Reproducibility matters…


… and it matters in more areas than one might think. No matter which industry you work in, loss of trust from not being able to deliver reproducible results is one of the worst things that can happen. As Warren Buffett has said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

In science, the buzz around the reproducibility topic has been growing for some time now. A 2010 article in The New Yorker called “The Truth Wears Off” addressed the concern of which results to believe when so-called validated findings could not be proven or replicated and led to retraction of scientific publications. (1)

And in 2013, Vasilevsky et al. showed that around half of the scientific resources used in published articles were unidentifiable. The authors stressed the need to increase accessibility of the material resource information to aid in obtaining reproducible results. (2) They also provided guidelines for reporting research resources, for use by reviewers, authors and publishers to increase transparency and reproducibility. (3)

In 2016, Monya Baker’s survey was published in Nature, lifting the lid on reproducibility in research. Of the 1,576 researchers who participated in the brief online questionnaire, more than 70% have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments. Plus, over half have failed to reproduce their own experiments. (4)

On this basis we developed two infographics about irreproducibility, one focusing on nucleic acid isolation and the other on PCR-based assays. We also created 5 key RNA infographics, each focusing on a different step in the gene expression analysis workflow, to help you make the right decisions during your RNA research so you can obtain reproducible results.

Step 1: RNA by the numbers – looks at the RNA distribution within the mammalian cell, the RNA sizes and average yields of total RNA from various sources

Step 2: The DO’s and DON’Ts of working with RNA – includes how to handle, store and stabilize your RNA

Step 3: Describes how to best disrupt and homogenize various starting materials to ensure successful RNA isolation

Step 4: Provides you with special considerations for isolating RNA from different sample sources

Step 5: Shows you tools and methods for RNA quantification and analysis

Register here and get all 5 infographics for free!

  1. 1. Lehrer, J. The truth wears off – is there something wrong with the scientific method? The New Yorker, Annals of Science 13 December 2010 Link
  2. 2. Vasilevsky, N. A. et al. (2013) On the reproducibility of science: unique identification of research resources in the biomedical literature. PeerJ 1:e148 Link
  3. 3. Vasilevsky, N. A. et al. (2013) Recommended reporting guidelines for life science resources. FORCE11 Link
  4. 4. Baker, M. (2016) 1,500 scientists lift the lid on reproducibility. Nature 533, 452–454 Link
Kjell Kirschbaum

Kjell Kirschbaum, M.Sc., is a Global Market Manager based in QIAGEN’s Venlo office, the Netherlands. He trained as a bioveterinary scientist at the University of Utrecht and has hands-on experience in nucleic acid and protein purification, cell culture, PCR and qPCR technology. Kjell joined QIAGEN in 2011 as a CRM specialist, regularly interacting with customers about their day-to-day experimental needs and offering relevant solutions. Currently, he is involved in managing global projects for sample preparation and automation technologies.

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