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Exact replication: Foundation of science or game of chance?

08:00 EDT 9th April 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Exact replication: Foundation of science or game of chance?"

The need for replication of initial results has been rediscovered only recently in many fields of research. In preclinical biomedical research, it is common practice to conduct exact replications with the same sample sizes as those used in the initial experiments. Such replication attempts, however, have lower probability of replication than is generally appreciated. Indeed, in the common scenario of an effect just reaching statistical significance, the statistical power of the replication experiment assuming the same effect size is approximately 50%-in essence, a coin toss. Accordingly, we use the provocative analogy of "replicating" a neuroprotective drug animal study with a coin flip to highlight the need for larger sample sizes in replication experiments. Additionally, we provide detailed background for the probability of obtaining a significant p value in a replication experiment and discuss the variability of p values as well as pitfalls of simple binary significance testing in both initial preclinical experiments and replication studies with small sample sizes. We conclude that power analysis for determining the sample size for a replication study is obligatory within the currently dominant hypothesis testing framework. Moreover, publications should include effect size point estimates and corresponding measures of precision, e.g., confidence intervals, to allow readers to assess the magnitude and direction of reported effects and to potentially combine the results of initial and replication study later through Bayesian or meta-analytic approaches.

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This article was published in the following journal.

Name: PLoS biology
ISSN: 1545-7885
Pages: e3000188

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An activity distinguished primarily by an element of risk in trying to obtain a desired goal, e.g., playing a game of chance for money.

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A game in which a round inflated ball is advanced by kicking or propelling with any part of the body except the hands or arms. The object of the game is to place the ball in opposite goals.

Literary works whose subject matter is science or about the profession of science and related areas.

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