Society invests billions of dollars in research each year, and too much of that investment goes to waste. Researchers are rewarded for sensational findings rather than rigorous methods, transparent reporting, and unbiased results.
This undermines the credibility of published findings. When others try to replicate the findings, they often fail. And, when trying to translate the findings into solutions or cures, they don't work — wasting money, time, and giving false hope. The research culture’s dysfunctional reward system and lack of transparency slows the pace of discovery.
The open science movement is addressing these problems head on. Leading funders, publishers and institutions are developing new initiatives and technologies to help researchers conduct more rigorous and transparent work and improve the availability of research data, materials, and outcomes.
Open science reduces waste and accelerates the discovery of knowledge, solutions, and cures for the world's most pressing needs.
Changing the research culture is daunting, but there are incremental steps at every stage of the research lifecycle that can improve rigor and reduce waste.
The Center for Open Science maintains the open-source Open Science Framework, or OSF, an infrastructure that supports culture change by enabling rigor and transparency across the research lifecycle.
Some of the most critical issues that reduce scientific rigor can be addressed through an act called pre-registration. Preregistering an analysis plan allows researchers to shine a light on what was planned beforehand versus what was discovered after the fact. This reduces hindsight bias and overconfidence that an uncertain discovery was predicted beforehand.
Failure to preregister is like releasing an arrow and then drawing the target afterward, making every shot a bull's-eye. But pre-registration records predictions in advance, making it meaningful when the target is hit, and highlighting the uncertainty associated with serendipitous observations when the arrow is off the mark. It illuminates new possibilities researchers hadn’t considered.
Pre-registration also eliminates publication bias by making all studies discoverable, even if they're never published. Sharing all outcomes, not just novel results, increases transparency and trust in science.
OSF supports pre-registration for many research methodologies using customized registration formats. With the OSF Registries service, groups can launch their own registries to help enhance rigor in their communities. OSF Registries has features to help researchers, such as the option to embargo registrations so that ideas aren’t disclosed too soon.
A challenging area for rigor and transparency is also the most mundane — keeping track of one’s own research materials and data. It‘s too common for teams to lose their own materials and data because of ad hoc and unreliable archiving solutions.
OSF is a cloud-based, collaborative management service that ensures researchers will never lose their own work. Researchers deposit data, materials, and documentation into private project spaces for their teams. They control who has access to what and when, and can decide whether to make some or all of the content accessible publicly or by-request.
OSF Institutions makes it even easier for organizations and universities’ researchers to sign-in and use OSF, manage collaborative data, and increase visibility of institution-affiliated research. Universities can even connect their local repositories to OSF to integrate with their researchers’ workflows.
Even better, OSF and the OSF Preprints service, make it easy to make all findings openly available, including their data and supporting material, even if they’re never included in a published paper. OSF Preprints gives researchers control to communicate their findings as openly and quickly as possible so that others can benefit from the research—whether it shows a promising new direction or a likely dead-end.
Making all of this research available is most useful if it’s also discoverable.
Researchers need tools for searching and filtering to help them discover the content that’s most relevant to them, while accelerating their ability to build on the work of others. Groups can launch OSF Collections to improve the discoverability of projects within their areas of interest. With customizable filtering and taxonomies, OSF Collections helps foster communities of practice—giving researchers a place to discover work and share their own.
By increasing rigor and transparency in planning, conducting, reporting, and discovery, the Center for Open Science is working to open up the whole research lifecycle.
An open lifecycle:
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