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. 2015 Jun 9;13(6):e1002165.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002165. eCollection 2015 Jun.

The Economics of Reproducibility in Preclinical Research

Free PMC article

The Economics of Reproducibility in Preclinical Research

Leonard P Freedman et al. PLoS Biol. .
Free PMC article

Erratum in


Low reproducibility rates within life science research undermine cumulative knowledge production and contribute to both delays and costs of therapeutic drug development. An analysis of past studies indicates that the cumulative (total) prevalence of irreproducible preclinical research exceeds 50%, resulting in approximately US$28,000,000,000 (US$28B)/year spent on preclinical research that is not reproducible-in the United States alone. We outline a framework for solutions and a plan for long-term improvements in reproducibility rates that will help to accelerate the discovery of life-saving therapies and cures.

Conflict of interest statement

Dr. Simcoe currently works as a Senior Economist for the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). The CEA disclaims responsibility for any of the views expressed herein and these views do not necessarily represent the views of the CEA or the United States.


Fig 1
Fig 1. Studies reporting the prevalence of irreproducibility.
Source: Begley and Ellis [6], Prinz et al. [7], Vasilevsky [8], Hartshorne and Schachner [5], and Glasziou et al. [9].
Fig 2
Fig 2. Estimated US preclinical research spend and categories of errors that contribute to irreproducibility.
Note that the percentage value of error for each category is the midpoint of the high and low prevalence estimates for that category divided (weighted) by the sum of all midpoint error rates (see S1 Dataset). Source: Chakma et al. [18] and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) [19].

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The authors received no specific funding for this work.