NIH Policy on Rigor and Reproducibility

You’ve all heard about the reproducibility crisis in science. But you may not be aware of a (relatively) new National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy designed to address the issue. The NIH Policy on Rigor and Reproducibility became effective for proposals received on or after January 25, 2016 and applies to most NIH and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) grant applications. We just learned about the policy ourselves thanks to the combined efforts of UCSD library and research staff to raise awareness on their campus (and here’s a noteworthy mention in a Nature review of 2015 science news). To aid researchers in meeting the new criteria, UCSD produced this handy guide that we (and they) would like to share with the wider community.

The new policy does not involve any changes to data sharing plans. It is related and important enough, however, that we inserted a statement and link in the “NIH-GEN: Generic” template (Please note the Rigor and Reproducibility requirements that involve updates to grant application instructions and review criteria [but not Data Sharing Plans]).

The policy does involve:

  • Revisions to application guide instructions for preparing your research strategy attachment
  • Use of a new “Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources” attachment (example from UCSD library website)
  • Additional rigor and transparency questions reviewers will be asked to consider when reviewing applications

These policies are all meant to achieve basically the same goals: to promote openness, transparency, reproducibility, access to, and reuse of the results of scientific research. We’re grateful to the folks at UCSD—Dr. Anita Bandrowski, Ho Jung Yoo, and Reid Otsuji—for helping to consolidate the message and for providing some new educational resources.

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