Behind Science Fraud, Chapter 9

Nature magazine reports today:

Irreproducible Biology Research Costs Put at $28 Billion Per Year

Scientists in the United States spend $28 billion each year on basic biomedical research that cannot be repeated successfully. That is the conclusion of a study published on 9 June in PLoS Biology1 that attempts to quantify the causes, and costs, of irreproducibility.

John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at Stanford University in California who studies scientific robustness, says that the analysis is sure to prompt discussion about the problem — but should be taken with a pinch of salt, given that its estimates carry great uncertainty. . .

Overall, the team found that poor materials made the largest contribution to reproducibility problems, at 36%, followed by study design at 28% and data analysis at 26%. The team estimates the overall rate of irreproducibility at 53%, but cautions that the true rate could be anywhere between 18% and 89%. That puts the potential economic cost of irreproducibility anywhere from $10 billion to $50 billion per year.

So why don’t researchers skip all this trouble and just publish in the Journal of Irreproducible Results in the first place?