Biomedical research advancements depend on data credibility but scientific results are not always reproducible. Independent verification of cell culture findings is a basic principle of research and the procedure and other factors affect the concept of research reproducibility heavily. Many scientists who work with primary cell culture focus on the ‘correctness’ of the results but the crucial point is ensuring the research transparency.
Theoretically, cell culture researchers should be able to re-create the experiments and generate the same results to validate the original work but the reality is not always like that. More than often, research reproducibility is not found in the line of animal cell culture research with primary cells.
What is Research Reproducibility?
The ‘lack of research reproducibility’ is understood in the scientific community but often fail in practice. The American Society for Cell Biology® (ASCB®) has come up with these terms: Direct replication– efforts to reproduce a previously observed result by using original experimental design and conditions; Analytic replication– efforts to reproduce a series of scientific findings through reanalysis of the original data set; Systemic replication- efforts to reproduce a published finding under different experimental conditions; Conceptual replication– efforts to validate a phenomenon by evaluating a different set of experimental conditions.
The Problems with Research Reproducibility
The lack of research reproducibility in animal cell culture research with primary cells has negative impacts on scientific output efficiency, scientific progress, and utilization of resources. It also affects the trust of common people in scientific research.
Here are four factors contributing to the lack of research reproducibility:
- No access to methodological details, raw data, and research materials.
Cell culture scientists must be able to access the original data, protocols, and key research materials if they are expected to reproduce original results. Research reproducibility is greatly hindered due to the lack of access to these resources. The systems for sharing raw unpublished data and research materials, in form of data repositories and biorepositories, need to be made to make the issue of sharing negligible.
- Using misidentified, cross-contaminated, or over-passaged cell cultures.
Research reproducibility in biomedical research can be complicated by biological materials like primary cell culture in case they cannot be tracked to their original source or are not authenticated and maintained. In the case of contaminated animal cell culture, results can be significantly affected and their likelihood of replication diminished. Many studies have shown that serial passaging can lead to variations in gene expression, growth rate, spreading, and migration in primary cell culture and this can further lead to results that cannot be reproduced.
- No training to manage complex datasets
In today’s era, scientific advancements in biomedical research have led to the generation of extensive and complex data sets but many researchers do not have the knowledge or tools for analyzing or interpreting the data correctly. This leads to misinterpretation of results and hinders research reproducibility.
- A competitive culture that undervalues negative results
Biomedical research or science, as a matter of fact, is not just about positive results or proving a hypothesis right. A lot of times, negative results come up but the goody-good academic system does not encourage the publication of these results. Researchers are rewarded for publishing novel findings but negative results are not encouraged. This results in data manipulation by researchers and majorly becomes a barrier for research reproducibility.
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