COS and the EQUATOR Network are Working Together to Improve Research

May 2nd, 2024,
Posted in: Open Science

Among many of its goals, Open Science is a movement toward better, clearer research. Working toward that goal requires coordinated effort, and it is for that reason that a partnership between the EQUATOR Network and the Center for Open Science (COS) makes sense. 

All too often, published research does not contain sufficient details to describe, or replicate, the conducted work. The EQUATOR Network has been working for more than 15 years to reduce that problem by assisting in the development, dissemination and implementation of robust reporting guidelines. These reporting guidelines help to improve the clarity of how a study was designed, conducted, and analyzed. 

COS’s broad mission to improve the trustworthiness of all research requires expertise from specific methodologists and across all domains. COS’s work to build open source infrastructure, advocate for policies, and engage disparate communities benefits from the specificity that EQUATOR provides. 

COS and EQUATOR have worked together in the past, most specifically on the creation and continued stewardship of the Transparency and Openness Promotion Guidelines (TOP). This partnership is being formalized through our shared commitment to collaborate on a series of activities over the next three years that will continue our current work and will expand it to better meet the mission of both organizations.

Creating Educational Materials: Many best practices in open research remain unknown to too many. COS and EQUATOR will conduct educational outreach that will teach researchers who to register their study before it is conducted and how to create a complete protocol to accompany their publications. This outreach will include webinars, conference presentations, blog posts, and scholarly articles.

Collaborate on EQUATOR Network Toolkits: Notably, this will include toolkits on how to write or how to peer review. Additional toolkits could be created with open science practices in mind, for example by guiding reviewers to assess the degree to which papers follow best practices in data sharing. Likewise, reviewing the results of work that was registered requires comparison between prespecified plans and transparently justified changes from those plans. Additional guidance and standards will be created for this process. 

Host COS resources on the EQUATOR Network: COS creates or hosts registration templates that could be hosted on the EQUATOR website. COS is currently piloting a program to systematize the inclusion of new templates based partly on the process that EQUATOR uses to host new reporting guidelines. Some standards could be included in the EQUATOR platform.

Host EQUATOR Network resources on the OSF: COS is interested in expanding the use of preregistration and is exploring the use of EQUATOR reporting guidelines as a means to do so. COS intends to discuss this possibility with EQUATOR in its planning process.

Inclusion of Open Science Practices in More Reporting Guidelines: There is an opportunity to increase the adoption of open science practices such as protocol posting, data sharing, or conducting replication studies in medicine. CONSORT 2023 now has a specific section on open science and COS could support further mentions, practices, or inclusion in additional guidelines.

This partnership is posed to advance the missions of both organizations. By supporting the inclusion of more open science practices on the EQUATOR Network, more published research will use checklists and reporting guidelines that remind authors to include these important research outputs. And by using the standards and practices developed for clear reporting, COS will improve the relevance of its work in the biomedical research community.

“The EQUATOR Network executive is delighted to enter this relationship with COS. Since its inception in 2006, the EQUATOR Network has worked hard to help improve comprehensive and transparent reporting of research," said David Moher, Director of the EQUATOR Network. "Collaborating with COS will help further achieve this objective. We look forward to working with COS building accessible educational training opportunities to facilitate better reporting of all research outputs.”

This announcement also appeared EQUATOR’s website.

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