Journal to combat ‘credibility crisis’ in biomedicine

Plos Biology launches new section looking at how experiments are run and incentive systems for scientists

January 8, 2016

A prominent journal has launched a new section devoted to analysing the quality of scientific research in response to what it called a “credibility crisis” in biomedicine.

Plos Biology says its new “meta-research” section will welcome articles that look at the “design, methods, reporting, verification, and evaluation of research”.

“It will also encompass research into the systems that evaluate and reward individual scientists and institutions,” the journal said in an editorial earlier this week.

The failure to reproduce results was a “significant problem” across biomedicine, the editorial argued.

It cited studies that claimed that more than half of preclinical research cannot be replicated, and that 85 per cent of research investment in biomedical sciences is wasted.

As a result, new drug discovery has slowed and successes found in animal experiments were “rarely” replicated in clinical trials, it said.

“There is an urgent need to address this credibility crisis and improve the standards of research practices,” it said.

The new meta-research section of the journal has been launched with two new studies.

The first found that in a random sample of biomedical articles since 2000, “the majority of studies did not share raw data, did not provide full protocols, overwhelmingly reported novel findings rather than replications, and did not mention anything about funding or conflicts of interest”.

“Disappointingly, there was little improvement over time, except for the reporting of conflicts of interest,” the editorial said.

A second study looked at the impact of removing “outlying” animals from trials, and found that it “dramatically increases the probability of false positives”. An analysis of 100 papers on cancer and strokes indicated that the majority of papers failed to properly report the loss of animals from experiments.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

University of Oxford students walking on campus

University of Oxford snatches top spot from Caltech in this year’s World University Rankings as Asia’s rise continues

Home secretary says government will support 'best' universities

Man handing microphone to audience member

Academic attainment of disadvantaged students can be improved if they can decide how they are assessed, study claims

Italy's gold medallist

New measures to ensure universities are ‘not penalised’ for taking poorer students also outlined for next stage of TEF

Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir meeting over coffee

Claims for genius require more than repeated assertion to make the case, says Martin Cohen