Industry is more alarmed about reproducibility than academia

Heidelberg, Germany.

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Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.

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BioCurate, Melbourne, Australia.

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The reproducibility crisis in biomedical science seems to have alarmed industry more than the academic community (see C. G. Begley and L. M. Ellis Nature 483, 531–533; 2012). In our view, this is because they have different yardsticks for success in research.

Despite the advent of important new therapeutics, the number of innovative treatments reaching the patient is disappointingly low. To help rectify this, industry is investing in drug-discovery alliances with peers and academic groups, and in precision medicine. It sees high standards of research quality as the route to the most promising drug candidates and to maximum return on investment.

By contrast, academic scientists may be reluctant to devote extra time and effort to confirming research results in case they fail. That would put paid to publication in high-impact journals, damage career opportunities and curtail further funding. Evidence of questionable practices such as selective publishing and cherry-picking of data indicates that rigour is not always a high priority.

Paradoxically, the impact of high standards on research objectives is different in industry and in academia. If ignored, this paradox could endanger future collaborations between scientists in the private and public sectors.

Nature 563, 626 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-07549-w

Competing Financial Interests

Anton Bespalov is co-founder and managing partner at the Partnership for Assessment and Accreditation of Scientific Practics and co-founder, managing director and chief scientific officer at Exciva. C. Glenn Begley is an employee at BioCurate, a shareholder in Amgen, Akriviea and Tetralogic and an ad hoc consultant to biotech companies.

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