Saturday, October 19, 2013

Scientific Research Replication: Critical but neglected

This has been a big problem in all areas of science, be it physical, biological, or social sciences.  I know it from first-hand experience and from studying it on my own.  Hopefully, it appears that there is increasing amount of attention paid to the failure of science scholars to conduct and publish replication studies.  As an example, here's an exerpt from a recent Economist article that details the problem:
A rule of thumb among biotechnology venture-capitalists is that half of published research cannot be replicated. Even that may be optimistic. Last year researchers at one biotech firm, Amgen, found they could reproduce just six of 53 “landmark” studies in cancer research. Earlier, a group at Bayer, a drug company, managed to repeat just a quarter of 67 similarly important papers. A leading computer scientist frets that three-quarters of papers in his subfield are bunk. In 2000-10 roughly 80,000 patients took part in clinical trials based on research that was later retracted because of mistakes or improprieties.
This is both an interesting, important topic and an interesting article.