Reproducibility in systems biology modelling

A recent report by Tiwari et al. investigated the reproducibility rate in systems biology modelling by reproducing the mathematical representation of 455 kinetic models. The authors tried to 

1.) reproduce the published model (step 1), 

2.) if failed, adjust their efforts based on experience (step 2), 

3.) if failed again, contact the authors of the original study for clarification and support (step 3).

When attempting to reproduce the selected models based on the information provided in the primary literature (step 1), only 51% of the models could be reproduced, meaning that the remaining 49% needed additional efforts (i.e. via steps 2+3). However, 37% of the total articles could not be reproduced by Tiwari and colleagues at all, even when adjusting the model system or asking the authors of the original study for support.

Notably, over 70% of the corresponding authors did not respond when contacted by Tiwari et al and in half of the responses it was not possible to reproduce the model, even with the support of the authors.

This low reproducibility rate, in combination with the very low response rate of the original authors makes it absolutely necessary to have very good reporting standards in the original study and to have them checked by the peer reviewers.

To improve the situation for systems biology, Tiwari and colleagues provided specific reporting guidelines in form of a checklist with eight points to increase the reproducibility of systems biology modelling.

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