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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

WashU: Three Steps to Reproducible Research and Improved Public Health

Practices that make research easier to reproduce can hasten scientific progress, increase public trust in public health evidence, and increase the positive impact of this evidence on human health, according to a new paper from public-health experts from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

Reproducing a study — or analyzing an existing data source to produce the same results — is an alternative when replication is not feasible. Research is reproducible when data are shared and either the statistical code is shared or when detailed, clear, and complete instructions for analysis are accessible.

“Three small steps for researchers could contribute to one giant leap for public health,” wrote lead author Dr. Jenine K. Harris, associate professor at the Brown School.

She suggests that researchers:

“Along with researchers, journals and funders can contribute to the culture shift by rewarding or requiring the use of reproducible research practices, such as shared data and code, as a condition for publishing or funding,” she added.

The authors focused on quantitative research, but noted that additional work is needed to develop strategies for reproducible qualitative research as well.

The paper was published Jan. 18 in Public Health Reports.

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[Photo: Dr. Jenine K. Harris]