Nav: Home

Transparency and reproducibility of biomedical research is improving

November 20, 2018

Over the past few years, there have been numerous efforts to promote open science practices across the scientific literature. With increased support for sharing of both data and study protocols, an increased appreciation of the importance of reproducing prior research results, and a growing number of journals requiring reporting guidelines and disclosure statements, is there a noticeable impact of open science culture on the biomedical literature?

New research publishing November 20 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology from Joshua Wallach, Kevin Boyack, and John Ioannidis suggests that progress has indeed been made in key areas of research transparency and reproducibility. The authors randomly sampled biomedical journal articles published between 2015 and 2017 and assessed measures of reproducibility and transparency.

This new study builds upon the authors' previous evaluation of articles published between 2000 and 2014, which demonstrated that the biomedical literature largely lacked transparency. In their second assessment, the authors instead find that the majority of recently published articles provided information on funding and conflicts of interest, and statements related to data-sharing had become more widespread.

"Our survey of recently published biomedical articles suggests that there have been some promising improvements in the transparency and openness of the scientific literature," says the paper's lead author Dr. Joshua Wallach, an assistant professor of epidemiology within the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Yale School of Public Health. "In particular, one in five papers included a statement related to data sharing, and many of these referenced specific data repositories."

However, the authors identified only one study that cited a full study protocol, a key element of research reproducibility that allows study procedures to be repeated. Furthermore, although the number of articles attempting to validate previous findings had increased since 2000-2014, only 5% of the current sample was inferred to be a replication effort.

According to Dr. John Ioannidis, the paper's senior author and professor of medicine, health research and policy, biomedical data science and statistics at Stanford University, "There is still much to be desired in terms of transparency and reproducibility for the average paper, but we see major improvements within a short period of time. I am even more optimistic for the future."

The authors conclude that although many scientists may now be aware of the importance of open science, there are still clear opportunities to continue to improve research practices. "We hope our new report highlights key areas of transparency where additional attention is necessary, such as protocol sharing," says Dr. Wallach. Drs. Wallach and Ioannidis are currently collaborating with other investigators to determine the status and trends of reproducibility and transparency in other research fields, including sociology and psychology.
-end-
In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS Biology: http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.2006930

Citation: Wallach JD, Boyack KW, Ioannidis JPA (2018) Reproducible research practices, transparency, and open access data in the biomedical literature, 2015-2017. PLoS Biol 16(11): e2006930. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2006930

Funding: National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health https://projectreporter.nih.gov/project_info_description.cfm?aid=9583616&icde=41489254 (grant number HHSN271201700041C). Received by KWB and JPAI. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Laura and John Arnold Foundation (grant number). Received by the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS). The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

PLOS

Related Data Articles:

Data centers use less energy than you think
Using the most detailed model to date of global data center energy use, researchers found that massive efficiency gains by data centers have kept energy use roughly flat over the past decade.
Storing data in music
Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a technique for embedding data in music and transmitting it to a smartphone.
Life data economics: calling for new models to assess the value of human data
After the collapse of the blockchain bubble a number of research organisations are developing platforms to enable individual ownership of life data and establish the data valuation and pricing models.
Geoscience data group urges all scientific disciplines to make data open and accessible
Institutions, science funders, data repositories, publishers, researchers and scientific societies from all scientific disciplines must work together to ensure all scientific data are easy to find, access and use, according to a new commentary in Nature by members of the Enabling FAIR Data Steering Committee.
Democratizing data science
MIT researchers are hoping to advance the democratization of data science with a new tool for nonstatisticians that automatically generates models for analyzing raw data.
Getting the most out of atmospheric data analysis
An international team including researchers from Kanazawa University used a new approach to analyze an atmospheric data set spanning 18 years for the investigation of new-particle formation.
Ecologists ask: Should we be more transparent with data?
In a new Ecological Applications article, authors Stephen M. Powers and Stephanie E.
Should you share data of threatened species?
Scientists and conservationists have continually called for location data to be turned off in wildlife photos and publications to help preserve species but new research suggests there could be more to be gained by sharing a rare find, rather than obscuring it, in certain circumstances.
Futuristic data storage
The development of high-density data storage devices requires the highest possible density of elements in an array made up of individual nanomagnets.
Making data matter
The advent of 3-D printing has made it possible to take imaging data and print it into physical representations, but the process of doing so has been prohibitively time-intensive and costly.
More Data News and Data Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Biology Of Sex
Original broadcast date: May 8, 2020. Many of us were taught biological sex is a question of female or male, XX or XY ... but it's far more complicated. This hour, TED speakers explore what determines our sex. Guests on the show include artist Emily Quinn, journalist Molly Webster, neuroscientist Lisa Mosconi, and structural biologist Karissa Sanbonmatsu.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#569 Facing Fear
What do you fear? I mean really fear? Well, ok, maybe right now that's tough. We're living in a new age and definition of fear. But what do we do about it? Eva Holland has faced her fears, including trauma and phobia. She lived to tell the tale and write a book: "Nerve: Adventures in the Science of Fear".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Wubi Effect
When we think of China today, we think of a technological superpower. From Huweai and 5G to TikTok and viral social media, China is stride for stride with the United States in the world of computing. However, China's technological renaissance almost didn't happen. And for one very basic reason: The Chinese language, with its 70,000 plus characters, couldn't fit on a keyboard.  Today, we tell the story of Professor Wang Yongmin, a hard headed computer programmer who solved this puzzle and laid the foundation for the China we know today. This episode was reported and produced by Simon Adler with reporting assistance from Yang Yang. Special thanks to Martin Howard. You can view his renowned collection of typewriters at: antiquetypewriters.com Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.