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Principles to Consider

Scientific leaders and representatives from funding agencies and more than 30 journals have hammered out a set of guidelines for reporting preclinical research at a meeting put together by the US National Institutes of Health, Nature, and Science.

In a joint editorial, Nature and Science say that "[r]eproducibility, rigor, transparency, and independent verification are cornerstones of the scientific method," adding that transparency and rigor can often draw attention to reproducibility issues.

At the meeting, the attendees discussed this issue of reproducibility and developed a set of principles to assist in "the interpretation and repetition of experiments as they have been conducted in the published study," as the preamble to the guidelines says.

Overall, the principles underscore the importance of stringent statistical analysis, clear methods reporting — including the use of community-based standards like ARRIVE — and the sharing of data and other important materials. Additionally, the guidelines say that if a journal publishes a paper, it shoulders the responsibility of considering papers that refute the original article's findings.

"As partners to the research enterprise in the communication and dissemination of research results, journals want to do their part to raise the standards for the benefit of all scientists and the benefit of society," the joint editorial says. "The hope is that that these guidelines will not be viewed as onerous, but as part of the quality control that justifies the public trust in science."

In addition to Science and Nature, these principles have been endorsed by Cell, PLOS, Nucleic Acids Research, and others.