Improving the reproducibility of biomedical research

The Academy has published a new joint report on how the reproducibility and reliability of research can be improved.

Recent reports in the general and scientific media show there is increasing concern within the biomedical research community about the lack of reproducibility of key research findings.

To explore how to improve and optimise the reproducibility of biomedical research, the Academy co-organised a symposium in April 2015 with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Wellcome Trust.

This exercise resulted in a report, published today, Reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research: improving research practice, which proposes potential solutions to keep science in top shape.

The key messages of the report are:

  1. There is no single cause of irreproducibility.
     
  2. A number of measures might improve reproducibility, including:
  • Greater openness and transparency in research.
  • Better use of research collaborations.
  • Reporting guidelines.
  • Pre-registration of research protocols and Post-publication peer review.
  • Better use of standards and quality control measures.
  1. The success of these sorts of measures will depend on a number of overarching factors – both ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ – such as:
  • The environment and culture of biomedical research.
  • Raising awareness among researchers and continuing education and training.
  1. A ‘one size fits all’ approach is unlikely to be effective.
     
  2. Measures to improve reproducibility should be developed in consultation with the biomedical research community and evaluated to ensure that they achieve the desired effects.

The report also highlights that journalists, science writers and press officers share responsibility with researchers to report science accurately – and not overstate the certainty of studies.   

Further information on this project, along with a joint statement from the meeting organisers, is available from our project page.

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