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Reproducible research, United States. Department of Agriculture -- Research -- Evaluation, Replication (Experimental design), Research -- Methodology


The Science Advisory Council was established in FY2016 as a subcommittee of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics (NAREEE) Advisory Board to provide advice and guidance, on a scientific basis, on the overall strength, practicality, and direction of agricultural research, including emerging technology and scientific issues and report any findings publicly to the NAREEE Advisory Board.

In spring of 2016, the USDA Science Advisory Council was first charged by the Chief Scientist to examine a number of controversial and challenging issues. The first was to address the general subject of reproducibility in the agricultural and nutrition related sciences. General background reading was assigned to members and first review of the issue was conducted in a face to face meeting on May 24th, 2016. This report reflects the understanding and consensus of the advisory council in this matter.

The issue of rigor should actually be appreciated across three specific understandings. This approach was recently discussed in a National Science Foundation report of a year ago (Ref 1) where these understandings were very well outlined. Our goal in guiding USDA on this issue is to help ensure that all studies, extramural and intramural, achieve the goal of being reproducible, replicable and generalizable. Throughout this report we will take the term rigor to include the three concepts of reproducibility, replicability and generalizability.


A product of the Science Advisory Council of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board.

Note: At the time of writing, Mark McLellan was affiliated with Utah State University.

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