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Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Reproducibility Not Required

Reason's Ronald Bailey asks,  Can most cancer research be trusted

Here's a telling quote from his article (emphasis mine):

"We went through the paper line by line, figure by figure," said Begley to Reuters. "I explained that we re-did their experiment 50 times and never got their result. He said they'd done it six times and got this result once, but put it in the paper because it made the best story. It's very disillusioning." Sadly, Begley explains in an email that they cannot reveal which studies are flawed due to the insistence by many researchers on confidentiality agreements before they would work with the Amgen scientists. So much for transparency. 

And there's this:

Over 10 years, Amgen researchers could reproduce the results from only six out of 53 landmark papers.

And this (emphasis mine, again):

So what is going wrong? Neither study suggests that the main problem is fraud. Instead they conclude that the scramble for funding and fame (which are inextricably linked) has resulted in increasingly lax standards for reporting research results.

It's a fantastic article, so do read the whole thing when you have a few free moments -- if you're into this sort of thing that is.

If you're wondering whether the studies and research performed by our favourite hate groups can be similarly classified, the answer is a resounding "YES!"  Tip: Scroll down to the very end and read the "Safeguarding the Future" bit.