Irreproducibility in Preclinical Biomedical Research: Perceptions, Uncertainties, and Knowledge Gaps

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2016 Apr;37(4):290-302. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2016 Jan 6.


Concerns regarding the reliability of biomedical research outcomes were precipitated by two independent reports from the pharmaceutical industry that documented a lack of reproducibility in preclinical research in the areas of oncology, endocrinology, and hematology. Given their potential impact on public health, these concerns have been extensively covered in the media. Assessing the magnitude and scope of irreproducibility is limited by the anecdotal nature of the initial reports and a lack of quantitative data on specific failures to reproduce published research. Nevertheless, remediation activities have focused on needed enhancements in transparency and consistency in the reporting of experimental methodologies and results. While such initiatives can effectively bridge knowledge gaps and facilitate best practices across established and emerging research disciplines and therapeutic areas, concerns remain on how these improve on the historical process of independent replication in validating research findings and their potential to inhibit scientific innovation.

Keywords: replication; reproducibility.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Biomedical Research / standards*
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Knowledge*
  • Perception*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Uncertainty*