The Problem of Irreproducible Bioscience Research

Perspect Biol Med. 2022;65(3):373-395. doi: 10.1353/pbm.2022.0032.


Over recent decades, progress in bioscience research has been remarkable, but alongside the many transformative advances is a growing concern that a surprisingly high fraction of published research cannot be reproduced by the scientific community. Though experimental and interpretive errors are unavoidable features of the scientific process, recent evidence suggests that irreproducibility is a serious issue requiring analysis, understanding, and remediation. This article reviews the meaning of research reproducibility, examines ongoing efforts to estimate its prevalence, and considers the factors that contribute to it. Two recent case studies illustrate the disparate responses that researchers may take when facing serious claims that a high-profile research finding is irreproducible and may be false. Finally, the article examines potential interventions to counter the current level of irreproducibility, aimed at increasing the efficiency and impact of society's substantial and critically important investment in bioscience research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results*