Statistical Challenges in Assessing and Fostering the Reproducibility of Scientific Results: Summary of a Workshop by Board on Mathematical Sciences and Their Applications, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, National Academies of Sciences Engineering (Paperback, 2016)
Questions about the reproducibility of scientific research have been raised in numerous settings and have gained visibility through several high-profile journal and popular press articles. Quantitative issues contributing to reproducibility challenges have been considered (including improper data measurement and analysis, inadequate statistical expertise, and incomplete data, among others), but there is clear consensus on how best to approach or to minimize these problems. A lack of reproducibility of scientific results has created some distrust in scientific findings among the general public, scientists, funding agencies, and industries. While studies fail for a variety of reasons, many factors contribute to the lack of perfect reproducibility, including insufficient training in experimental design, misaligned incentives for publication and the implications for university tenure, intentional manipulation, poor data management and analysis, and inadequate instances of statistical inference. The workshop summarized in this report was designed t to address the social and experimental challenges but instead to focus on the latter issues of improper data management and analysis, inadequate statistical expertise, incomplete data, and difficulties applying sound statistic inference to the available data. Many efforts have emerged over recent years to draw attention to and improve reproducibility of scientific work. This report uniquely focuses on the statistical perspective of three issues: the extent of reproducibility, the causes of reproducibility failures, and the potential remedies for these failures.
Board on Mathematical Sciences and Their Applications, Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, National Academies of Sciences Engineering