Inquiry into reproducible science

Ella Rhodes reports.

The UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN) has responded to a government inquiry into reproducibility and research integrity. The UKRN, who are supported by the BPS as an affiliate stakeholder, submitted evidence to the inquiry from its steering group (chaired by Professor Marcus Munafò  at the University of Bristol), member universities, local networks of researchers and university staff, and external stakeholders.

The Science and Technology Committee launched its Inquiry on Reproducibility and Research Integrity in July last year (2021) and pointed to the risks that the reproducibility crisis, particularly in medical and social science research, posed to the reliability of evidence. It asked for evidence on the breadth of the crisis and areas of science where it is most prevalent, the causes, the roles of funders, institutions, groups and individual researchers, publishers, and governments in addressing this problem. Also considered was how the creation of a UKRI National Committee on Research Integrity could help.

In their written evidence to the committee the UKRN’s institutional leads pointed out a need for training and funding to embrace transparent research practices and incentives for individuals and institutions to adopt them. The authors also said that practising research transparency would be different depending on discipline, and that a one-size fits all approach would not work.

The UKRN’s 57 local networks suggested that all parts of the research ecosystem should be coordinated and innovative, and promote a more positive incentive culture within research. They suggested four key areas for change, ‘Coordinating a positive culture, coordinating a unified stance, coordinating the foundations for open and transparent research practice, and coordinating the routinisation of open and transparent research practice.’

The 37 organisations which form the network’s stakeholders and includes funders, publishers, learned societies and professional organisations, pointed to the role of organisations in refining incentives and rewards, promoting behaviours including open research practices, and exploring innovations in funding and publishing as well as a coordination of such efforts. ‘Efforts to improve research quality will require investment, in infrastructure, training, and research on research to ensure that innovative solutions are evidence-based, and potential unintended consequences are explored (and avoided).’

Munafò and his colleagues on the steering group suggested that a UK Committee on Research Integrity could help to coordinate attempts to make science more reproducible and reliable across the whole ecosystem. ‘We recommend continued and widening support for collaborative approaches to addressing reproducibility by funding initiatives that enable the sharing of resources and best practices across discipline and institutions.’

Browse and search submissions from other collectives and psychologists such as Dorothy Bishop, via tinyurl.com/fhd8e8c 

See also our collection on reproducibility, replication and open science.

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