University of Nebraska Medical Center

Replication studies strengthen research and education

Morshed Alam presenting at ICASA International Conference

Spotlight on Research at COPH – Replication of scientific research is currently a hot topic in the media. Research studies have been criticized for lacking standardized procedures, insufficient documentation and misuse of statistical techniques leading to results that cannot be duplicated by other researchers.

In 2015, Drs. Meza, Smith, Yu, and Luo from the Department of Biostatistics received grants for replication studies from the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation, in partnership with Science Exchange. The focus of these studies was to replicate results of HIV/AIDS research conducted in Africa. Replication studies are used to confirm results of previous studies and verify that the results are robust, that results can be replicated and are reproducible. Read more about the replication studies here: https://www.unmc.edu/newsroom/2017/01/31/researchers-replicate-african-hiv-aids-studies/

While replication studies are important for research, they can also be useful for educational purposes. PhD students Nicholas Hein and Morshed Alam were also funded to work on these studies and were instrumental to their success. Through their work, the students obtained a clear understanding of the importance of communicating statistical methods in publications. The students gained experience in communicating statistical techniques in writing, coding in various platforms, multiple statistical techniques used to determine quality of data, and the importance of documentation.

In addition to the published replication papers, Drs. Smith, Luo, and Yu submitted a roundtable presentation for the Joint Statistical Meeting in July 2017 and presented their results at the 2016 HIVR4P conference in Chicago. The faculty and Nicholas Hein, presented at the National 3ie Research Transparency Event. Morshed Alam was an invited speaker at ICASA International Conference, in the Ivory Coast in December 2017. The results of the replication studies will be published next year in a special issue of PLOS ONE.

This article was written by Kendra Schmid, PhD, Interim-Chair and Professor, Department of Biostatistics and Lynette Smith, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics.

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