Fostering reproducibility in industry-academia research

B. R. Jasny, N. Wigginton, M. McNutt, T. Bubela, S. Buck, R. Cook-Deegan, T. Gardner, B. Hanson, C. Hustad, V. Kiermer, D. Lazer, A. Lupia, A. Manrai, L. McConnell, K. Noonan, E. Phimister, B. Simon, K. Strandburg, Z. Summers, D. Watts
Science
Vol. 357, Issue 6353, pp. 759-761 (2017)
August 25, 2017

Abstract

Many companies have  proprietary resources and/or data that are indispensable for research, and  academics provide the creative fuel for much early-stage research that leads  to industrial innovation. It is essential to the health of the research  enterprise that collaborations between industrial and university researchers  flourish. This system of collaboration is under strain. Financial motivations  driving product development have led to concerns that industry-sponsored  research comes at the expense of transparency (1). Yet many industry  researchers distrust quality control in academia (2) and question whether  academics value reproducibility as much as rapid publication. Cultural  differences between industry and academia can create or increase difficulties  in reproducing research findings. We discuss key aspects of this problem that  industry-academia collaborations must address and for which other  stakeholders, from funding agencies to journals, can provide leadership and  support. Here we are not talking about irreproducibility caused by  fundamental gaps in knowledge, which are intrinsic to the nature of  scientific research, but situations in which incomplete communication and  sharing of techniques, data, or materials interferes with independent validation  or future investigations. Irreproducibility has serious economic  consequences. Representatives of venture firms and industries such as  biopharma argue that they must replicate findings from academic research  before investing. For preclinical research, this can involve, on average, two  to six researchers, 1 to 2 years, and $500,000 to $2,000,000 per project (2).  For academic scientists, an inability to trust research findings means an  erosion of confidence from the scientific community, decision-makers, and the  general public, as well as the waste of scarce resources.

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