Enhancing Rigor and Transparency in Neuroscience

Virtual Conference: Open Access

Scientific rigor is fundamental to two key goals of the scientific endeavor: knowledge creation and the translation of discoveries into new therapies. Research must be well-designed and implemented, accessible, and reproducible to reap the benefits of new discoveries.

For this virtual conference, SfN has partnered with NIH and neuroscientists around the world to provide you — no matter your career stage — with training resources to enhance rigor in experimental design, data analysis, and reporting of your research findings. This virtual conference is provided open access to the field and is supported by Grant Number R25DA041326 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The contents of this series are solely the responsibility of the Society for Neuroscience and do not necessarily reflect the official views of NIDA.

The insights, experiences, and practical approaches for enhancing the rigor and transparency of neuroscience research you will hear from experts in a breadth of disciplines will cover various topics, including:

  • Differences between early stage discovery, hypothesis development, and formal hypothesis testing, and how to incorporate rigor at all stages.
  • Experimental design and implementation to minimize bias.
  • Considerations for data gathering and analysis, such as sample size planning, group compilation, statistical power, and the meaning of statistical significance.
  • NIH training resources and requirements for improving rigor and reproducibility in biomedical research.
  • Transparent publishing practices and their effect on enhancing rigor in neuroscience research.
  • How the field can incentivize rigorous research.

Full agenda

Visit the Neuronline collection, Promoting Awareness and Knowledge to Enhance Scientific Rigor in Neuroscience, to watch six related webinars on demand and explore additional articles and videos.



Oswald Steward, PhD
Oswald Steward, PhD
Oswald Steward is the director of the Reeve-Irvine Research Center, a professor of neurobiology and behavior, and formerly a senior associate dean for research at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. His research focuses on how neurons establish, maintain, and modify their synaptic connections, with an emphasis on the cellular and molecular processes that contribute to repair after central nervous system injuries. Steward has also been committed to the area of enhancing scientific rigor and reproducibility in neuroscience research. He has authored several publications that identify problems with replication and reproducibility and outline best practices for pre-clinical neuroscience research, and previously served as the co-chair of SfN’s Scientific Rigor Working Group. He received his PhD in neuroscience from University of California, Irvine.
Brian Caffo, PhD
Brian Caffo, PhD
Brian Caffo is professor of biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Bloomberg School of Public Health and director of the graduate program at JHU Biostatistics. Caffo is the co-founder of the JHU Statistical Methods and Applications for Research in Technology (SMART) working group, which develops statistically principled methods for new technologies with an emphasis on brain imaging, wearable computing, and biosignals. He earned his BS in mathematics and statistics, MS in statistics, and PhD in statistics from the University of Florida.
Theresa D. Hernández, PhD
Theresa D. Hernández, PhD
Theresa Hernández is an associate dean for research and professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Hernández’s research on traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) utilizes basic and clinical neuroscience approaches to improve treatment outcomes and explores novel interventions stemming from complementary and alternative medicine. She received her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin.
Rita Balice-Gordon
Rita Balice-Gordon, PhD
Rita Balice-Gordon is the head of neuroscience research at Sanofi Genzyme. She leads teams of scientists prosecuting targets relevant to neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation, and central nervous system rare disease. Balice-Gordon is on the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Board of Scientific Councilors and SfN’s Government and Public Affairs Committee, and she was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2015. She earned her BA in biological sciences from Northwestern University and PhD in neurobiology from the University of Texas at Austin.
Deanna Barch, PhD
Deanna Barch, PhD
Deanna Barch is a professor and department chair of psychological and brain sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research uses functional MRI, structural MRI, and cognitive neuroscience methods to examine the neural basis of disturbances in cognitive control and emotional processing in individuals with mental health illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression. She received her BA from Northwestern University and MA and PhD from the University of Illinois.
Meaghan Creed, PhD
Meaghan C. Creed, PhD
Meaghan Creed is an assistant professor in the department of pharmacology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Creed earned her HBSc and her PhD from the University of Toronto. She completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Geneva.
Mary Harrington, PhD
Mary Harrington, PhD
Mary Harrington is a professor of life sciences and director of the neuroscience program at Smith College. Her research on the effects of disrupted circadian rhythms utilizes novel techniques to measure gene expression in vivo, animal models of fatigue, and cell culture. She earned her BS in psychology from Pennsylvania State University, MA in psychology from the University of Toronto, and PhD in psychology from Dalhousie University.
Kristine Willis
Kristine Willis, PhD
Kristine Willis is a program director in the Division of Genetics and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at NIH, where she oversees grants in the area of mutagenesis and DNA repair. She also manages postdoctoral fellowships in genetics and developmental biology. Willis was previously an assistant research professor at Georgetown University. She earned her BS and PhD in biology from the University of Southern Mississippi and conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Toronto.
Malcolm Macleod, PhD
Malcolm Macleod, PhD
Malcolm Macleod is a professor of neurology and translational neuroscience at the Center for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. Macleod’s main interests lie in the development and application of systematic review and meta-analysis to the analysis of data from animal studies modelling neurological diseases such as stroke. He received his BS and PhD from the University of Edinburgh.
Marina Picciotto
Marina Picciotto, PhD
Marina Picciotto is Charles B.G. Murphy Professor in psychiatry, professor of neurobiology and pharmacology in the child study center, and deputy chair for basic science at Yale University. She is also the deputy director of the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience. Picciotto is the editor-in-chief of The Journal of Neuroscience and president-elect of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. She previously served on the Scientific Council of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and as the treasurer of SfN. Her research interests lie in the role of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in mouse models, including research related to addiction, depression, brain development, learning and appetite. She earned her BS in biology from Stanford University, PhD in neuroscience from Rockefeller University, and completed her postdoctoral training at the Pasteur Institute.
Elena Porro, PhD
Elena Porro, PhD
Elena Porro is the senior deputy editor of Cell and the editorial director at Cell Press. She received her PhD in cell and developmental biology from Harvard University, where she worked in the lab of Li-Huei Tsai studying the cell biology of neuronal migration in brain development.
Marcus Munafo
Marcus Munafò, PhD
Marcus Munafò is a professor of biological psychiatry and director of the Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group at the University of Bristol. His research focuses on the genetic and cognitive influences on addictive behavior and investigates the pathways into and consequences of health behaviors and mental health. In addition to his research expertise, he also has interests in the role of incentive structures in science and the extent to which these shape the robustness and reproducibility of scientific research. Munafò earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Oxford, his MSc in health psychology, and PhD at the University of Southampton.
Katherine Button
Katherine Button, PhD
Katherine Button is a lecturer in the department of psychology at the University of Bath. Her research focuses on the cognitive mechanisms that contribute to common mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, and translating this to improve cognitive-based intervention for patients in primary care. In addition to her primary research, Button is an advocate for improving the transparency and rigor of psychological and neuroscience research. She uses meta-analytic techniques to explore systematic weakness in the evidence-base, and draw on best-practice across disciplines for solutions.
Li-Huei Tsai
Li-Huei Tsai, PhD
Li-Huei Tsai is a professor of neuroscience and the director of the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Tsai is also a fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a member of the National Academy of Medicine, and an Academician of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan. She was previously a professor at Harvard Medical School and the investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Her research interests lie in elucidating the pathogenic mechanisms underlying neurological disorders that impact learning and memory. Tsai received her PhD from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and completed her postdoctoral training at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories and Massachusetts General Hospital.
Cheryl Sisk
Cheryl Sisk, PhD
Cheryl Sisk is a professor of psychology and director of the interdepartmental graduate neuroscience program at Michigan State University. She is also the treasurer of the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology and president of the Association of Neuroscience Departments and Programs. Sisk’s research program focuses on how the gonadal steroid hormones of puberty shape the development of the adolescent brain and the maturation of social behaviors. She earned her PhD in biopsychology and neuroscience from Florida State University and completed her postdoctoral training at Northwestern University.
Emanuel DiCicco Bloom
Emanuel M. DiCicco-Bloom, MD
Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom is a professor in the department of neuroscience and cell biology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He currently practices at Childrens Health Institute and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Hamilton, and Saint Peter's University Hospital. DiCicco-Bloom’s research interests are in the regulation of developmental and adult neurogenesis and cell cycle mechanism. He graduated from Weill Cornell Medical College and completed a residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Shiva Singh, PhD
Shiva Singh, PhD
Shiva Singh is chief of the undergraduate and predoctoral training branch of the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity at National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). He previously served as director of biomedical research and training programs at Alabama State University. Singh earned his BS and MS in plant sciences from G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology in India and his PhD in microbiology from Auburn University. He completed his postdoctoral training at Auburn University and Argonne National Laboratory.

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