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Concept: Replication


Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have detected many disease associations. However, the reported variants tend to explain small fractions of risk, and there are doubts about issues such as the portability of findings over different ethnic groups or the relative roles of rare versus common variants in the genetic architecture of complex disease. Studying the degree of sharing of disease-associated variants across populations can help in solving these issues. We present a comprehensive survey of GWAS replicability across 28 diseases. Most loci and SNPs discovered in Europeans for these conditions have been extensively replicated using peoples of European and East Asian ancestry, while the replication with individuals of African ancestry is much less common. We found a strong and significant correlation of Odds Ratios across Europeans and East Asians, indicating that underlying causal variants are common and shared between the two ancestries. Moreover, SNPs that failed to replicate in East Asians map into genomic regions where Linkage Disequilibrium patterns differ significantly between populations. Finally, we observed that GWAS with larger sample sizes have detected variants with weaker effects rather than with lower frequencies. Our results indicate that most GWAS results are due to common variants. In addition, the sharing of disease alleles and the high correlation in their effect sizes suggest that most of the underlying causal variants are shared between Europeans and East Asians and that they tend to map close to the associated marker SNPs.

Concepts: Genetics, Genome-wide association study, Effect size, Ethnic group, Asia, Replication, East Asia, Asian people


There is vigorous debate about the reproducibility of research findings in cancer biology. Whether scientists can accurately assess which experiments will reproduce original findings is important to determining the pace at which science self-corrects. We collected forecasts from basic and preclinical cancer researchers on the first 6 replication studies conducted by the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology (RP:CB) to assess the accuracy of expert judgments on specific replication outcomes. On average, researchers forecasted a 75% probability of replicating the statistical significance and a 50% probability of replicating the effect size, yet none of these studies successfully replicated on either criterion (for the 5 studies with results reported). Accuracy was related to expertise: experts with higher h-indices were more accurate, whereas experts with more topic-specific expertise were less accurate. Our findings suggest that experts, especially those with specialized knowledge, were overconfident about the RP:CB replicating individual experiments within published reports; researcher optimism likely reflects a combination of overestimating the validity of original studies and underestimating the difficulties of repeating their methodologies.

Concepts: Scientific method, Statistics, Statistical significance, Research, Psychometrics, Effect size, Replication, Expert


Concerns about a lack of reproducibility of statistically significant results have recently been raised in many fields, and it has been argued that this lack comes at substantial economic costs. We here report the results from prediction markets set up to quantify the reproducibility of 44 studies published in prominent psychology journals and replicated in the Reproducibility Project: Psychology. The prediction markets predict the outcomes of the replications well and outperform a survey of market participants' individual forecasts. This shows that prediction markets are a promising tool for assessing the reproducibility of published scientific results. The prediction markets also allow us to estimate probabilities for the hypotheses being true at different testing stages, which provides valuable information regarding the temporal dynamics of scientific discovery. We find that the hypotheses being tested in psychology typically have low prior probabilities of being true (median, 9%) and that a “statistically significant” finding needs to be confirmed in a well-powered replication to have a high probability of being true. We argue that prediction markets could be used to obtain speedy information about reproducibility at low cost and could potentially even be used to determine which studies to replicate to optimally allocate limited resources into replications.

Concepts: Scientific method, Statistics, Mathematics, Prediction, Hypothesis, Theory, Replication, Falsifiability


We present a successful replication of Ebbinghaus' classic forgetting curve from 1880 based on the method of savings. One subject spent 70 hours learning lists and relearning them after 20 min, 1 hour, 9 hours, 1 day, 2 days, or 31 days. The results are similar to Ebbinghaus' original data. We analyze the effects of serial position on forgetting and investigate what mathematical equations present a good fit to the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve and its replications. We conclude that the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve has indeed been replicated and that it is not completely smooth but most probably shows a jump upwards starting at the 24 hour data point.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Manifold, Differential equation, Replication, Parametric equation, Hermann Ebbinghaus, Forgetting curve


The neurohormone Oxytocin (OT) has been one of the most studied peptides in behavioral sciences over the past two decades. Many studies have suggested that OT could increase trusting behaviors. A previous study, based on the “Envelope Task” paradigm, where trust is assessed by the degree of openness of an envelope containing participant’s confidential information, showed that OT increases trusting behavior and reported one of the most powerful effects of OT on a behavioral variable. In this paper we present two failed replications of this effect, despite sufficient power to replicate the original large effect. The non-significant results of these two failed replications clearly exclude a large effect of OT on trust in this paradigm but are compatible with either a null effect of OT on trust, or a small effect, undetectable with small sample size (N = 95 and 61 in Study 1 and 2, respectively). Taken together, our results question the purported size of OT’s effect on trust and emphasize the need for replications.

Concepts: Psychology, Sample size, Behavior, Human behavior, Replication, Behaviorism, Applied behavior analysis, Behavioural sciences


It is demonstrated that metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) can be replicated in a biomimetic fashion from protein patterns. Bendable, fluorescent MOF patterns are formed with micrometer resolution under ambient conditions. Furthermore, this technique is used to grow MOF patterns from fingerprint residue in 30 s with high fidelity. This technique is not only relevant for crime-scene investigation, but also for biomedical applications.

Concepts: Protein, Replication, Metal-organic framework


Scientists are dedicating more attention to replication efforts. While the scientific utility of replications is unquestionable, the impact of failed replication efforts and the discussions surrounding them deserve more attention. Specifically, the debates about failed replications on social media have led to worry, in some scientists, regarding reputation. In order to gain data-informed insights into these issues, we collected data from 281 published scientists. We assessed whether scientists overestimate the negative reputational effects of a failed replication in a scenario-based study. Second, we assessed the reputational consequences of admitting wrongness (versus not) as an original scientist of an effect that has failed to replicate. Our data suggests that scientists overestimate the negative reputational impact of a hypothetical failed replication effort. We also show that admitting wrongness about a non-replicated finding is less harmful to one’s reputation than not admitting. Finally, we discovered a hint of evidence that feelings about the replication movement can be affected by whether replication efforts are aimed one’s own work versus the work of another. Given these findings, we then present potential ways forward in these discussions.

Concepts: Scientific method, Statistics, Energy, Effect, Affect, Replication, Scientist, Pseudoscience


Replication initiatives in psychology continue to gather considerable attention from far outside the field, as well as controversy from within. Some accomplishments of these initiatives are noted, but this article focuses on why they do not provide a general solution for what ails psychology. There are inherent limitations to mass replications ever being conducted in many areas of psychology, both in terms of their practicality and their prospects for improving the science. Unnecessary compromises were built into the ground rules for design and publication of the Open Science Collaboration: Psychology that undermine its effectiveness. Some ground rules could actually be flipped into guidance for how not to conduct replications. Greater adherence to best publication practices, transparency in the design and publishing of research, strengthening of independent post-publication peer review and firmer enforcement of rules about data sharing and declarations of conflict of interest would make many replications unnecessary. Yet, it has been difficult to move beyond simple endorsement of these measures to consistent implementation. Given the strong institutional support for questionable publication practices, progress will depend on effective individual and collective use of social media to expose lapses and demand reform. Some recent incidents highlight the necessity of this.

Concepts: Scientific method, Effectiveness, Academic publishing, Research, Replication, Publishing, Conducting, Open peer review


According to the facial feedback hypothesis, people’s affective responses can be influenced by their own facial expression (e.g., smiling, pouting), even when their expression did not result from their emotional experiences. For example, Strack, Martin, and Stepper (1988) instructed participants to rate the funniness of cartoons using a pen that they held in their mouth. In line with the facial feedback hypothesis, when participants held the pen with their teeth (inducing a “smile”), they rated the cartoons as funnier than when they held the pen with their lips (inducing a “pout”). This seminal study of the facial feedback hypothesis has not been replicated directly. This Registered Replication Report describes the results of 17 independent direct replications of Study 1 from Strack et al. (1988), all of which followed the same vetted protocol. A meta-analysis of these studies examined the difference in funniness ratings between the “smile” and “pout” conditions. The original Strack et al. (1988) study reported a rating difference of 0.82 units on a 10-point Likert scale. Our meta-analysis revealed a rating difference of 0.03 units with a 95% confidence interval ranging from -0.11 to 0.16.

Concepts: Sample size, Scale, Replication, Likert scale, Facial Action Coding System, Facial expressions


Recent outbreaks in monkeys have proven that canine distemper virus (CDV) causes diseases in a wide range of mammals. CDV uses SLAM and nectin4 as receptors to replicate in susceptible animals. Here, we show that human nectin4, but not human SLAM, is fully functional as a CDV receptor. The CDV Ac96I strain hardly replicated in nectin4-expressing human epithelial NCI-H358 cells, but readily adapted to grow in them. Unsurprisingly, no amino acid change in the H protein was required for the adaptation. The original Ac96I strain possessed a truncated C protein, and a subpopulation possessing the intact C protein was selected after growth in NCI-H358 cells. Other CDV strains possessing the intact C protein showed significantly higher growth abilities in NCI-H358 cells than the Ac96I strain with the truncated C protein. These findings suggest that the C protein is functional in human epithelial cells and critical for CDV replication in them.

Concepts: Protein, Gene, Natural selection, Amino acid, Acid, Amine, Replication, Canine distemper