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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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NIH Takes Steps to Improve Reproducibility
27 January 2014 1:00 pm
For the last few years, concerns have been growing in the biomedical research community that many animal studies can’t be reproduced in other labs. The problem has frustrated industry researchers and raised questions about the basis for some clinical trials. Today, in a comment in Nature, leaders at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) discuss several efforts to improve the reproducibility of preclinical research.
NIH Director Francis Collins and Principal Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak write that “the checks and balances that once ensured scientific fidelity have been hobbled.” They blame several factors: poor training, an emphasis on provocative conclusions in papers, a dearth of experimental details, and an overemphasis on publications in high-impact journals.
To address these problems, NIH is launching several pilot projects, such as a training module to teach young researchers how to design better experiments. The agency also plans to have grant reviewers use checklists to make sure proposed experiments are properly designed.
Journals also need to be part of the solution, the NIH leaders write. They praise announcements last year by the Nature Publishing Group and Science Translational Medicine and this month by Science that these journals will require more details about experiments and will check a study’s statistical analysis.
To correct a skewed academic rewards system, the agency may change its requirements for submitting biographical sketches, so that they emphasize an author’s contributions rather than publications. It’s an idea that National Cancer Institute chief Harold Varmus has espoused. NIH is also looking at funding more researchers through long-term grants and making the peer-review process anonymous to reduce bias.