Independent discussion sections for improving inferential reproducibility in published research

Michael S. Avidan, John P.A. Ioannidis, George A. Mashour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


There is a reproducibility crisis in science. There are many potential contributors to replication failure in research across the translational continuum. In this perspective piece, we focus on the narrow topic of inferential reproducibility. Although replication of methods and results is necessary to demonstrate reproducibility, it is not sufficient. Also fundamental is consistent interpretation in the Discussion section. Current deficiencies in the Discussion sections of manuscripts might limit the inferential reproducibility of scientific research. Lack of contextualisation using systematic reviews, overinterpretation and misinterpretation of results, and insufficient acknowledgement of limitations are common problems in Discussion sections; these deficiencies can harm the translational process. Proposed solutions include eliminating or not reading Discussions, writing accompanying editorials, and post-publication review and comments; however, none of these solutions works very well. A second Discussion written by an independent author with appropriate expertise in research methodology is a new testable solution that could help probe inferential reproducibility, and address some deficiencies in primary Discussion sections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-420
Number of pages8
JournalBritish journal of anaesthesia
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • discussion
  • inferential
  • meta-research
  • methods
  • reproducibility
  • research
  • rigour
  • scientific methods

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