Texas Tech University
Scholarly Messenger
Tools for Responsible Research
By Alice Young

In a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article with the provocative title “Amid A Sea of False Findings, the NIH Tries Reform," NIH Director Francis Collins is quoted as saying, "We can’t afford to waste resources and produce non-reproducible conclusions if there’s a better way.

For many of the problems, there seems to be a better way and NIH is posting resources that can help faculty and trainees in a wide range of disciplines. Here are some current examples with links:
  1. Workshops that focus on promise and pitfalls of advanced technologies – with a wide range of experts talking about how they are working through the nuances and learning to use new technologies. The ones I’ve watched offer the kinds of insights you get when you talk to people in the lab or at meetings – the insights you can’t get by reading a paper or users’ manual.
    1. Modern Technologies in Cell Biology: Potentials and Pitfalls (24 Nov 2014)
      1. i.High resolution imaging (PALM, FPALM, STORM, CLEM)
      2. Cell-based FRET
      3. FACS
      4. Fluorescence imaging & immunoblotting
      5. Cell-based models
      6. Data integrity & reproducibility
    2. Reproducibility of Data Collection and Analysis: Modern Technologies in Structural Biology: Potentials and Pitfalls (13 Mar 2015)
      1. Crystallography
      2. Cryo-EM
      3. NMR
      4. Mass Spectroscopy
  2. A Clearinghouse for Training Modules to Enhance Data Reproducibility has 4 modules to stimulate conversations about how we design and analyze experiments. Each module has a short video that captures a problem that might arise during an experiment and a series of discussion points and questions designed to stimulate conversation or debate.
  3. Editorials and articles
    1. Collins & Tabak 2014 NIH plans to enhance reproducibility. Nature 505_612-3.
    2. NIH Principles and Guidelines for Reporting Preclinical Research – now endorsed by >75 journals and societies. Related commentaries appeared in Nature and Science.
    3. Landis et al. 2012 A call for transparent reporting to optimize the predictive value of preclinical research. Nature 490:187-91. (also http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v490/n7419/full/nature11556.html)
    4. Lorsch, Collins, Lippincott-Schwartz 2014 Fixing problems with cell lines. Science 346:1452-3.
    5. Not from NIH, but on point: Halsey et al. 2015 The fickle P value generates irreproducible results. Nature Methods 12:179-85
    6. Editorials from the individual institutes. Two examples:
      1. NIAMS: Enhancing Research Reproducibility
      2. NIMH: Enhancing the Reliability of NIMH-Supported Research through Rigorous Study Design and Reporting
    7. Training and career resources for postdocs & early career scientists: http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Training/Pages/TrainingCareerDevelopmentResources.aspx
Alice Young is Associate Vice President for Research and Responsible Research in the Office of the Vice President for Research.