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Hi Reddit, we're Malcolm MacLeod and David Howells, and we published a paper in PLOS Biology that found an elevated average risk of bias in work from leading institutions or work published in high-impact factor journals -- Ask Us Anything!
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Hi Reddit, My name is Malcolm Macleod and I am Professor of Neurology and Translational Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh. I’m interested in risks of bias in animal research, and how these might get in the way of the development of new drugs. And my name is David Howells and I am Professor of Neuroscience and Brain Plasticity at the University of Tasmania. My research on stroke focuses on how we translate good ideas into solid bench science that might then survive the rigor of clinical trialing to provide treatments for brain diseases. We recently published a study titled “Risks of bias in reports of in vivo research: A focus for improvement” in PLOS Biology. This study extends work across multiple neuroscience domains which highlights the risk of overestimation of the potential for translational success when studies fail to take measures to reduce the impact of bias. This study investigated whether this held true across a broader range of science and whether where the work was conducted or published influenced the risk of bias. We already know that publications which do not describe certain design features which reduce the risk of bias (e.g. randomization, blinding) tend to exaggerate observed effects, at least in the neurosciences. We were interested to see whether this was the case more generally, and if this was different in journals with a high impact factor or in work from leading institutions. We found that nobody is doing particularly well but also that work from leading institutions or published in high impact factor journals was at greater than average risk of bias. We hope that scientists, institutions, journals, and funders will use these findings to help improve the process of drug discovery and development. We will be answering your questions at 1pm EST (10am PST and 5am on 1/14/16 in Melbourne). Ask Us Anything! You can follow Malcolm on Twitter @maclomaclee, and @CAMARADES_