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Surprising Science

Studying the Studies

Too many published studies make claims that cannot be satisfactorily reproduced or verified. A new service makes it easier for labs to double-check their results before publishing them.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What’s the Latest Development?

Every day, hundreds of articles begin with the phrase “According to a new study…” However, it appears that an alarming number of scientific studies make claims that cannot be reproduced, rendering them suspect at best and dangerous at worst. Not only are erroneous studies a potential waste of taxpayers’ money, they are also a waste of time and money for companies who depend on the accuracy of these studies for their own product development. One major company, Bayer Healthcare, “reported that its scientists could not reproduce some 75 percent of published findings in cardiovascular disease, cancer and women’s health.” A Stanford University researcher, John Ioannidis, estimates that out of 1.5 million studies published in a given year, about 5 percent – 75,000 – contain inaccurate results.

What’s the Big Idea?

The California-based company Science Initiative has announced a program designed to improve the accuracy and trustworthiness of these studies by matching researchers at the original lab site with workers at a second lab that can verify their findings. “The original lab would pay the second for its work…[and] the two labs would jointly write a paper” describing the results. While it may not be obvious why a lab would pay to have its work checked and possibly discredited, the company’s co-founder Elizabeth Iorns believes that the expense would increase a lab’s reputation and make it more attractive to funders as well as to companies looking to use the lab’s data.


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