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avatar for Sebastien Renaut

Sebastien Renaut

Science Reproducibility and Data Archiving in Ecology and Evolution


Sébastien Renaut, Université de MontréalInstitut de recherche en biologie végétale, Département des Sciences biologiques, Université de Montréal, 4101 Sherbrooke Est, Montréal H1X 2B2, Canada


Data are the foundation of empirical research. Yet, data underlying scientific papers are often unavailable, incorrect, or poorly curated, and systematic studies on the reproducibility of results are surprisingly rare. To address this question, we gathered hundreds of datasets from either public data archives, or direct correspondence with authors, and attempted to reproduce two common statistical analyses used in biology: STRUCTURE plots using genetic data, and Discriminant Function Analyses using morphometric data. While results were encouraging and showed that a majority of simple analyses were reproducible, they highlight the fact that many studies are not the carefully curated research that the scientific community and public should expect. We also report that mandated data archiving greatly improves access to data, and come to the conclusion that data disappear rapidly as articles age. Finally, using Datadryad.org as an example, we show how data archiving has grown exponentially since 2010 and may lead to an increase in citation rates, one of the main currencies of researchers.