Home Biology 8 Tricks to Enhance Your Analysis Reproducibility

8 Tricks to Enhance Your Analysis Reproducibility

8 Tricks to Enhance Your Analysis Reproducibility


Analysis reproducibility ensures that scientific outcomes are legitimate and dependable. Reproducibility is crucial so that you and different scientists can construct upon current analysis and advance scientific data. It additionally builds belief within the scientific technique. Correct labeling, controls, and publishing detailed methodology sections and unfavorable knowledge make your work extra reproducible and maximize its impression. Avoiding expired reagents, assigning work appropriately, and being aware of exterior elements akin to temper and fatigue additionally assist.

You’ve simply accomplished an experiment and obtained your outcomes. Congratulations! You’re one step nearer to increasing the data base and bringing us to a more in-depth approximation of the reality.

However how are you going to make certain that your findings are right?

Performing reproducible analysis is vital in science, and there are steps you may take at every stage of your analysis to assist be sure that it’s reproducible. This text discusses eight steps you may take to enhance your analysis reproducibility.

What Is Analysis Reproducibility?

Analysis reproducibility, repeatability, or different comparable phrases, relying on whom you ask, is the power in your findings to be obtained once more by your self and different researchers.

Why Does Reproducibility Matter?

Science is a toolbox for in search of goal reality, and a toolbox is rather more helpful if the instruments are dependable and the individual utilizing them is constant and is aware of what they’re doing. Analysis is equally extra useful whether it is reproducible, and for a number of causes:

  1. Lab mates come and go, and new folks will proceed your work.
  2. Different scientists will seemingly increase upon your work.
  3. Irreproducible findings stop or hinder our pursuit of reality.
  4. Reproducible outcomes additional our quest for reality.
  5. Reproducible findings construct belief in our toolbox.
  6. Making an attempt to copy findings identifies damaged or outdated instruments in our toolbox.

How Do I Carry out Reproducible Analysis?

At every stage of your analysis, from starting to finish, there are steps you may take to assist make sure the reproducibility of your findings.

1. Correctly Label All the things

Earlier than beginning your experiment, it’s essential to make sure that all of your reagents, supplies, and instruments are appropriately labeled. What constitutes correct labeling will range relying on what’s being labeled, however important data  usually added to labels consists of:

  • Full substance identify, chemical, reagent, buffer, and so on.
  • Key properties akin to focus, dilution, weight, quantity, and so on.
  • Dates on which the substance was acquired and first opened
  • Identify and/or initials of the one that ready or acquired it

In case your laboratory supplies are improperly labeled, your analysis could also be doomed to be irreproducible earlier than it even begins since you can’t supply or make an identical reagents and options. To return to the toolbox analogy, think about you’ve been informed to complete screwing in flathead screws. Should you by accident use a Phillips head screwdriver as a result of it was labeled as a flathead, you probably gained’t reproduce the standard of the work finished with the correct instrument.

It’s a lot simpler to inform aside a flathead and Phillips head screwdriver than to inform aside two scientific reagents that look an identical but differ in unobservable methods. If you wish to set the stage for reproducible analysis, correctly label every little thing.

2. Keep away from Expired Reagents or Carry out High quality Management Exams

You’ve ensured you’re utilizing the best instruments for the job, however are you aware how lengthy these instruments final? Do the chemical compounds in your lab degrade over time? Have you ever checked whether or not expired reagents change the outcomes you get?

Changing expired reagents with unexpired ones will massively enhance your analysis reproducibility. Producers typically make use of rigorous testing on their provides or reagents. These exams inform expiration dates and shouldn’t be ignored fully. Expiration dates are additionally knowledgeable by (amongst different issues) regulatory necessities and will not completely replicate the reagent’s stability or usability.

Shopping for new supplies additionally prices cash—cash that will not be there if a grant has but to be funded.

Whether or not because of this or others, you could wind up in a scenario the place you might be utilizing expired reagents.

The excellent news is you may guarantee higher analysis reproducibility in the event you carry out high quality management exams to substantiate your supplies’ continued stability or usability.

These exams range in design, and what they examine. Nevertheless, displaying that unexpired and expired reagents generate the identical outcomes when every little thing else is stored fixed can stop confounding elements from impairing the reproducibility of your work.

When performing these high quality management exams, there’ll seemingly be instances when any person in your laboratory discovers {that a} reagent or substance works completely previous its expiration date. It’s vital to think about that you could be want further high quality management exams as expired reagents proceed to age additional.

High quality management exams themselves take time and sources. Ideally, keep away from utilizing expired reagents altogether. However in case you have no different choice, carry out high quality management exams.

3. Design Your Experimental Protocols in Element

You will have the best instruments, and so they’re all working correctly. Now it’s time to design your experiments. When writing your protocols, pay immense consideration to element.

Researchers discover a number of causes to keep away from together with an acceptable quantity of element. I’m certain you’ve heard among the following:

  1. “I’ve a very good reminiscence, and I’ll keep in mind what I did or the best way to do the experiment.”
  2. “We have to lower down on the strategies part to satisfy the phrase restrict.”
  3. “This step doesn’t should be finished precisely the identical every time.”
  4. “Sure particulars are pointless.”

We regularly give ourselves and our reminiscence an excessive amount of credit score. It’s simple to neglect easy steps or combine up numbers in our heads. It’s additionally not the case that you may be the one one to carry out a specific experiment. A cornerstone of analysis is the power of different researchers to copy our findings. And different researchers can’t depend on our reminiscence alone.

Concision vs. Element

Now, there are examples of instances when concise writing is vital, and, not less than of their present type, journal article submissions are amongst these examples. Take into accout although, that concision typically opposes element.

That’s to not say that, regardless of submitting a extra concise methodology as a part of an article, you may’t additionally preserve a extra detailed and exact protocol elsewhere. Good examples of locations it can save you a extra detailed protocol are:

  1. Your laboratory pocket book.
  2. A devoted binder within the lab.
  3. A community drive.

These extra detailed protocols can then be referred to by different members of your lab, and even despatched to different researchers ought to they attain out about an article you’ve printed. When writing these detailed protocols, it’s vital to keep away from leaving out the knowledge you’re taking with no consideration and deem pointless.

Right here’s an instance of data that’s simple to take with no consideration.

A protocol might state, “carry out the experiment utilizing ten million cells, counted utilizing a hemacytometer”.

This may increasingly appear to present loads of element, because the required variety of cells and the approach used to rely the cells are listed.

However had been there any clumped cells whenever you counted? Did you rely each dwelling and lifeless cells, or solely dwelling cells? How a lot of your cell suspension did you load into the hemacytometer? Did you dilute your cell suspension earlier than counting? What calculations did you carry out to transform out of your hemacytometer counts to your last cell rely?

It’s crucial that particulars akin to these are communicated and shared. Steps akin to these are sometimes assumed to be carried out equivalently between researchers. Particularly researchers working throughout the identical lab. Or they’re wrongly assumed to not impression the outcomes.

Nevertheless, it may very well be the case that utilizing 9 or 11 million cells, on account of completely different counting strategies, leads to completely different outcomes. Even when steps and particulars appear trivial, it’s higher to be protected and design your experimental protocols intimately than to danger irreproducible analysis.

4. Embody Acceptable Controls and Practices

A part of designing your experiment is selecting which controls to incorporate. With out the suitable optimistic and unfavorable controls, it’s rather more troublesome to find out whether or not the outcomes you observe are genuinely on account of your experimental variable or confounding elements.

Which controls are acceptable in your experiment will range, however it is extremely uncommon for it to be the case that no acceptable controls exist. Some vital varieties of controls embody (however should not restricted to):

  1. Constructive Controls. Identified to provide the anticipated impact.
  2. Damaging Controls. Identified not to provide the anticipated impact.
  3. Procedural Controls. Comparable to taking measurements twice to cut back potential error.

Along with controls, a number of practices can (and when doable, ought to) be included into experiments to restrict error, stop bias, and enhance reproducibility. These embody (however should not restricted to):

  1. Randomization of group assignments or different elements when acceptable. [1]
  2. Blinding, or not offering sure details about samples, contributors, or knowledge both to researchers or contributors to stop biased assortment or interpretation of outcomes. [2]
  3. Consistency in in any other case missed experimental components akin to time of day. Even one thing akin to the intercourse of the researcher may impression animal research outcomes.

Affirmation biases, confounding variables, and different issues that may in any other case trigger your analysis to be irreproducible are rather more simply recognized in the event you embody acceptable controls and practices in your experimental design and protocols.

5. Assign Work Appropriately

You’ve written your protocol, you’ve got the best controls, and it’s time to carry out the experiment. Who in your lab will carry out every step? Do you’ve got collaborators in different labs that shall be performing components of the experiment?

Collaboration in a lab is commonly a gateway to success and might carry collectively completely different experience and ability units to deal with a analysis query. Nevertheless, you will need to allocate experimental obligations appropriately.

In any lab, people could have completely different strengths and weaknesses, and numerous ranges of expertise. That is very true in case your lab consists of trainees akin to college students and fellows (at any stage). Whereas it could appear apparent, lab members needs to be totally skilled to deal with any experimental steps that they’re assigned.

For instance, think about you’ve got a lab member who’s an professional at performing Western blots, and one other lab member who’s an professional at performing PCR. This offers a superb alternative for cross-training and sharing data. Nevertheless, till cross-training is full and each lab members are totally outfitted to carry out each methods, Western blot, and PCR experiments are extra appropriately dealt with by the respective specialists within the lab.

Who’s totally outfitted to carry out completely different methods will change over time as cross-training happens, and lab members come and go. For that reason, it’s important to maintain this step in thoughts and assign work appropriately for each experiment.

6. Publish Sincere Methodology Sections

Now that you just’ve accomplished your experiments, you’re able to publish them in a journal. Congratulations! As I’ve mentioned, you will have to shorten your protocols and strategies to satisfy the journal’s phrase restrict and assist the paper movement or learn higher.

You’ve most likely learn many papers the place the authors will say one of many following:

  1. “In keeping with producer suggestions.”
  2. “As per Smith et al.”
  3. “As beforehand described elsewhere.”

These methods lower down the size of the article to satisfy phrase limits and take away particulars which are maybe pointless. Nevertheless, it additionally introduces the potential to go away out vital methodological particulars or misrepresent the work carried out.

Should you intend to explain strategies as being finished “in keeping with producer suggestions”, make certain that the producer’s suggestions had been adopted precisely.

Usually, producers present a variety of suggestions and encourage researchers to start inside that vary and optimize as wanted. Different instances, producers will present suggestions for one context, however not the precise context wherein your experiment was carried out. These are each examples of cases the place it’s inconceivable to present all the main points by describing strategies on this method.

Related issues can come up when describing strategies as being finished in keeping with one other article, whether or not your personal or one other. The cited article might not present sufficient element to copy the strategies, or it could equally cite an earlier article from which the strategies had been taken, resulting in a reproducibility rabbit gap.

This isn’t to say that credit score shouldn’t be given when strategies are taken from one other research, however the place doable, these strategies needs to be totally and precisely described. If it isn’t acceptable to incorporate this data in the principle publication, together with it in supplemental supplies or publicly reporting it elsewhere needs to be prioritized.

As a final resort, if publicly reporting the complete methodology will not be doable, researchers ought to have the ability to attain out to you to acquire the complete methodology (keep in mind Tip #3!). Nevertheless you deal with the ultimate publication, make sure you publish sincere methodology sections in order that your work will help us attain a more in-depth approximation of the reality.

7. Embody Damaging Information and Appropriate Publication Errors

Researchers typically solely publish optimistic findings with out publishing related unfavorable findings. Publishing unfavorable knowledge will help different researchers not solely know what to do to copy your outcomes but in addition what not to do.

Because the unfavorable knowledge will not be the sexiest a part of your outcomes, it could make extra sense to incorporate them in supplemental supplies—however they need to nonetheless be included.

After publishing your analysis, together with each your optimistic and unfavorable findings, you could uncover an error in your printed article. Whether or not the error is so simple as a typo or misplaced decimal level, or as drastic as incorrectly analyzed or introduced knowledge, prioritize its correction to keep away from the irreproducibility of the findings. 

Even when this implies retracting your article, it’s higher to have the error corrected than to have it proceed to misguide different researchers into performing irreproducible analysis. Nobody enjoys being improper or explaining how they’ve failed. However to enhance your analysis reproducibility, and the reproducibility of researchers who construct upon your findings, make sure you embody unfavorable knowledge and proper publication errors.

8. Be a Conscious Researcher

Even when every little thing else units the stage for a profitable and reproducible experiment, variations in researcher habits may impression outcomes or the power to carry out experiments reproducibly.

For instance, are you too hopped up on caffeine to pipette precisely? Conversely, are you too drained to focus and keep away from errors? Or possibly you’re distracted by issues happening outdoors of labor.

Discovering the best psychological area to carry out your experimental steps precisely and exactly is essential, and never one thing to be ignored or taken with no consideration. Even an ideal toolbox is most useful within the arms of a aware employee. If you’d like your analysis to be reproducible, it’s vital to not solely excellent your toolbox but in addition be a aware researcher whereas utilizing that toolbox.

Analysis Replication in Abstract

There you’ve got it! Eight actionable suggestions that may instantly enhance the reproducibility of your analysis, and that may make you a greater scientist. That will help you keep in mind these key factors, we’ve summarized them in a easy desk (see Desk 1).

Desk 1:

How Do I Carry out Reproducible Analysis?

Correctly label every little thing

Keep away from utilizing the improper reagent by retaining them well-labeled.

Keep away from utilizing expired reagents or carry out high quality management exams

Take away reagent degradation as a doable confounding issue.

Design your experimental protocols intimately

Correctly steadiness concision and element to make sure that your work might be replicated precisely.

Embody acceptable controls and practices

Be certain that your findings should not on account of confounding elements or biases.

Assign work appropriately

Rule out technical inexperience as a doable confounding issue.

Publish sincere methodology sections

Keep away from unintentionally misguiding different researchers.

Embody unfavorable knowledge and proper publication errors

Inform the reality, the entire reality, and nothing however the reality.

Set your self up for fulfillment and keep away from errors.

Whether or not you’re on the experimental design stage, in the course of performing your experiments, or have already collected your outcomes and are in search of to publish your findings, the following pointers will help be sure that you proceed to make use of, construct, and enhance upon the truth-seeking toolbox of science.

Obtained any recommendation on making science extra reproducible? Share them within the feedback part!


  1. Suresh Ok (2011) An outline of randomization methods: An unbiased evaluation of consequence in medical analysis. J Hum Reprod Sci 4(1):8–11
  2. Bespalov A, Wicke Ok, and Castagné V (2019) Blinding and Randomization. In: Bespalov A, Michel M, and Steckler T (eds) Good Analysis Follow in Non-Scientific Pharmacology and Biomedicine. Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, vol 257. Springer, Cham

Share this to your community:



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here