Member Spotlight: How OSF Helps Stiftelsen Dam Fund Norwegian Health Research and Promote Transparency

March 14th, 2024,

The following blog is based on a recent webinar with Stiftelsen Dam. You can watch the full recording here.

Stiftelsen Dam, a leading Norwegian health research funder, sought to ensure their grants boosted impactful and transparent research outcomes. They turned to OSF Registries to streamline preregistration and centralize project information, fostering a more transparent and efficient research ecosystem and streamlining processes.

Stiftelsen Dam grants about $50 million each year to hundreds of health research projects. The organization wanted to minimize the “research waste” that comes from studies that go unpublished, suffer from selective reporting, have replicability issues, or are hampered by poor design and methodology. All of these factors contribute to unreliable or inconclusive results, or even no results at all.

“As a research funder, we want our money to be well spent, and it's obvious that although a lot of research is of very high quality, a lot of it is of poor quality as well,” said Jan-Ole Hesselberg, Chief Program Officer of Stiftelsen Dam. “We started by focusing on what we as a foundation can do to limit research waste and questionable research practices.”

Requiring Preregistration 
The organization now requires all trials and studies be preregistered in its Dam Registry, built on the OSF Registries infrastructure. Stiftelsen Dam previously had its own proprietary system, but the effort was cost prohibitive and the isolated system didn't allow outside researchers to comment on and scrutinize ongoing projects. “We realized that we were not able to be the ones developing a system that really should be a part of the scientific, international infrastructure,” said Hesselberg.

By leveraging the OSF Registries infrastructure, Stiftelsen Dam ensures transparency and adherence to their research quality guidelines. The Dam Registry also gives them one central location for workflows. “There's a value to us as a funder to gather our projects in one place so that we get an overview of our projects and workflow where we can check the registrations of our projects,” said Hesselberg. “...We can screen the registrations before they become public and make sure that all our projects register there.” 
Before Stiftelsen Dam adopted OSF Registries, getting a big picture view of funding projects and applications was difficult. OSF Registries streamlines project overviews, facilitating easy preregistration screening and early notification of new projects, making it a valuable investment, said Hesselberg.

Using OSF also speeds up the review process. Researchers can either submit a short pre-proposal for Stiftelsen Dam's formal review process or opt for a Registered Report. With Registered Reports, researchers submit their preregistration plan to a journal for review and the journal agrees to publish the findings regardless of the outcome, addressing publication bias. If a journal accepts a Registered Report, the grant applicant does not need to go through Stiftelsen Dam’s peer review.

A Model for Transparency
Most applicants have embraced the preregistration process, said Hesselberg. Some researchers have expressed concerns about deviations from their initial preregistration, but one of the goals of preregistration is to encourage type of transparency about any changes.

Stiftelsen Dam’s focus on research quality and transparency has garnered attention from larger Norwegian funders, with organizations like the Norwegian Research Council actively monitoring the outcomes for potential implementation. “I think we made a lot of leeway here in Norway,” said Hesselberg. “We see now that some of the big funders are starting to follow some of our practices.”

Do you face challenges communicating with your funded researchers? Is tracking output, encouraging research transparency, and enforcing policy compliance part of your role? Learn more about OSF Registries.

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