Policy Reform

Advocating for better policies as part of our mission to improve research practice.

Improving scientific culture requires better policies to support better practices. The Center for Open Science (COS) advocates for improved policy through strategic activities by engaging policymakers as norms shift toward more openness within communities. COS engages policymakers in government, publishing, funding, and in academic institutions by providing specific recommendations and assessments based on a clear framework outlined in the Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) Guidelines.

Transparency and Openness Promotion

COS activities are focused on providing specific recommendations to relevant audiences.

Advocacy to Policymakers

COS advocates for open science policies to policymakers in government and private organizations. This includes Congressional testimony, responses to requests for information, and other formats. These statements are publicly available and are openly licensed for maximal reuse by others. 

TOP Guidelines

The Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) Guidelines create a policy framework that covers the entire research lifecycle so that important practices can be incentivized through specific policies. TOP includes eight modular standards, each with three levels of increasing stringency. These features provide flexibility for adoption depending on disciplinary variation, but simultaneously establish shared standards.

TOP for Funders

Funders of scientific research can increase credibility and accelerate discovery by enabling and incentivizing the most rigorous and transparent methods. COS curates support materials and best practices for funders to integrate TOP Guidelines into their policies for grantees.

TOP Factor

COS assesses journals based on the degree to which they comply with the TOP Guidelines. TOP Factor is a metric that reports the steps that a journal is taking to implement open science policies. TOP Factor is an alternative way to assess journals that focuses on their commitment to promoting rigor, transparency, and sharing. This is an important counterweight to existing metrics for evaluating journals that focus on how much attention the papers they publish receive on average, as measured by citation rates. Rating journals by how much they publish attention-getting findings increases dysfunctional behaviors associated with less rigor and reproducibility. Rating journals by their policies promoting rigor and reproducibility aligns the evaluation of journals with core values of scholarship.

Registered Reports

Registered Reports is a publishing format that emphasizes the importance of the research question and the quality of methodology by conducting peer review prior to observing the research outcomes. High quality protocols are then provisionally accepted for publication if the authors follow through with the registered methodology.

This format rewards researchers for asking important questions and designing rigorous methods to test those questions. This contrasts with the standard peer review process that emphasizes evaluation of the importance and novelty of the findings. Registered Reports eliminates a variety of questionable research practices, including selective reporting of results and publication bias, by committing to publication before knowing the outcomes. Registered Reports also allow flexibility to report serendipitous findings, and authors clearly distinguish those findings from those that were planned in advance.

Open Science Badges

Open Science Badges make transparent and reproducible research practices more visible. This raises awareness and helps normalize practices that are highly valued. Visibility is an important part of changing social norms by providing evidence that others in one’s research community are adopting open practices, thus lowering the barrier to adopting them oneself.