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Interpreting the results of scientific studies


Controversies in science often occur after a failed prediction of a theory. Is the theory motivating the study to blame or was the problem a more minor detail of the study, such as the equipment or population studied? Until recently, there has not been a good framework to prescribe how blame should be assigned. This project will develop that framework and compare it to what researchers actually do.


Professor Alex Holcombe, Dr Evan Livesey.

Research location

School of Psychology

Program type



When a scientific study is done, often a prediction has been made. However, when the result is different than what was predicted, the interpretation of this is uncertain. Should the researcher blame the theory that made the prediction, or should the researcher blame an equipment failure or other peripheral aspect of the study? This project will investigate what researchers do and whether this fits what Bayesian probability theory says they should do. The results may improve understanding of disagreement among researchers, and episodes such as the replication crisis.

Additional information

HDR Inherent Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2807