Reproducibility starts with “n”.

Our capacity to prevent, diagnose, treat, and cure disease depends upon the existence of a robust bank of scientific knowledge. To advance this essential resource, the National Institutes of Health invests somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 billion annually into research. However, serious concerns about a lack of reproducibility of published scientific findings have been voiced in recent years by drug companies and the public, and now the issue has even risen to the level of the White House. On 29 July 2014, the White House Science and Technology Policy Office and the National Economic Council posted a request for comment on an upcoming update to the Strategy for American Innovation. One of the items reads: “Given recent evidence of the irreproducibility of a surprising number of published scientific findings, how can the Federal Government leverage its role as a significant funder of scientific research to most effectively address the problem?” The concern of irreproducibility of scientific literature goes way beyond the recent Nature STAP papers debacle (in which scientists claimed they could generate pluripotent stem cells by treating skin cells with acid in a process called stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluri­potency or STAP). And it seems that none of the science fields are immune to this problem; social sciences, psychological sciences, ecological sciences, computer sciences and life sciences alike are facing the same problem of lack of reproducibility. With...

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