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Making sense of replications

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      Abstract

      The first results from the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology suggest that there is scope for improving reproducibility in pre-clinical cancer research.

      DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.23383.001

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      Most cited references 12

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      Power failure: why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience.

      A study with low statistical power has a reduced chance of detecting a true effect, but it is less well appreciated that low power also reduces the likelihood that a statistically significant result reflects a true effect. Here, we show that the average statistical power of studies in the neurosciences is very low. The consequences of this include overestimates of effect size and low reproducibility of results. There are also ethical dimensions to this problem, as unreliable research is inefficient and wasteful. Improving reproducibility in neuroscience is a key priority and requires attention to well-established but often ignored methodological principles.
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        False-positive psychology: undisclosed flexibility in data collection and analysis allows presenting anything as significant.

        In this article, we accomplish two things. First, we show that despite empirical psychologists' nominal endorsement of a low rate of false-positive findings (≤ .05), flexibility in data collection, analysis, and reporting dramatically increases actual false-positive rates. In many cases, a researcher is more likely to falsely find evidence that an effect exists than to correctly find evidence that it does not. We present computer simulations and a pair of actual experiments that demonstrate how unacceptably easy it is to accumulate (and report) statistically significant evidence for a false hypothesis. Second, we suggest a simple, low-cost, and straightforwardly effective disclosure-based solution to this problem. The solution involves six concrete requirements for authors and four guidelines for reviewers, all of which impose a minimal burden on the publication process.
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          PSYCHOLOGY. Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science.

          Reproducibility is a defining feature of science, but the extent to which it characterizes current research is unknown. We conducted replications of 100 experimental and correlational studies published in three psychology journals using high-powered designs and original materials when available. Replication effects were half the magnitude of original effects, representing a substantial decline. Ninety-seven percent of original studies had statistically significant results. Thirty-six percent of replications had statistically significant results; 47% of original effect sizes were in the 95% confidence interval of the replication effect size; 39% of effects were subjectively rated to have replicated the original result; and if no bias in original results is assumed, combining original and replication results left 68% with statistically significant effects. Correlational tests suggest that replication success was better predicted by the strength of original evidence than by characteristics of the original and replication teams.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Center for Open Science , Charlottesville, United States
            [2 ]University of Virginia , Charlottesville, United States
            Author notes
            Journal
            eLife
            Elife
            eLife
            eLife
            eLife
            eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd
            2050-084X
            19 January 2017
            2017
            : 6
            28100398 5245957 23383 10.7554/eLife.23383
            © 2017, Nosek et al

            This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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            Funding
            The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
            Categories
            Cancer Biology
            Reproducibility in Cancer Biology
            Feature Article
            Custom metadata
            2.5
            The first results from the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology suggest that there is scope for improving reproducibility in pre-clinical cancer research.

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