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Irreproducibility in Life Science Research: A Pervasive Problem


Reproducibility is the foundation of life science research, yet far too often, the inability to reproduce experimental data has resulted in the invalidation of research breakthroughs, retraction of published papers, abrupt discontinuation of studies, and reduced trust in the research enterprise. Most alarming is that valuable time and resources are wasted by irreproducibility, and opportunities to enhance global health and find cures for disease are delayed or lost. Everyone is affected by irreproducibility, from bench scientists to patients. The global community can no longer afford the economic and intellectual drain that is caused by irreproducible research.

Why Standardization

Pervasive, systemic factors with the scientific community are contributing to research irreproducibility. While the causes of irreproducibility are multifactorial and complex, many of them can be traced to the absence of a unifying standards framework.
The Global Biological Standards Institute—a multidisciplinary, non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of life science (also known as biological) standards—commissioned FKH and Health Advances to interview almost 60 stakeholders across the life sciences to assess the quality of R&D methodologies, identify areas of concern and establish recommendations for change. The results of this Report are published in a white paper entitled, “The Case for Standards in Life Science Research: Seizing Opportunities at a Time of Critical Need.”

Conclusions from the Report

The whitepaper concludes that the adoption of life science standards will require:

  • Educational initiatives to raise stakeholder awareness of the purpose and benefits of biological standards and understanding of the standards development process
  • Opportunities and forums for stakeholders to identify areas in the life sciences where accelerated standards adoption could provide maximum benefit
  • Engagement of stakeholders with standards development organizations or material reference providers in the development of specific standards
  • Development of effective policies and practices within the life science research community to ensure the proactive development and periodic updating of biological standards

Read the Full Report