The current ‘reproducibility crisis’ in biomedical research is enabled by the lack of publicly accessible information on whether the reported scientific claims are valid. In this paper, published on bioRxiv, Peter Grabitz and colleagues propose an approach to solve this problem that is based on a simple numerical measure of veracity, the R-factor, which summarizes the outcomes of already published studies that have attempted to test a claim. The R-factor of an investigator, a journal, or an institution would be the average of the R-factors of the claims they reported. The authors illustrate this approach using three studies recently tested by the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology, compare the results, and discuss how using the R-factor can help improve the integrity of scientific research.
Although calculating the R-factor for a handful of reports is relatively simple, especially to an expert in the field, the question remains who will calculate the R-factors for the thousands of researchers and their hundreds of thousands or even millions of reports?
Further potential shortcomings of the R-factor are discussed here.