Repeating important research thanks to Replication Studies

11 July 2017

For the first time, NWO is funding nine projects from the health and social sciences that replicate research from others. It concerns research performed in the past that has been the basis for subsequent research or that has assumed an important place in education, policy forming or public debate. NWO wants to replicate such 'cornerstone research' in order to contribute to increased transparency in research and the quality of reporting of research results. With the awarding of these projects, NWO is also setting an international precedent.

The nine projects are being funded by NWO's pilot programme Replication Studies. This pilot covers the social sciences as well as health research and healthcare innovation. A total of 3 million euros is available over three funding rounds.

In this first round, a total of 85 proposals were submitted of which nine have been awarded funding. The large number of proposals submitted reflects the high demand in the research field for this funding possibility. According to planning, NWO will open a second call for proposals at the end of this year.

The aim of the pilot programme is to increase the transparency of research and to improve the quality and completeness of reporting of research results. With the pilot programme NWO wants to gain experience that will provide insight into how replication research studies can be effectively included in all research programmes.

A brief description of the nine projects awarded funding in order of the researcher's surname (a detailed description can be found at

Prof. E. (Evert) de Jonge (m) (Leiden University Medical Center) will replicate an Italian study. This RCT (Randomised Controlled Trial), published in JAMA 2016, revealed a lower mortality among intensive care patients in whom the oxygen pressure in the veins was kept lower than usual.

Dr L.N. (Nynke) van der Laan (f) (University Medical Centre Utrecht) will replicate a study by Hare et al. (Science, 2009) in which the first explanation for the neural basis of successful self-control in humans was given. Within the neurosciences, replication studies are still novel. This study therefore has an exemplary function as well.

Dr G. (Gera) Nagelhout (f) (Maastricht University) will replicate a study from the Americans Leventhal et al., which was published in JAMA in 2015, again in the Netherlands. The research among young people demonstrated that they had a higher chance of smoking tobacco products within one year if they had experimented with the e-cigarette.

Prof. R. P. (Robin) Peeters (m) (Erasmus MC) will analyse published and unpublished data from various studies concerning the influence of thyroid hormone on human pregnancy. This will allow earlier studies to be replicated.

Dr P. (Parvin) Tajik MD (f) (AMC) will replicate The Twin Birth Study. This study from 2013 by Jon D. Barrett of the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto was the first large international study which demonstrated that perinatal mortality or illness among twins did not improve if they were born by Caesarean section.

Dr K. (Karin) Tanja-Dijkstra (f) (VU Amsterdam) will replicate the influential research of Ulrich, Simons, Losito, Fiorito, Miles and Zelson (1991) into the stress-reducing effects of staying in a natural environment for people, which is the largest experiment ever carried out in the field of environmental psychology.

Dr B.J. (Bruno) Verschuere (m) (University of Amsterdam) will replicate research into the so-called Ten Commandments effect of Mazar, Amir and Ariely (2008; Experiment 1), which purported that reminding somebody about 'moral standards' lead to a reduction in the tendency to deceive.

Dr J.M. (Jelte) Wicherts (m) (Tilburg University) will repeat a social psychology experiment of Johns, Schmader and Martens (2005), which could explain the difference between the number of female and male mathematicians: anxiety to fulfil a stereotypic image in a group.

Dr J.C.F. (Joost) de Winter (m) (Delft University of Technology) will replicate research by Hess and Polt (Science, 1960) into pupil constriction and dilation. A link was claimed between human pupil size and personal interest.


Source: NWO