|Reproducibility Crisis: Are We Ignoring Reaction Norms?
In this letter, published in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences
, Bernhard Voelkl and Hanno Würbel discuss the importance of phenotypic plasticity in experimental design and analysis. Generally, phenotypic plasticity is the capacity of a single genotype to exhibit variable phenotypes in different environments. Due to this variability, results should be expected to differ for a certain degree whenever an in vivo experiment is replicated.
Given that between-experiment variation in the measured parameter can be substantial, phenotypic plasticity (or reaction norm) should be considered as a potential source of poor reproducibility. Furthermore, because many environmental factors cannot be normalized by research standards, increasingly rigorous standardization will consequently further increase the difference between laboratory-specific parameters resulting in even lower reproducibility – an effect known as the ‘standardization fallacy’.