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March 14, 2017

Acknowledging and Overcoming Nonreproducibility in Basic and Preclinical Research

Author Affiliations
  • 1Stanford Prevention Research Center, Department of Medicine, and Department of Health Research and Policy, School of Medicine, and Department of Statistics, School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California
  • 2Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS), Stanford, California
JAMA. 2017;317(10):1019-1020. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.0549

The evidence for nonreproducibility in basic and preclinical biomedical research is compelling. Accumulating data from diverse subdisciplines and types of experimentation suggest numerous problems that can create a fertile ground for nonreproducibility.1 For example, most raw data and protocols are often not available for in-depth scrutiny and use by other scientists. The current incentive system rewards selective reporting of success stories. There is poor use of statistical methods, and study designs are often suboptimal. Simple laboratory flaws—eg, contamination or incorrect identification of widely used cell lines—occur with some frequency.