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Producing Reproducibility

The open source journal eLife, the Center for Open Science, and Science Exchange have launched a project that will take a closer look at some of the biggest cancer research experiments published recently.

Through The Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology, the partners will seek to replicate the key findings from 50 high-profile preclinical cancer studies published between 2010 and 2012. They chose the articles based on their citation rates and on how much attention they've gotten online.

The initiative will tackle what appears to be a growing problem in biomedical research, one that has caught the attention of NIH leadership; that the "system for ensuring reproducibility is failing," as Francis Collins has said.

"We need an objective way to evaluate reproducibility," eLife's Editor-in-Chief Randy Schekman says. "This project is a valuable opportunity to generate a high-quality dataset to address questions about reproducibility constructively and rigorously."

The replication studies will be carried out in two phases. First, a registered report will be produced that lays out how the replication study will be performed, and the second part is the study itself, which must be conducted through the Science Exchange's la network.

When the replication study is done, all the methods and data will be made available via the Open Science Framework for the research community to examine, critique, or even extend.

"This project serves as a model to understand reproducibility challenges shared across scientific disciplines and to encourage openness in research practices," says Timothy Errington, project manager for the Center for Open Science.