Teaching reproducible research for medical students and postgraduate pharmaceutical scientists

12/07/2020
by   Andreas D. Meid, et al.
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In many academic settings, medical students start their scientific work already during their studies. Like at our institution, they often work in interdisciplinary teams with more or less experienced (postgraduate) researchers of pharmaceutical sciences, natural sciences in general, or biostatistics. All of them should be taught good research practices as an integral part of their education, especially in terms of statistical analysis. This includes reproducibility as a central aspect of modern research. Acknowledging that even educators might be unfamiliar with necessary aspects of a perfectly reproducible workflow, I agreed to give a lecture series on reproducible research (RR) for medical students and postgraduate pharmacists involved in several areas of clinical research. Thus, I designed a piloting lecture series to highlight definitions of RR, reasons for RR, potential merits of RR, and ways to work accordingly. In trying to actually reproduce a published analysis, I encountered several practical obstacles. In this article, I focus on this working example to emphasize the manifold facets of RR, to provide possible explanations and solutions, and argue that harmonized curricula for (quantitative) clinical researchers should include RR principles. I therefore hope these experiences are helpful to raise awareness among educators and students. RR working habits are not only beneficial for ourselves or our students, but also for other researchers within an institution, for scientific partners, for the scientific community, and eventually for the public profiting from research findings.

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