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Opening Influenza Research

A call for negative results, null results, and replications of important findings

Project Overview

Significant gaps remain in our understanding of influenza that hinder development of the most effective countermeasures to this formidable threat to human health. 

Reproducible evidence is a signature strength of science, yet replications and negative results rarely appear in journals because cultural incentives emphasize novelty over verification (Nosek, Spies, & Motyl, 2012). These behaviors must be addressed and amended in all areas of research, and especially as they relate to findings that can dramatically improve public health and education.

Preliminary research demonstrates that the influenza community sees value in the publication of null results and replication studies1. However, these same respondents believe that their peers hold disfavorable views regarding these same practices, demonstrating a mismatch between researchers’ perceptions and beliefs of open science practices in influenza research2. 

The Public Library of Science (PLOS), the Center for Open Science (COS), and Flu Lab are collaborating to bypass these detrimental incentives and to encourage the availability of all findings that contribute to the influenza body of knowledge, utilizing four primary actions:

  1. Creating a Steering Committee of leaders in the field who can direct activities and connect emerging interest groups around open research practices.
  2. Using data gathered through surveying efforts to identify opportunities for messaging and begin conversations with editors, researchers, and funders about mismatches between desired and actual practice.
  3. Convening a Journal and Funder Roundtable Summit to encourage the development of a journal consortium for publishing null results, replication studies, and Registered Reports.
  4. Fostering online community engagement and a resource hub for implementing these practices.

This project is working to create (1) a community of influenza researchers sharing knowledge and practices in improved open science, and (2) a subsequent body of research that is more credible, less affected by publication bias, and more verifiable through the increased adoption of open science practices. 

Through the Opening Influenza Research project, we invite the influenza research community to “empty the file drawers” and contribute to a thorough aggregation of open and accessible findings.


178, 80% of influenza researchers in the Open Scholarship Survey indicated a favorable attitude toward null results, replication studies.

239, 48% of influenza researchers in the Open Scholarship Survey perceived a favorable attitude toward null results, replication studies.

Eligibility

Whichever submission type is selected, the primary focus of the work must be related to influenza, though the specific discipline or methodology may be biomedical, behavioral, epidemiological, or interdisciplinary. 

A submission starts with a pre-submission inquiry to COS to confirm eligibility.  Only inquiries that confirm eligibility with COS will be eligible for an award. All full submissions are peer reviewed at PLOS One and published by the Public Library of Science.

Qualifying proposals are eligible to receive financial awards from Flu Lab to support the conducting and publishing of research. The decision to fund and publish these proposals are determined by the research questions investigated and the quality of the methodology to test those questions, not the observation of positive results. 

Please see Submission Criteria for further details.

Awards cannot be sent to countries where US law prevents such transactions: Crimea (Region of Ukraine), Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, or Syria.

Submission Criteria

Negative and Null Results and Replication Studies

1. Researchers must submit a pre-submission inquiry through this form to confirm eligibility. Pre-submission inquiries will be reviewed by the project team at COS. In your inquiry, please include:

  • Notation of which submission option is being considered: 1) Emptying the file drawer of negative or null results, or 2) Emptying the file drawer of replication studies
  • A description of the research as an abstract in 300 words or less

The COS project team will respond within 4 business days confirming eligibility or detailing the reasons why a project would not be eligible for a financial award. 

2. If the project is confirmed for eligibility, researchers then submit their full paper to PLOS ONE.

3. Awards of $5,000 are given upon PLOS’s acceptance of final submission until available funding has expired. 

  • Preregistration is not required. 
  • Papers must conform with PLOS’s data sharing and other editorial policies
  • Authors will be asked to complete a brief, final report questionnaire prior to receiving funds.

New, Proposed, Highly-Powered Replication Studies

1. Researchers must submit a pre-submission inquiry to this form to confirm eligibility. Pre-submission inquiries will be reviewed by the project team at COS. In your inquiry, please include the items below. Multiple inquiries may be submitted.*

  • A description of the research as an abstract in 300 words or less 
  • A project budget (up to $25,000) and brief justification of costs
  • A justification that the study you wish to replicate would be otherwise difficult to conduct or publish otherwise

The COS project team will respond within 4 business days confirming eligibility or detailing the reasons why a project would not be eligible for a financial award. 

2. If your project is confirmed for eligibility, researchers must submit a Stage 1 Registered Report to PLOS. Questions on completing a Registered Report can be directed to David Mellor at david@cos.io.

3. If your study is accepted by PLOS, you will then preregister your study on OSF and an initial award payment will be made. 

4. After you conduct your study, final results must be submitted to PLOS who conducts the Stage 2 review. Additionally, a final report must be submitted to COS. Upon receipt of both the final submission and the final report, you will receive the remainder of your study award. 

*No individual may receive more than one award from each of the three submission types (null results, file drawer replications, or new replications). Members of the same lab or co-authors on accepted papers do not count toward this limit.


Questions? Please contact flulab@cos.io for assistance with assessing whether your project idea is suitable for consideration, or for instructions about how to prepare a proposal that will be eligible for a financial award.

Awarded Articles

Negative and Null Results Publications

Lapuente D, Stab V, Storcksdieck genannt Bonsmann M, Maaske A, Köster M, Xiao H, et al. (2020) Innate signalling molecules as genetic adjuvants do not alter the efficacy of a DNA-based influenza A vaccine. PLoS ONE 15(4): e0231138. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0231138

Kenmoe S, Kengne-Nde C, Modiyinji AF, Bigna JJ, Njouom R (2020) Association of early viral lower respiratory infections and subsequent development of atopy, a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. PLoS ONE 15(4): e0231816. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0231816

 

Replication Studies

Bleser WK, Salmon DA, Miranda PY (2020) A hidden vulnerable population: Young children up-to-date on vaccine series recommendations except influenza vaccines. PLoS ONE 15(6): e0234466. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0234466

 

New Registered Replication Studies

Tang D-cC (2020) Paradoxical modulation of influenza by intranasal administration of non-replicating adenovirus particles. PLoS ONE 15(11): e0241266. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0241266

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