Insights into the quantification and reporting of model-related uncertainty across different disciplines
Simmonds EG., Adjei KP., Andersen CW., Hetle Aspheim JC., Battistin C., Bulso N., Christensen HM., Cretois B., Cubero R., Davidovich IA., Dickel L., Dunn B., Dunn-Sigouin E., Dyrstad K., Einum S., Giglio D., Gjerløw H., Godefroidt A., González-Gil R., Gonzalo Cogno S., Große F., Halloran P., Jensen MF., Kennedy JJ., Langsæther PE., Laverick JH., Lederberger D., Li C., Mandeville EG., Mandeville C., Moe E., Navarro Schröder T., Nunan D., Sicacha-Parada J., Simpson MR., Skarstein ES., Spensberger C., Stevens R., Subramanian AC., Svendsen L., Theisen OM., Watret C., O'Hara RB.
Quantifying uncertainty associated with our models is the only way we can express how much we know about any phenomenon. Incomplete consideration of model-based uncertainties can lead to overstated conclusions with real-world impacts in diverse spheres, including conservation, epidemiology, climate science, and policy. Despite these potentially damaging consequences, we still know little about how different fields quantify and report uncertainty. We introduce the “sources of uncertainty” framework, using it to conduct a systematic audit of model-related uncertainty quantification from seven scientific fields, spanning the biological, physical, and political sciences. Our interdisciplinary audit shows no field fully considers all possible sources of uncertainty, but each has its own best practices alongside shared outstanding challenges. We make ten easy-to-implement recommendations to improve the consistency, completeness, and clarity of reporting on model-related uncertainty. These recommendations serve as a guide to best practices across scientific fields and expand our toolbox for high-quality research.