Cleaning Up Medical Research

Published in: Health Affairs, Volume 36, Issue 11 (November 2017), pages 2028-2029. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2017.1040

by Jakub P. Hlavka

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Trial and error have been part of the scientific method for centuries. Unfortunately, avoidable errors in biomedical research — estimated to result in a waste of tens of billions of dollars in the United States alone every year — have profound consequences for researchers and patients alike. This is Richard Harris’s key message in his new book, Rigor Mortis. With a distinguished publishing record on climate change, Harris is a new voice in the field of metascience, and he offers a readable assessment of the most common reasons for unnecessary waste in biomedical research. That on its own is a useful contribution, but the real promise of Harris’s work lies in his joining the conversation on how to meaningfully improve the quality of the scientific endeavor that aims to produce new treatments.

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