Skip to main content

Reproducibility of Research inquiry launched

23 July 2021

With every £1 spent on research and development estimated to deliver £7 in economic value, the role of research and innovation will prove invaluable in aiding the UK's economic recovery. 

However, the integrity of research, especially medical and social science research, is at risk from what is known as the ‘reproducibility crisis’ (i.e. it being very difficult or impossible to replicate a scientific study). Today, the Science and Technology Committee launch a new inquiry, scrutinising the causes of the phenomenon, and investigating solutions for reliable research practice.

First identified in 2005, the issue of reproducibility has been flagged in a number of studies which have demonstrated the prevalence of irreproducible data. UKRI is in the process of establishing a national research integrity committee- as recommended by our predecessor Committee. However, the specific issue of reproducible research has thus far been overlooked.

Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, said:

"Science shouldn’t be private. When ideas are tested against data it is important that other researchers can scrutinise the method, challenge the conclusions, and seek to replicate the research.

“To allow that essential challenge requires access to data and the ability to reproduce and verify research findings. This inquiry will seek to get to the bottom of whether there is a ‘reproducibility crisis’ in science and social science research and to establish what is required to create and maintain an open, contestable and rigorous research environment.”

The Committee is therefore seeking written submissions by Thursday 30 September addressing any or all of the following topics:

1. The breadth of the reproducibility crisis and what research areas it is most prevalent in;

2. The issues in academia that have led to the reproducibility crisis, i.e. its causes;

3. The role of the following in addressing the reproducibility crisis:

- research funders, including public funding bodies;

- research institutions and groups;

- individual researchers;

- publishers; and

- Governments and the need for a unilateral response / action.

4. What policies or schemes could have a positive impact on academia’s approach to reproducible research; and

5. How establishing a national committee on research integrity under UKRI could impact the reproducibility crisis.

The Committee values diversity and seeks to ensure this where possible. The Committee encourages members of underrepresented groups to submit written evidence.

Further information

Image: Creative Commons