Why Scientific Rigor Matters and Ways to Improve It

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Symposium Abstract

There is increasing concern about the reliability of biomedical research, with several recent articles suggesting that up to 85% of research funding is unjustified, poorly executed, incorrectly analyzed, inadequately reported, influenced by bias, and unable to be repeated. There is a critical need for an increased understanding of these claims and available solutions. This session will begin by focusing on the response of the NIH to these reports. Dr. Kristine Willis will address how the claims of insufficient rigor are perceived by NIH and how grant applicants are expected to address this concern. Dr. Curt Sigmund, Chair of the APS Publications Committee, will provide an update on how journals are responding to this issue and how authors can obviate any concerns of rigor. He will also address the differences in lack of rigor vs misconduct. In the second half of the session, speakers who are actively working on novel solutions to reduce the impact of a lack of research rigor in the future will present. Dr. Brad Yoder will discuss how modifying mentoring paradigms for students and postdoctoral fellows can improve research rigor in the future. Dr. Tracey Weissgerber will discuss how to increase reproducibility through improved use of statistics and transparent reporting of research results. The symposium will conclude with a 20 minute Q&A session with the panel. All presenters will be asked to suggest ways that this issue can be addressed solutions not increase regulatory burden and will provide specific action items that will serve as the basis for creating a toolbox that can be referred to for issues regarding research rigor. This rigor toolbox will be made available to attendees as a handout.


  • The NIH Perspective on Enhancing Reproducibility and Transparency in Biomedical Research Kristine Willis — Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology, NIH
  • The Art of Reproducible Science: A New Course for Graduate Student Training Bradley K. Yoder — Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • The APS Publications Response to Scientific Rigor and Transparency: Where Are We Today, Where Are We Going Tomorrow Curt D. Sigmund — Pharmacology, University of Iowa
  • Data Visulaization as a Means of Increasing Transparency and Reproducibility in Scientific Research Tracey Weissgerber — The Mayo Clinic