Do oncology researchers adhere to reproducible and transparent principles? A cross-sectional survey of published oncology literature

Corbin Walters, Zachery J. Harter, Cole Wayant, Nam Vo, Michael Warren, Justin Chronister, Daniel Tritz, Matt Vassar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: As much as 50%-90% of research is estimated to be irreproducible, costing upwards of $28 billion in USA alone. Reproducible research practices are essential to improving the reproducibility and transparency of biomedical research, such as including preregistering studies, publishing a protocol, making research data and metadata publicly available, and publishing in open access journals. Here we report an investigation of key reproducible or transparent research practices in the published oncology literature. Design: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of a random sample of 300 oncology publications published from 2014 to 2018. We extracted key reproducibility and transparency characteristics in a duplicative fashion by blinded investigators using a pilot tested Google Form. Primary outcome measures: The primary outcome of this investigation is the frequency of key reproducible or transparent research practices followed in published biomedical and clinical oncology literature. Results: Of the 300 publications randomly sampled, 296 were analysed for reproducibility characteristics. Of these 296 publications, 194 contained empirical data that could be analysed for reproducible and transparent research practices. Raw data were available for nine studies (4.6%). Five publications (2.6%) provided a protocol. Despite our sample including 15 clinical trials and 7 systematic reviews/meta-analyses, only 7 included a preregistration statement. Less than 25% (65/194) of publications provided an author conflict of interest statement. Conclusion: We found that key reproducibility and transparency characteristics were absent from a random sample of published oncology publications. We recommend required preregistration for all eligible trials and systematic reviews, published protocols for all manuscripts, and deposition of raw data and metadata in public repositories.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere033962
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number12
StatePublished - 31 Dec 2019



  • cross-sectional study
  • oncology
  • replication crisis
  • reproducibility
  • transparency

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