Using automation to combat the replication crisis: A case study from controlled-rearing studies of newborn chicks
The accuracy of science depends on the precision of its methods. When fields produce precise measurements, the scientific method can generate remarkable gains in knowledge. When fields produce noisy measurements, however, the scientific method is not guaranteed to work: in fact, noisy measurements are now regarded as a leading cause of the replication crisis in psychology. Scientists should therefore strive to improve the precision of their methods, especially in fields with noisy measurements. Here, we show that automation can reduce measurement error by ∼60% in one domain of developmental psychology: controlled-rearing studies of newborn chicks. Automated studies produce measurements that are 3–4 times more precise than non- automated studies and produce effect sizes that are 3–4 times larger than non-automated studies. Automation also eliminates experimenter bias and allows replications to be performed quickly and easily. We suggest that automation can be a powerful tool for improving measurement precision, producing high powered experiments, and combating the replication crisis.