What is a replication?

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This page needs attention because this text was written by a former student assistant working for the project. It is lacking sources and needs significant rewriting.

Replication is "the act or process of duplicating or reproducing something". Applied to science, the term replication refers to attempts to reproduce experiments in order to verify or falsify them. The term replication is not clearly defined. It depends on the specific scientific subject as well as the degree to which replication attempts are being carried out.


Replication with respect to different subjects

Replication in philosophy

The problem of replicating empirical results is closely related to the problem of induction, according to David Hume and Charles Peirce. In this respect empirical science is subject to generalization and thus not to be regarded as scientific proofs. Karl Popper responded to this problem by stating that induction is not a scientific method. Instead, the creation of knowledge took place by conjecture. Accordingly, science was due to falsifiability. In this respect replication plays a key role in science, as its function is to either falsify or provide support to empirical findings.


Natural sciences

In natural sciences there is a big emphasis on the matter of replication. Experimental results are generally regarded as being scientifically proven, if there is a sufficiently large number of replications that confirm these particular results. In this respect Cartwright and Collins distinguish replication from simple checking by referring to the phenomenon of "experimental regress". Accordingly, there is a close link between experimental results and its set up, which can lead to a bias of a replication if it is repeatedly subject to the same set up. Therefore, replication would involve applying a slightly different experimental set up.

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