Preclinical pain research has applied state-of-the-art methods over the past 40 years to describe, characterize, and image molecules, cells, and circuits in rodents to understand the pathophysiology of chronic pain. Despite generating a plethora of novel analgesic targets, pharmaceuticals for chronic pain treatment remain largely limited to the same 6 drug classes as present 40 years ago. It is possible that 40 years of effort has brought us to the verge of a paradigm shift and an explosion of novel analgesic drug classes with remarkable safety, efficacy, and tolerability. We think it more likely that advances will not occur until we follow the description of exciting discoveries with hypothesis testing using clinically relevant preclinical animal models and ethologically relevant outcome measures, which better reflect the clinical characteristics of chronic pain syndromes. Furthermore, to be valuable, experiments using such models must be conducted to the highest levels of internal validity, rigor, and reproducibility. Efforts by funders, most recently the Helping End Addiction Long-Term by the National Institutes of Health, aim to address some of these challenges and enhance communication and collaboration between preclinical and clinical investigators. However, the greater problem is a culture that emphasizes novelty and number of publications over scientific rigor and robust replication leading to a high likelihood of false-positive results. A path forward is provided by the evolution of clinical research beginning 50 years ago that resulted in methods to reduce bias and enhance transparency and ethics of reporting, moving from case reports to randomized controlled trials to innovative study designs with a focus on rigor, generalizability, and reproducibility. We argue that culture changed in clinical science in part because powerful forces outside the peer review system, especially from federal regulators that approve new drugs and human studies committees that addressed ethical failures of earlier research, mandated change in studies within their purview. Whether an external force will affect change in peclinical pain research is unclear.