Reproducible Research Practices and Transparency across the Biomedical Literature
Shareen A. Iqbal , Joshua D. Wallach , Muin J. Khoury, Sheri D. Schully, John P. A. Ioannidis
Published: January 4, 2016DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002333
There is a growing movement to encourage reproducibility and transparency practices in the scientific community, including public access to raw data and protocols, the conduct of replication studies, systematic integration of evidence in systematic reviews, and the documentation of funding and potential conflicts of interest. In this survey, we assessed the current status of reproducibility and transparency addressing these indicators in a random sample of 441 biomedical journal articles published in 2000–2014. Only one study provided a full protocol and none made all raw data directly available. Replication studies were rare (n = 4), and only 16 studies had their data included in a subsequent systematic review or meta-analysis. The majority of studies did not mention anything about funding or conflicts of interest. The percentage of articles with no statement of conflict decreased substantially between 2000 and 2014 (94.4% in 2000 to 34.6% in 2014); the percentage of articles reporting statements of conflicts (0% in 2000, 15.4% in 2014) or no conflicts (5.6% in 2000, 50.0% in 2014) increased. Articles published in journals in the clinical medicine category versus other fields were almost twice as likely to not include any information on funding and to have private funding. This study provides baseline data to compare future progress in improving these indicators in the scientific literature.
There is increasing interest in the scientific community about whether published research is transparent and reproducible. Lack of replication and non-transparency decreases the value of research. Several biomedical journals have started to encourage or require authors to submit detailed protocols, full datasets, and disclose information on funding and potential conflicts of interest. In this study, we investigate the reproducibility and transparency practices across the full spectrum of published biomedical literature from 2000–2014. We identify an ongoing lack of access to full datasets and detailed protocols for both clinical and non-clinical biomedical investigation. We also map the availability of information on funding and conflicts of interest in this literature. The results from this study provide baseline data to compare future progress in improving these indicators in the scientific literature. We believe that this information may be essential to sensitize stakeholders in science about the need for improving reproducibility and transparency practices.
Citation: Iqbal SA, Wallach JD, Khoury MJ, Schully SD, Ioannidis JPA (2016) Reproducible Research Practices and Transparency across the Biomedical Literature. PLoS Biol 14(1): e1002333. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1002333
Academic Editor: David L. Vaux, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, AUSTRALIA
Received: October 13, 2015; Accepted: November 19, 2015; Published: January 4, 2016
This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication
Data Availability: All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files. All authors had full access to all of the data (including statistical reports and tables) in the study and can take responsibility for the integrity of the data and accuracy of the data analysis.
Funding: The authors received no specific funding for this work. The Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS) is supported by a grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.
Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
Abbreviations: ESI, Essential Science Indicators; JCR, Journal Citation Reports; NIH, National Institutes of Health; NSF, National Science Foundation; PMCID, PubMed Central reference number; PMID, PubMed Identification
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