The New Guidelines One Year Later: A Progress Report from the National Institutes of Health

Sunday, February 19, 2017: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Room 302 (Hynes Convention Center)
Michael Lauer, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
While scientists like to think of themselves as rigorous, systematic, and self-correcting, reality seems otherwise. Public trust in science is low – as scientists have too often failed to be able to replicate their findings or show that their findings translate into better health or wealth. Recent work suggests that poor scientific rigor stems in part from deep-seated cognitive biases – excessive belief in small numbers; neglect of earlier findings by other scientists; non-adherence to basic principles of experimental design and data analysis; and failure to account for regression to the mean, and for the effects of confounders and interactions. To address these problems, the National Institutes of Health implemented in 2016 a new set of guidelines for applicants and reviewers that attempt to incorporate 4 key components into our funding decision processes: scientific premise, scientific rigor, inclusion of appropriate variables (including sex as a biological variable), and authentication of resources. We are now in the process of a detailed evaluation of the policy, but at this point it is too early to make any definitive judgements.