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Old 16 June 2015, 12:42 AM
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A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
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D'oh! Study claims $28 billion a year spent on irreproducible biomedical research

An eye-popping $28 billion is spent in the United States each year on preclinical research that can’t be reproduced by other researchers. That’s the conclusion of a provocative analysis published today in part by economists who based it on past studies of error rates in biomedical studies.

http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2...dical-research
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Old 16 June 2015, 01:00 AM
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This is incredibly stupid if it's meant as a complaint. If we knew ahead of time which ones would be reproducible then there wouldn't be any need for research. 28 billion sounds like a lot but it's a relatively part of the total spent. Anyone who's done any kind of research at all knows that lots and lots of results won't be reproduced - or even published.
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Old 16 June 2015, 01:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
This is incredibly stupid if it's meant as a complaint. If we knew ahead of time which ones would be reproducible then there wouldn't be any need for research.
But in their paper they're talking about experiments that can't be reproduced because of design flaws.

Quote:
For this paper, we adopt an inclusive definition of irreproducibility that encompasses the existence and propagation of one or more errors, flaws, inadequacies, or omissions (collectively referred to as errors) that prevent replication of results. Clearly, perfect reproducibility across all preclinical research is neither possible nor desirable. Attempting to achieve total reproducibility would dramatically increase the cost of such studies and radically curb their volume. Our assumption that current irreproducibility rates exceed a theoretically (and perhaps indeterminable) optimal level is based on the tremendous gap between the conventional 5% false positive rate (i.e., statistical significance level of 0.05) and the estimates reported below and elsewhere (see S1 Text and Fig 1).
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28 billion sounds like a lot but it's a relatively part of the total spent.
Well, according to them, it's half.
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Old 16 June 2015, 02:34 AM
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ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
 
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Thank you, Steve. That is an important distinction that I missed.

ETA - Another thing that bothers me that even though they make it clear that they don't mean to imply such research is useless, that's the impression that will be given from this kind of headline. As the last paragraph in the article says:
Quote:
That’s partly because being unable to replicate a specific experiment is not the same as failing to reproduce that finding under different conditions; that outcome is more common but doesn’t mean the original finding was wrong. “To suggest that 50% of research dollars are being wasted is ridiculous and unhelpful,” Fang says.

Last edited by ganzfeld; 16 June 2015 at 02:51 AM.
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