I have some good news: Nature took a poll of scientists, and found that 90% thought there was either a serious or slight replication crisis.
The bad news is that things get confusing from there. Roughly half of researchers had difficulty replicating their own results, yet about three in five said the main reasons for a failed replication were being pressured to publish or being selective in what you wished to publish.
Data on how much of the scientific literature is reproducible are rare and generally bleak. The best-known analyses, from psychology and cancer biology, found rates of around 40% and 10%, respectively. Our survey respondents were more optimistic: 73% said that they think that at least half of the papers in their field can be trusted, with physicists and chemists generally showing the most confidence.
Still, things are looking up. Mostly.
One-third of respondents said that their labs had taken concrete steps to improve reproducibility within the past five years. Rates ranged from a high of 41% in medicine to a low of 24% in physics and engineering. Free-text responses suggested that redoing the work or asking someone else within a lab to repeat the work is the most common practice. Also common are efforts to beef up the documentation and standardization of experimental methods.
Any of these can be a major undertaking. A biochemistry graduate student in the United Kingdom, who asked not to be named, says that efforts to reproduce work for her lab’s projects doubles the time and materials used — in addition to the time taken to troubleshoot when some things invariably don’t work. Although replication does boost confidence in results, she says, the costs mean that she performs checks only for innovative projects or unexpected results.