Chapter 6. Where Science-as-a-Service and Supercomputing Meet

A Deeper Look: Russell Poldrack and the Center for Reproducible Neuroscience

With the meteoric advancement of technology, there is increasing scrutiny about how science is getting done. The Internet has enabled scientific results to be publicized, disseminated, modified, and expanded within minutes. Social media can subsequently propagate that information universally, allowing virtually anyone with access to WiFi to influence—and, therefore, potentially skew—data collection procedures and results. Ultimately, this means that reproducibility of modern science is under attack.

Russell Poldrack and his colleagues at the Stanford Center for Reproducible Neuroscience (for brevity’s sake, we will refer to this as SCRN) are tackling that problem head on.

“We think that the kind of platform that we’re building has the chance to actually improve the quality of the conclusions that we can draw from science overall,” said Poldrack, codirector of SCRN and professor of psychology at Stanford.

SCRN, founded last year, empowers researchers to easily access tools to analyze or share their data and analysis workflows, while paying specific attention to the reproducibility of research. In particular, SCRN focuses on neuroimaging research which, due to its complexity, offers individuals flexibility when analyzing it.

“One of the big issues centers around harnessing that flexibility so that people don’t just punt for one ...

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