Ian Mulvany

December 16, 2021

remember the reproducibility project?

This editorial came out in eLife last week - https://elifesciences.org/articles/75830, giving a overview of the completion of the reproducibility project - in which a select set of key findings in cancer biology would be reproduced, with external funding. 

It has taken seven years to complete. Seven years! I was at eLife when this initiative way launched, and we had initial high hopes that it might progress quickly. It became apparent early on that it was not going to go as quickly as we had hoped, but even still I am a little disheartened that it has taken so long to get to completion. 

The main thing that this can tell us us that science is really hard. The iteration cycles, and feedback cycles are really at the decade level. The amount of time, commitment, and the lead time for research to lead to innovation, is really a long game. It really brings in to question the kind of timelines that we have setup as reward systems in science and research. They are far too short, and really can only be taken as approximate measures. 

While I am somewhat disheartened that it has taken so long, at the same time I have to applaud the many people who got this over the line. That represents a real dedication to seeing out this project, and perhaps after all, what I need to do id recalibrate my own sense of the timelines of effort that we need to think about when applying ourselves to systemic change.