Advancing public health depends on science being empirical, transparent, and rigorous. As yet another step towards fostering rigorous science, we have revamped the Rigor and Reproducibility webpage to highlight and include more resources you might find helpful. Since sketching out our plan last summer with the Advisory Council to the NIH Director, the webpage now reflects policy updates and explores new resources, all in a simple and easy to read manner.
Over two years ago, NIH rolled out a policy to enhance reproducibility of its supported research through rigor and transparency. Applicants and reviewers were required to devote more attention to four areas: the rigor of the prior research (scientific premise), the rigor of the proposed research (scientific rigor), consideration of biological variables including sex, and the authentication of key biological and/or chemical resources.
When the 21st Century Cures Act was passed later that same year, we were required, amongst other things, to assemble a working group of the Advisory Council to the NIH Director (ACD). These experts were charged with recommending ways to further enhance reproducibility of the research we fund, while being informed by the current policy.
Continuing Steps to Ensuring Credibility of NIH Research: Selecting Journals with Credible Practices
The scientific community is paying increasing attention to the quality practices of journals and publishers. NIH recently released a Guide notice (NOT-OD-18-011) to encourage authors to publish in journals that do not undermine the credibility, impact, and accuracy of their research findings. This notice aims to raise awareness about practices like changing publication fees without notice, lacking transparency in publication procedures, misrepresenting editorial boards, and/or using suspicious peer review.
The fourth and final segment in our series on rigor and transparency in research grant and career development award applications focuses on authentication of key biological and/or chemical resources. Research performed with unreliable or misidentified resources can negate years of hard work and eliminate any chance for a study to be reproduced or expanded upon. For this reason, it is imperative that researchers regularly authenticate key resources used in their research. ….
In part three of our series on rigor and transparency in research grant and career development award applications, we focus on consideration of relevant biological variables. Updated instructions for the Approach section of the Research Strategy ask the applicant to: ….
In part two of our series on rigor and transparency in research grant and career development award applications, we focus on scientific rigor, the strict application of the scientific method to ensure robust and unbiased experimental design, methodology, analysis, interpretation, and reporting of results. …..
The NIH recently implemented updates to research grant and career development award applications aimed at enhancing reproducibility through rigor and transparency with a focus on four areas: scientific premise, rigorous experimental design, consideration of relevant biological variables, and authentication of key biological and/or chemical resources. This post is the first in a series addressing each of these four areas, starting with scientific premise. ….
As NIH moves ahead with implementing measures to enhance rigor, transparency and reproducibility in NIH-supported research, I’d like to give a brief update on these efforts, and highlight some important timeline changes for implementation in applications for institutional training grants (T), institutional career development awards (K12), and individual fellowships (F). ….
In 2014, NIH announced plans for policy changes to ensure that NIH-supported investigators consider relevant measures, including sex as a biological variable (SABV), in preclinical research. NIH solicited feedback through a request for information, and we invited the research community to participate in workshops and resource development. These activities led to new guidelines for addressing SABV as an aspect of rigor and reproducibility in NIH research project grant applications and mentored career development award applications due January 25, 2016, and beyond. As you prepare applications and think about addressing the new instructions we wanted to offer some reminders about the policy’s origin, and about the application and review information. In particular, we wanted to point out what including SABV does not mean. ….
Scientists have long considered the research process to be self-correcting; we trust that, even if scientists may sometimes make errors in the lab, those errors will eventually be discovered and corrected as others try to substantiate and extend original research findings. However, as stated in a commentary by NIH Director Francis Collins and NIH Deputy Director Larry Tabak, “A growing chorus of concern, from scientists and laypeople, contends that the complex system for ensuring the reproducibility of biomedical research is failing and is in need of restructuring.”
There are examples that indicate that our processes have room for improvement. For example, a 2008 study ….