21 February 2018
Int J Med Sci 2018; 15(4):309-322. doi:10.7150/ijms.23215
While it is not deliberate, much of today's biomedical research contains logical and technical flaws, showing a need for corrective action
1. Key Lab of Endemic and Ethnic Diseases of the Ministry of Education of China in Guizhou Medical University, Guiyang, Guizhou 550004, P. R. China
Biomedical research has advanced swiftly in recent decades, largely due to progress in biotechnology. However, this rapid spread of new, and not always-fully understood, technology has also created a lot of false or irreproducible data and artifacts, which sometimes have led to erroneous conclusions. When describing various scientific issues, scientists have developed a habit of saying “on one hand… but on the other hand…”, because discrepant data and conclusions have become omnipresent. One reason for this problematic situation is that we are not always thoughtful enough in study design, and sometimes lack enough philosophical contemplation. Another major reason is that we are too rushed in introducing new technology into our research without assimilating technical details. In this essay, we provide examples in different research realms to justify our points. To help readers test their own weaknesses, we raise questions on technical details of RNA reverse transcription, polymerase chain reactions, western blotting and immunohistochemical staining, as these methods are basic and are the base for other modern biotechnologies. Hopefully, after contemplation and reflection on these questions, readers will agree that we indeed know too little about these basic techniques, especially about the artifacts they may create, and thus many conclusions drawn from the studies using those ever-more-sophisticated techniques may be even more problematic.
Keywords: Biotechnology, reproducibility, Artifacts, Reverse transcription, Polymerase chain reactions, microRNA, siRNA
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How to cite this article:
He Y, Yuan C, Chen L, Liu Y, Zhou H, Xu N, Liao DJ. While it is not deliberate, much of today's biomedical research contains logical and technical flaws, showing a need for corrective action. Int J Med Sci 2018; 15(4):309-322. doi:10.7150/ijms.23215. Available from http://www.medsci.org/v15p0309.htm