One year of action on research reproducibility

The Academy has published an online summary of actions undertaken by research funders to improve research reproducibility. The actions were prompted by the Academy’s 2015 report Reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research: improving research practice.

The 2015 reproducibility report highlighted the potential causes of irreproducibility in research and suggested ways to address them. It resulted from a symposium organised by the Academy with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Wellcome.

The original report was accompanied by a statement signed by all stakeholders involved, which promised to develop and implement changes to address the issue, and also to publish an update on any progress made, within the year.

The update, launched online today (link), highlights important new initiatives to increase openness and transparency, such as Wellcome's new publishing platform, Wellcome Open Research, which allow grant holders to rapidly publish all outputs from their research. The Academy itself joined EuropePMC, the open access repository, in August 2016 and now requires its grant awardees to make their publications available through it.

All stakeholders are developing the way their grant applications are reviewed, giving more weight to study design and proposed experimental methodologies.

The MRC is now providing more space in its grant applications for details of experimental design and methodology, and BBSRC has provided training for their peer review teams to ensure appropriate handling of grant applications, regarding experimental design especially where animals are used. Likewise, the Academy is reviewing the training needs of grant panel members.

The need for education and training of researchers is also being targeted, with BBSRC recently funding a proposal to develop an annual residential training course on robust research approaches, with space for 30 students per year over three successive years.

Work has also been ongoing to raise awareness of the issue of reproducibility. The Academy has been working to raise the international profile of this issue through various channels, such as the EuroScience Open Forum 2016 and a further statement on the need of increasing reproducibility in collaboration with the InterAcademy Partnership for Health.

The Academy will continue to work with partners on activities to address the issue of research reproducibility over the next 12 months and report on progress again in the future.


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