In response to the “replication crisis” in psychology and with an eye toward greater transparency across all scientific disciplines, many researchers, funders and individuals in the public are paying more attention to open science. Open science is a movement toward transparency and increased access to the scientific process (materials, data, analyses, and the final, published results). You can read a great introduction to the idea of open science here, and there are many links and other resources available from there. The idea of open science is not the same as the pay-to-publish practices of the predatory journals, though it can be confusing for someone who is new to the process (see here).
Open science is multifaceted, with components for researchers, journals and funders. However, consider the case example of registered reports. Registered reports (RR) are research projects that are submitted to a journal for peer-review at the design phase. If accepted, the author will go, collect the data and follow the plan for data collection and analysis outlined in their registered submission. The acceptance prior the data collection is essentially an assurance that even if the hypotheses are not supported (e.g., null results), the paper is worthy of publication and will be published. An increasing number of journals are offering this as a publication option in a number of fields. This kind of up-front transparency about the specific planned research questions, hypotheses, methods and data analyses reduces the likelihood of the so-called file drawer problem, which is an impediment to scientific progress.
One criticism that some levy against the idea of open science is that all the pre-registration of hypotheses limits the extent to which researchers can freely explore their own data. We do not believe this is the case! Open science does not restrict exploration of data, it just clarifies the researcher’s intentions (e.g., hypothesis-testing versus exploration) at the outset. This does not inherently devalue the results found during unplanned exploration of data, but it helps to remove the type I errors found as a result of p-hacking, which can be especially problematic with single-study conclusions. Open science can return researchers to the original intentions of the scientific process.
Here’s another look at open science.
This text is a great resource for those who want to dig even further into the issues.
Here at the CSHB, we believe that there is great value in transparency, collaboration and high-quality research materials being available to individuals without access to a university library. As such, we will work to increase our support of open science and hope to bring more training and resources to you soon!
Open Science Framework
It’s a good time to join the movement for open science: The Open Science Framework (OSF) is a digital tool that supports your research flow, promoting organization and enabling collaboration. It syncs with other tools you may use in your research (such as Zotero), and is completely free.