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
The MRC and a group of partner organisations have today published a report and joint statement about the reproducibility and reliability of research, and what can be done to improve them. Here, Jim Smith, MRC Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Strategy, thinks about how discussions of reproducibility offer us the opportunity to improve the way science is done.
From basic discovery science to clinical studies, medical research works. When a new drug saves or extends lives, a new screen permits early detection of disease, or we find a new use for an old treatment, we can be confident in the long research journey that got us to that point.
But things aren’t perfect. For some years there have been rumblings in the scientific community and beyond that all is not well. In 2005, John Ioannidis published a paper in PLoS Medicine  provocatively titled Why most published research findings are false. In it he argued that most study designs will lead to conclusions that are more likely to be false than true.
And sure enough, a report  by the Open Science Foundation, published in Science this year, described the replication of 100 papers in psychological research journals: 97 of the original studies reported significant results, but this was true of only 36 of the replications.