Lack of transparency is the bottleneck in academia2017 Sep 01
One of my biggest mistakes was to make my whole master’s degrees dissertation using private data (provided by my former employer) using closed tools (e.g. Viscovery Mine). This was for me a huge blocker to share my research with every single person in the community, and get a second opinion about my work in regard of reproducibility. I working to open my data and making a new version, or book, about this kind of analysis using Non Performing Loans data. Here in Denny’s blog, he talks about how engineering is the bottleneck in Deep Learning Research, where he made the following statements:
I will use the Deep Learning community as an example, because that’s what I’m familiar with, but this probably applies to other communities as well. As a community of researchers we all share a common goal: Move the field forward. Push the state of the art. There are various ways to do this, but the most common one is to publish research papers. The vast majority of published papers are incremental, and I don’t mean this in a degrading fashion. I believe that research is incremental by definition, which is just another way of saying that new work builds upon what other’s have done in the past. And that’s how it should be. To make this concrete, the majority of the papers I come across consist of more than 90% existing work, which includes datasets, preprocessing techniques, evaluation metrics, baseline model architectures, and so on. The authors then typically add a bit novelty and show improvement over well-established baselines.
So far nothing is wrong with this. The problem is not the process itself, but how it is implemented. There are two issues that stand out to me, both of which can be solved with “just engineering.” 1. Waste of research time and 2. Lack of rigor and reproducibility. Let’s look at each of them.
And the final musing:
Personally, I do not trust paper results at all. I tend to read papers for inspiration – I look at the ideas, not at the results. This isn’t how it should be. What if all researchers published code? Wouldn’t that solve the problem? Actually, no. Putting your 10,000 lines of undocumented code on Github and saying “here, run this command to reproduce my number” is not the same as producing code that people will read, understand, verify, and build upon. It’s like Shinichi Mochizuki’s proof of the ABC Conjecture, producing something that nobody except you understands.
Personally, I think this approach of discarding the results and focus on the novelty of methods is better than to try to understand any result aspect that the researcher wants to cover up through academic BS complexity.