A big part of this problem has to do with what’s been called a “reproducibility crisis” in science – many studies if run a second time don’t come up with the same results. Scientists are worried about this situation, and high-profile international research journals have raised the alarm, too, calling on researchers to put more effort into ensuring their results can be reproduced, rather than only striving for splashy, one-off outcomes. Concerns about irreproducible results in science resonate outside the ivory tower, as well, because a lot of this research translates into information that affects our everyday lives.
A high-profile project aiming to test reproducibility in cancer biology has released a second batch of results, and this time the news is good: Most of the experiments from two key cancer papers could be repeated. The latest replication studies, which appear today in eLife, come on top of five published in January that delivered a mixed message about whether high-impact cancer research can be reproduced. Taken together, however, results from the completed studies are “encouraging,” says Sean Morrison of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, an eLife editor. Overall, he adds, independent labs have now “reproduced substantial aspects” of the original experiments in four of five replication efforts that have produced clear results.
In this RCE Podcast, Brock Palen and Jeff Squyres discuss Reproducible Neuroscience with RCE Podcast Chris Gorgolewski from Stanford. "In recent years there has been increasing concern about the reproducibility of scientific results. Because scientific research represents a major public investment and is the basis for many decisions that we make in medicine and society, it is essential that we can trust the results. Our goal is to provide researchers with tools to do better science. Our starting point is in the field of neuroimaging, because that’s the domain where our expertise lies."
The University of Minnesota Libraries addressed this issue head-on this year by launching the reproducibility portal in an effort to help faculty and others on campus improve their research practices. The portal is a collaboration that includes Liberal Arts Technology and Information Services (LATIS) and the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI).
Not a week passes without reproducibility in science – or the lack of it – hitting the headlines. Although much of the criticism is directed at the biomedical sciences or psychology, many of the same problems also pervade the chemical sciences.
Reproducibility is the idea that an experiment can be repeated by another scientist and they will get the same result. It is important to show that the claims of any experiment are true and for them to be useful for any further research. However, science appears to have an issue with reproducibility. A survey by Nature revealed that 52% of researchers believed there was a "significant reproducibility crisis" and 38% said there was a "slight crisis". We asked three experts how they think the situation could be improved.