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The Reproducibility Project's first findings highlight reproducibility crisis

Sneha Kulkarni | Jan 24, 2017 | 1,054 views
The Reproducibility Project’s first findings highlight reproducibility crisis

The Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology has made available the results of the first five studies it attempted to replicate, and their report has taken the world of biology by storm. The findings published in eLife journal state that out of the five studies, only two were successfully repeated, while one failed replication and the remaining two concluded in “uninterpretable results.”  

The Reproducibility Project is not the first attempt to repeat published results. In 2012, a biotechnology firm, Amgen, had published a report stating that the company’s researchers had failed to replicate 47 of 53 groundbreaking cancer studies. Inspired by this, the Reproducibility Project was launched as a collaborated effort by Science Exchange and the Center for Open Science to replicate 29 high-profile cancer studies published from 2010 to 2012 that are in preclinical stage. However, unlike Amgen’s project, the process and findings of the Reproducibility Project will be made freely available.

These are the details of the studies that were reproduced as part of the Reproducibility Project:

Many academics, particularly biologists, have expressed their support to the project as it exposes the lack of methodology details in published literature, and encourages researchers not to take results at face value. However, others have highlighted the fact that replicating biological studies is extremely difficult as there are several layers of complexity involved. Therefore, they advise against interpreting a failed replication as a permanent ruling on a study. However, John Ioannidis, epidemiologist of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California and an advisor to the project, summed up the project’s findings as: “The composite picture is, there is a reproducibility problem.”

References:      

Rigorous replication effort succeeds for just two of five cancer papers

Cancer reproducibility project releases first results

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