This month we focus on reproducibility of research with the Open Science Publication of the Month March: ‘Reproducibility of 3D scanning in the periorbital region’ by Maria H. J. Hollander, Joep Kraeima, Anne M. L. Meesters, Konstantina Delli, Arjan Vissink, Johan Jansma and Rutger H. Schepers, published Scientific Reports volume 11, Article number: 3671 (2021).
Reproducibility studies; why?
Reproducibility is an important topic, and one that does not get the attention it deserves. In reproducibility studies, the focus does not tend to be on new knowledge but on reproducing knowledge already attained. This is very necessary in order to make sure that what we think we know is actually true, but underfunded because many research funders focus on new knowledge.
Marijke Hollander and Joep Kraeima (together with UMCG co-authors Anne Meesters, Konstantina Delli, Arjan Vissink, Johan Jansma and Rutger Schepers) were able to break with this trend by investigating the reproducibility of 3d scanning of the periorbital region, the region around the eye.
Marijke Hollander: “In the study we used a handheld 3d scanner to measure the volume of the periorbital region in a clinical setting. We made a series of minute-interval scans and this was repeated one year later. Based on the results of this reproducibility study we concluded that we could use this device because the expected differences in tissue volume between pre and post surgery situations are much higher than the small differences over time when no surgery has been performed.”
Joep Kraeima explains how the team of authors has been able to undertake this reproducibility study, despite the barriers that exist: “We don’t see a lot of reproducibility studies in our field of work. Researchers often claim certain health treatment outcomes, which are then also communicated towards patients when they need to decide on their treatment plan. But very often it is not known if the predicted outcome is really caused by the treatment. That is why research like this is so important. We started at the very basis; how precise and reproducible are our measurements exactly? Our incentive is internal, because we need to verify treatment outcomes in order to be able to give the quality of care we wish to uphold.”
The importance of accurate measurements
The reproducibility of 3d measurements is important when comparing one technique for eyelid correction with the other. Marijke: “we performed this research as part of my PhD research in which I analyzed if one procedure, where more tissue is removed, is more effective than the other. To assess this you’ll need to know if your measurements are reproducible in the first place. Based on this research we were able to conclude that the scans are reproducible enough to compare the two methods.” Joep adds to this: “It is about the academic quality we strive for. Doing this more technical research enables us to do more ‘eye-catching’ research later. Because if you don’t meet those technical conditions, then you make your research further down the line vulnerable for critique.”
Reproducibility studies are vital for the UMCG. As they often verify or disqualify treatment pathways for patients, they are inevitably studies with a positive impact on healthcare and research in the UMCG. Another important aspect of Open Science is open peer review. This topic, that is all about publishing critique by peers on academic output, is the focus of the next Open Science Publication of the Month.
Read the article: ‘Reproducibility of 3D scanning in the periorbital region‘.