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PLoS Biol. 2018 Nov 20;16(11):e2006930. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2006930. eCollection 2018 Nov.

Reproducible research practices, transparency, and open access data in the biomedical literature, 2015-2017.

Author information

1
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.
2
Collaboration for Research Integrity and Transparency, Yale School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.
3
SciTech Strategies, Inc., Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States of America.
4
Stanford Prevention Research Center, Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California, United States of America.
5
Department of Health Research and Policy, Stanford University, Stanford, California, United States of America.
6
Department of Biomedical Data Science, Stanford University, Stanford, California, United States of America.
7
Department of Statistics, Stanford University, Stanford, California, United States of America.
8
Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford, Stanford University, Stanford, California, United States of America.

Abstract

Currently, there is a growing interest in ensuring the transparency and reproducibility of the published scientific literature. According to a previous evaluation of 441 biomedical journals articles published in 2000-2014, the biomedical literature largely lacked transparency in important dimensions. Here, we surveyed a random sample of 149 biomedical articles published between 2015 and 2017 and determined the proportion reporting sources of public and/or private funding and conflicts of interests, sharing protocols and raw data, and undergoing rigorous independent replication and reproducibility checks. We also investigated what can be learned about reproducibility and transparency indicators from open access data provided on PubMed. The majority of the 149 studies disclosed some information regarding funding (103, 69.1% [95% confidence interval, 61.0% to 76.3%]) or conflicts of interest (97, 65.1% [56.8% to 72.6%]). Among the 104 articles with empirical data in which protocols or data sharing would be pertinent, 19 (18.3% [11.6% to 27.3%]) discussed publicly available data; only one (1.0% [0.1% to 6.0%]) included a link to a full study protocol. Among the 97 articles in which replication in studies with different data would be pertinent, there were five replication efforts (5.2% [1.9% to 12.2%]). Although clinical trial identification numbers and funding details were often provided on PubMed, only two of the articles without a full text article in PubMed Central that discussed publicly available data at the full text level also contained information related to data sharing on PubMed; none had a conflicts of interest statement on PubMed. Our evaluation suggests that although there have been improvements over the last few years in certain key indicators of reproducibility and transparency, opportunities exist to improve reproducible research practices across the biomedical literature and to make features related to reproducibility more readily visible in PubMed.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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