Transparency and reproducibility in data analysis: the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Biostatistics (Oxford, England), Volume 11, Issue 3, p.413-8 (2010)


2010, Biopsy, Center-Authored Paper, Clinical Trials as Topic, Data Interpretation, Statistical, Digital Rectal Examination, Enzyme Inhibitors, Finasteride, Humans, Male, Prostate-Specific Antigen, Prostatic Neoplasms, Public Health Sciences Division, Reproducibility of Results


With the analysis of complex, messy data sets, the statistics community has recently focused attention on "reproducible research," namely research that can be readily replicated by others. One standard that has been proposed is the availability of data sets and computer code. However, in some situations, raw data cannot be disseminated for reasons of confidentiality or because the data are so messy as to make dissemination impractical. For one such situation, we propose 2 steps for reproducible research: (i) presentation of a table of data and (ii) presentation of a formula to estimate key quantities from the table of data. We illustrate this strategy in the analysis of data from the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, which investigated the effect of the drug finasteride versus placebo on the period prevalence of prostate cancer. With such an important result at stake, a transparent analysis was important.