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Reproducibility of research - A new standard


figshare is happy to announce our involvement with the Reproducibility Initiative in collaboration with Science Exchange and PLOS. The Reproducibility Initiative is a new program to help scientists, institutions and funding agencies validate their critical research findings.

“In the last year, problems in reproducing academic research have drawn a lot of public attention, particularly in the context of translating research into medical advances. Recent studies indicate that up to 70% of research from academic labs cannot be reproduced, representing an enormous waste of money and effort," said Dr. Elizabeth Iorns, Science Exchange’s co-founder and CEO. “In my experience as a researcher, I found that the problem lay primarily in the lack of incentives and opportunities for validation - the Reproducibility Initiative directly tackles these missing pieces."

The Reproducibility Initiative provides both a mechanism for scientists to independently replicate their findings and a reward for doing so. Scientists who apply to have their studies replicated are matched with experimental service providers based on the expertise required. The data from these studies will be hosted on figshare. The initiative leverages Science Exchange’s existing marketplace for scientific services. Scientists will receive the results of their validation studies and have the opportunity to publish them in the journal PLOS ONE as part of a Special Collection highlighting the importance of reproducibility in scientific research.

The Reproducibility Initiative will provide a mechanism for industry to identify robust new drug targets for developing effective new therapies. "It is critically important to independently validate preclinical data before moving to the clinic," said Dr. Lee Ellis of MD Anderson, an Advisor to the Reproducibility Initiative who co-authored a widely read article in Nature earlier this year on the need to improve the reliability of preclinical cancer studies. “Patients are not just subjects in a study, and we owe it to them to validate preclinical studies prior to moving a drug or a regimen into clinical trials."

Also expressing his support for the Initiative was Dr John Ioannidis of Stanford University, "The Reproducibility Initiative is a very important pilot effort, offering valuable insights on how reproducibility checks can work in real life." Dr. Ioannidis, also an Advisor to the Reproducibility Initiative, published a study in PLOS Medicine titled “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False".

The Reproducibility Initiative is initially accepting 40-50 studies for validation. Studies will be selected on the basis of potential clinical impact and the scope of the experiments required and, in aggregate, may eventually serve as a proof-of-concept for this mechanism of validation to funding agencies and patient groups.

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