Reproducibility isn’t something that can be solved without considering the bigger research picture. So as part of efforts to improve the quality of research, we’ve collected tips and resources – relevant to each stage of the research process – from across the MRC community to help. Isabel Baker reports.
Methods are us
Good science needs good methods. Good methods ensure that health research and policy are built on the best possible evidence. Using robust, bullet-proof methods that are reliable and repeatable can also improve efficiency. Efficiency is important, as it’s not just taxpayers’ money at stake; valuable samples from humans and animals can often be used only once, and time donated by volunteers is precious.
A preprint is a scientific manuscript uploaded by authors to an open access, public server before formal peer review. With the rising popularity of preprint servers enabling fast and direct distribution of knowledge across the world, and plans underway to establish a ‘Central Service for Preprints’, Isabel Baker asked some converts across the MRC community why they’ve jumped on board.
“Preprint posting is the right thing to do for science and society. It enables us to share our results earlier, speeding up the pace of science. It also enables us to catch errors earlier, minimising the risk of alerting the world to our findings (through a high-impact publication) before the science is solid.
“Importantly, preprints ensure long-term, open access to our results for scientists and for the public. Preprints can be rapidly posted for free on arXiv and bioRxiv, enabling instant open access. We post every paper as a preprint in my lab, at the time of the first submission to a journal.”
Today the MRC and a group of partner organisations issued an update on what we have been doing to address of reproducibility and reliability of research since the publication of the report of our symposium on the issue last year. Dr Frances Rawle, our Head of Corporate Governance and Policy, talks about what we’ve done so far.
Reproducibility is everyone’s problem. If we can’t ensure that our results are reliable, then our research can’t improve human health.
Everyone involved in biomedical research, including funders, individual researchers, research institutes, universities, publishers and academies – must play a part in improving research practices.
We’ve worked across the sector to discover the main causes of irreproducible results and what we can do to improve the situation. Read more