit,
School of Psychological Science, University of Bristol

There has been growing interest in the question of research quality in recent years, a situation amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. An important question is the extent to which research culture, and current incentives, shape the behaviour of scientists in ways that may not be optimal. I argue that one benefit of adopting open research practices is that these act as an implicit quality control measure, which may serve to improve the quality of scientific outputs, and in turn the efficiency of the scientific process.

Marcus Munafò is Professor of Biological Psychology at the University of Bristol, and Programme Lead within the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit. Together with Angela Attwood and Olivia Maynard, he leads the Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group ( His research interests focus on causal influences on and consequences of health behaviours, using approaches that include epidemiology, human laboratory studies, and field trials. He is also interested in how current incentive structures within science shape the behaviour of scientists, and have an impact on the quality of published work. He recently, together with colleagues from Cardiff, Oxford, Imperial College and Edinburgh, established the UK Reproducibility Network (

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