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Planning for a meeting on the reproducibility crisis in Australia (8 April 2019)
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What can researchers do to improve the quality of health and medical research in Australia?

Location: QUT, Gardens Point Theatre

Date: Monday 8th April 2019

Summary: An estimated 85% of spending on health and medical research is avoidably wasted. Waste occurs at all stages of the research process, including:

  • Systematic reviews are too rarely used, leading to poorly planned research or unnecessary replications
  • Patients and stakeholders are rarely consulted to help form research questions, leading to poorly planned research that has little chance of being translated into practice
  • Many study designs fail to include basic bias-reduction techniques such as blinding
  • Statistical methods are often poorly applied and results are misinterpreted due to a lack of statistical training
  • Around 50% of funded research is never published, possibly because the results were disappointing or the researchers ran out of time. Some research is supressed because the results are potentially embarrassing or commercially damaging
  • Around 50% of published papers are incompletely written-up, making it impossible for others to build on the research or for the research to be translated into practice
  • Research results are often stuck behind pay-walls, making it hard for policy makers to access and act on
  • Translating research into practice is not given sufficient priority, and researchers often do not have the time or skills to translate their research

Many of these problems are driven by the current hyper-competitive research world, summed up by the maxim of "publish or perish". But as the statistician Doug Altman elegantly said in 1994, “We need less research, better research, and research done for the right reasons”.

Research waste is occurring in Australia and as researchers we should be leading the drive the reduce waste and increase value. The aim of this day is to first hear from researchers working on the issues of research waste, and then spend the afternoon discussing potential policies to reduce waste. Ideally at the end of the day we will have one or two policies that we agree the research community will support and that would help reduce research waste. All researchers and stakeholders are welcome to come and contribute to what we aim to make a positive day of change.

The speakers will include many of the best Australian researchers in the meta-research field. We will also hear from Professor Brian Nosek who is the co-founder and director of the Center for Open Science in Virginia.

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